I scoop her up off the floor, plop down into my favorite nursing chair, raise my shirt and offer her some milk. She latches, but as she does she extends her arm until her pudgy, dimpled, dainty elbow reaches a locked position.
This is how we nurse. We've nursed this way all 12.5 months of her life. I cradle her, smooth her hair, gaze at her eyelashes and smile. She looks at the ceiling then rolls her eyes as far as possible to see what is behind her, without unlatching.
She tolerates me. With my other babies there were tender nursing moments. Times when they would nurse, grin while milk streamed from the corners of their mouthes, unlatch and offer me a huge grin, only to spray milk all over the both of us.
But Evelyn is not that baby. She loves me, and wants me sometimes, but mostly I'm a source of nourishment for her. It's her Daddy who is her ultimate soother. She adores him more than any of our other children have at this young age. Normally it's Mommy and Mommy alone while they're breastfeeding. But not her.
She drinks until she's had her fill, then she unlatches with a smack, rolls away from me, requesting with her whole body to be released from my arms. She's done with me and I've come to terms with the fact that I am the one who is fond of the nursing, not her. I've finally realized it's not personal. She grins and me and smiles when we play together. She giggles at my over-exaggerated laughs. But if the choice is me or Daddy, Daddy wins every time.
|Evelyn, 9.5 months, tolerating my affection.|
Tonight, as the house was still, and I rocked her while she nursed, He washed Himself over me in a way that used to be familiar and regular.
"This is us," he whispered. "You use me solely for life-sustaining nourishment right now. There is no intimacy between us. You wait until you cannot wait any longer, have your fill of me, then you make it clear you're ready to have your space."
I recoiled in the truth that He showed me.
I've been angry. Hurt. I've felt neglected and robbed. I've wanted to walk away, and I probably would have, for not the consistent and fervent prayers of my husband and dearest friends. And now, I'm in a place where I'm no longer wanting or struggling to break free from this faith that has gripped me so tightly. I'm fine with it. It's here, it's who I am. It's a part of me.
I wait until I can wait no more, fling myself before the cross, fill myself with just enough to get me through the next trial, the next thing and then I'm done with him for a while.
In the simile that is my nursing relationship, I am Evelyn and He is me.
He longs for the intimacy that should exist, the affection and the joy upon my face as we embrace and delight in one another. And oh how He has never stopped delighting in me. He makes that clear when I draw near. He loves me as much as He ever has, increasingly as the days pass. As my love grows for my almost-walking babe, does His love for me.
My embraces with him have been distant. My (not as cute as Evelyn's) pudgy, dimpled elbows lock into place when He comes near because keeping Him at arms length is just easier. At arms length it can't hurt as much. At arms length I cannot hear His whispers clearly. At arms length, my perception is that if He should forget me again, then I can catch myself before I fall.
But the truth is, I was never forgotten. As much as my heart, and my enemy, wants be to believe the lie that I have been cast aside, He could not forget me. I know this is true because I could not forget my precious, independent, ever looking-for-a-distraction-while nursing, baby girl.
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
Oh this love He has for me is relentless. He is showing me, as I pursue all but Him, that He is here. Offering the nourishment and sustenance I need for life, a rich life, right in his very arms. He hasn't quit offering it, though I have pushed it away, kept it at arms length and, sometimes, refused it all together even though it was exactly what I needed at that very moment.
This Jesus of mine, He cares for me. He keeps me in his tender grasp, and even lowers me gently as I thrash to get on my own two feet. How could I ever believe He would forsake me?
My girl, she's rewriting my knowledge as a mother, expanding on it day by day. Eight kids into this gig and He's still using these tiny (and not-so-tiny) people to show me that He sees me as I see them. Full of life, hope, love, joy and rich in mercy. This love He has that I am so thankful never ceases. Just like my love for the most independent 12 month old I've ever met. He takes me, defiance and all, embraces me, welcomes me back time and time and time again until one day, the arms relax, the eyes lift and meet his and a smile creeps across my face. And joy is found when the struggling ceases.
|A rare, tender, arm-not-locked moment. |
Perhaps my most favorite photo of all time.
(Photo credit: Light of Mine Photography)