So I am completely aware I am giving Philadelphia Eagles fans (and all our other opponents for that matter) an open door for Eli Manning bashing with this, but I can’t help it, it is simply too precious not to mention. Our daughter, Adeline, has recently grown quite smitten with her Eli Manning doll. I suppose I am partly responsible for this as I pointed him out this past Sunday when the NFL season kicked off. You see, it is true, and excruciatingly painful, but yes we live in South Jersey and are NY Giants fans. So of course like a good Giants’ fanatic I am now training my daughters to love them as well. Since Adeline was 6 months old she has been wearing Giants paraphernalia every season, and Maisie will begin this fall too. It is who I am (my husband will put the tee-shirt on but as a native Dominican he has no interest in the NFL and rather enjoys cheering against the Giants, so the Giants love comes from Mama alone).
So Adeline has been taking care of her Eli doll as if he were her child. She does everything she knows a mommy should do: pat his back, tell him she loves him, kiss him, yes even breast feed him, and of course she puts him to bed. The other night when I was putting her to bed she first had to put him to bed. So I watched and waited. I saw her wrap him in a blanket, lay him down, pat his head, and kiss him on the cheek. Then she told him, “Don’t worry Eli, you won’t see any monsters. And if you do, God says, ‘God is bigger than the boogie man (cue Veggie Tales music).” As a mother my heart melted. Why? Because I saw her mimicking with her Eli doll everything I have done with her. When she went through a short-lived stage of being afraid of shadows in her bedroom we would sing the song from Veggie Tales that teaches kids not to be afraid because God is bigger than anything they might be afraid of. She remembered this and taught it to her Eli doll. She took what I did, and did it with Eli – exactly, word for word. She comforted him and assured him that God was in control. Without fully being aware of it, she made a huge declaration about who God is.
I was reminded by one of my devotions the other day that motherhood is a “privilege, a calling, and a responsibility we must never take lightly.” It is not just something I do, it is all that I do – it is who I am. These two beautiful little girls are my heart and I do not take the task of raising them lightly. I also know that it is not something I dare to undertake without God. The only thing good about me as a mother comes from God. The patience, kindness, love, compassion, and gentleness I have with my girls come only when I rely on the Holy Spirit as a mother. When I turn to myself for strength, things don’t go so well, and I usually come up empty. It is not pretty.
But God have me this beautiful glimpse of what he can do through me as mother the other day when I had the privilege of watching my little girl share her three-year old faith with her Eli Manning doll. I was able to see that what I do and say matters greatly. I was affirmed as a woman of faith committed to share that faith with her daughter. I was encouraged as a mother, as a pastor, as a believer. I didn’t see my daughter yelling at her doll, being impatient, showing frustration, rolling her eyes, or exhaling in exasperation – all of which I have done at one point or another. No, instead I saw her caring for him, comforting him, sharing the promise of God’s protection and the declaration of his greatness. This is what has stuck. This is what has impacted her. This is what she sees.
Thank you God! Bless you! You have done this, not me. I know I have failed so many times as a mom. I have lost my patience. I have not been kind or compassionate. I have been exhausted and overwhelmed. But you, oh my God, you have been faithful. And right then, in that one tiny little moment, I caught a glimpse of your faithfulness. I witnessed what you can do, in spite of my imperfections, through me. I saw what really matters, your faithfulness – not mine.
“Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.”