Just yesterday, a friend was telling me about a voicemail she’d received a few days earlier. Amidst some muffled sounds and giggling, if you listened hard enough, you could hear a child’s voice saying “Auntie Cari.” Finally, she heard her name spoken by her dear friend’s son. She’d worked with him on learning it, but it had taken some time. And though she knew he knew her, there was just something about it being made clear and concrete, through words, that touched her heart.
I know John Paul knows me. As long as I live I doubt I’ll ever experience a moment as sweet as when, upon first hearing my voice outside of the womb, he reached up his tiny hand and placed it on my cheek. How deeply known I felt, and how deeplyloved. But there was still something magical that made my heart skip a beat when he crawled towards me in the kitchen this morning, met my eyes, and murmured “Mamamama.” How beautiful to hear him say my new name, the most beautiful name I’ve ever heard, asserting that, yes, of course he knows me as mother.
How quickly our relationship is evolving. In the first few months of his life, John Paul knew me as comforter and feeder. Now, he knows me as mother, one who still comforts and provides nourishment, but one who also disciplines, plays, and teaches.Before too long we’ll be having conversations and getting to know one another in an even deeper, more meaningful way. While this is something I am excited for, it admittedly also makes me anxious. There’s no guarantee that John Paul will always adore me the way he does now. In fact, it’s almost certain there will be plenty of times when he won’t adore me at all. As he grows bigger he’ll become more independent, and as in all relationships, there will be instances when we grow further from one another and must work to regain the closeness we once had. We’re certain to have misunderstandings and different opinions. In short, we’ll need plenty of grace to keep our relationship rooted in love.
And yet, I’m comforted in remembering another relationship of mine that’s constantly changing and growing: my relationship with God. There have been times when I was deaf to God’s voice, even though He called me, as He calls all of us, by name. There have been times when I have been so close to God it’s as if He’s whispering right into my ear. There have been times, like now, when I know in my heart that He’s with me, but I must work at keeping our relationship strong. But I know that even when I am deaf to His call, God is always been there. Though His patience with me is unfathomable and undeserved, I am finally beginning to understand it. For the love I have for John Paul is unlike a love I’ve ever known, and I will nevergive up on having a close relationship with my son, no matter what trials life throws us. How incredible it is when we begin to understand even in just the slightest way how big, how unending, and how resilient the Father’s love is for us, and how incredible that we are given the opportunity to mirror that love right now, in all of our relationships.