I am broken. So are you. The older we grow, the more we realize it.
We come into the world reeling from the violence of our births and equipped with a sinful nature, which begins destroying us before we’re even aware of it, before we are even cognizant of who we are. This deformity of sin shapes our selfish infant actions, our tiny dictator-like responses, our self-centered memories, and our irrational feelings, all before we even know we must do battle with this inner corruption. By the time we recognize this side of ourselves, much damage has already been done, and instinctive ways of reacting have been embedded.
My sense of self was shattered when my parents had a second child. What? Yes, I know that’s ridiculous. (I’m not advocating for single-child families. Each couple should build the family God has given them the desire to build.)
But when my parents had another baby, my egocentric little self decided I was no longer loved. I had the visible proof right in front of my toddler eyes. Therefore, I became a trial to my parents with jealous and naughty behavior to get their attention. Sometimes I even clobbered my little sister.
It wasn’t until decades later that I realized these two-year-old false assumptions about my worth drove my grown-up insecurities and my great need for love. Add the later trials of my life, and each event convinced me even further.
Yesterday on our evening walk, we met a neighbor who recently had her second child. Her barely one-year-old firstborn has not adjusted well and simply seeing him collapse onto the sidewalk at the words “big brother” made my chest tight with anxiety. His little life has imploded since the birth of his sibling. That was me.
But this repeated itself when I had two babies myself. It was the mother side of it that crushed me, for I knew it from both sides then. I loved and cherished our firstborn, but his equally beloved and treasured baby brother had crashed in to destroy his reign. Our now insecure firstborn demolished his toy-box and bedroom every time I tried to get our new baby down for a nap. Within months, he had adapted, but I knew these events were being interpreted through infant lenses.
Two babies so young was one of the most difficult tasks God ever handed me. I did my best, but I knew from my own experience that children are shaped by the negative voice inside their little noggins, before they even know it is there. There was no way to prevent it.
As we walked away from the wailing toddler on the sidewalk, his poor mother, and the peacefully sleeping new sibling, I said to my husband, “I wish I’d been about twenty years older when I had two children so close together,” knowing full well that being a more seasoned mother wouldn’t have changed a thing.
“Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me” (Ps 27:10). The LORD always wants us, never rejects us, nor does He seem to reject us when other believers are born into His family. His love vastly overarches, covers, and heals even this small-child pain.
When you become homebound, you often sit in silent contemplation before God, learning lessons you never even knew existed, and then weeping as you discover your true self. You find all your flaws. You rue all your mistakes. You lament that you couldn’t be better.
You feel Christ’s nearness. You accept God’s forgiveness.
You address the original dilemma: Am I loved?
Sitting alone daily in my house, I must sift and pick through feelings of worthlessness that about crush me, often from seemingly innocuous events.
Gently, in His time, He reminds me that this broken infant part of me falsely believes that I am unloveable and unseen. That this is a lie. That He Himself is with me. That I am cherished simply for being me, simply for being His. I know this theologically. It’s simply my broken emotions that don’t.
As I write this, a memory post from Facebook on this very day six years ago appears on my iPhone screen. I asked Him to apply healing to this infant wound, and He provided me with this proof: God’s love for me is even more powerful than death.
The Lord also sends help to enable me to understand how He has made me. A few minutes later my son-in-law sends a podcast on the Enneagram personality assessment. I listen and come away with a better understanding of myself, giving myself grace for my personal struggles.
Day by day Jesus has been meeting me with coordinated actions, passages from His Word, and insights that bring growth and grace into my life. When I rest in Him and the growth He superintends, it is truly well with my soul, as it is with all who turn to Him, no matter their birth order.
His grace is our hope. In it, we are renewed day by day.