I Can’t Put Them Down Yet
I gently push my body to a standing position as guitars strum out the first measures of the song. My eyes dart to the words projected above while the melody of a familiar hymn whirls past my ears. I look towards the floor and gently cup my hands around the midsection of my youngest son. On a silent count of three, I hoist him up high into the air, and settle him in his first-class seat. Perched atop my hip, his forty-three pound body bounces while I lightly sway to the music that echoes around us. He’s six-years-old now. He’s adding numbers and reading sentences—he doesn’t need his mother rocking him or restraining him during the service. Yet each Sunday I just can’t stop myself from hoisting him up to his familiar spot. I don’t want to put him down.
You see, as I stand there, singing with my six-year old on my hip, I’m twenty-four again–joining the chorus around me while cradling the newborn baby girl nestled in the carrier strapped around my body. I can feel her soft form and hear my desperate prayers for naptime to last through the sermon. My body feels exhausted from lack of sleep, while my mind races with fears of the motherhood I’m learning for the first time. He is my light, my strength, my song. My lips sing the words while my hand rhythmically pats the sleeping child pressed against my chest.
Now I’m two years older, with a growing family (and belly), and an energetic toddler weaving between our feet as we stand to worship. As the tune belts out I reach down to bring my daughter upon my hip. The frustrations of our hurried morning of finding shoes and getting snacks weigh down on my heart. The coldness towards my husband starts to thaw as I sing the songs along with my little girl playing peek-a-boo with every person around us. My sin, oh the bliss, of this glorious thought. My sin, not in part, but the whole. Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more. I pull my daughter in closer, and grab the hand of my husband beside me. Lord, forgive me, I pray.
Time moves on, and I’m rocking my second-born to the music around us. This time the tears fall with joy as I sing songs of gratitude to the God who granted peace and joy in the midst of another delivery and postpartum. I hold him and marvel at God’s goodness.
I’ve sung with a baby pressed against my body for the better part of eleven years now. They’ve been by my side while I sung out to God for my loneliness in a brand new church. I’ve rocked my child close while convincing my own heart of truth in the midst of falling tears. God is at your side. No longer dread. The fires of unexpected sorrow. I’ve swayed with a child against my hip through seasons of joy, doubt, pain, sickness, death, fear, and anxiety. Together we sang with a chorus of saints from various places who echoed out the truths I needed to hear.
Now I stand with my six-year-old pressed against my body, and I glance at the toddlers perched similarly around the sanctuary. I see their little frames grip against the body of their parents, while their eyes and hands move endlessly during the musical refrain. As I pull my six-year-old in close and feel his insulin pump press against my side, I remember all God has done for me with a baby on my hip. I see his steady faithfulness and goodness through hundreds of days of my own fears and failings. I see his gentle guidance and the beautiful display of redemption he has written into my life—one Sunday morning at a time.
This last Sunday, I reached down for my eight-year-old and pulled him up. His head reached above my own, but together we sang a song of worship to our covenant-keeping God. Next, I lifted up my ten-year-old, and squeezed her frame tight. We joined the saints around us and praised the God we can trust in any circumstance.
I don’t think I’m ready to put down my children. I want the reminders a little bit longer. I’m tempted to forget—tempted to dwell on my fears, troubles, and past sin. The work of the Lord often becomes drowned out by the latest worry that presses in on my mind. But when I gather with the saints, and pull that child upon my hip, I remember what’s been true for eleven faithful years and beyond. I remember the goodness of the Lord through season after season. I remember his guiding hand throughout each mountaintop and valley. I remember his tender love for me.
So I’m going to keep picking up my six-year-old. Together we’ll continue to sing songs to the faithful God who will never put us down.
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