Friday, July 27, 2012

In This Village

“It takes a village.” A group of people. A network of friends and family. An abundance of love. I’ve spent the last week or so reflecting on the people in our life-- family, friends, acquaintances, the people we’ve deemed ‘family ’ by choice. I’ve thought about their presence in our lives in the last two months as we’ve walked through dark days. I’ve thought about their constancy to check in with us, just one more time, to make sure we’re doing ok. But today, I’ve found myself thinking about their importance to Abi Kate.

She is 18 months old today. At this time a year and a half ago, I was snuggling her up and breathing her in, completely overwhelmed by the fact that she had arrived. The months passed and Tommy & I learned parenting and all its complexities. We loved her more deeply as time raced on-- and we were not alone.

We, of course, love Abi Kate unyieldingly. The sacrifice and dedication to her life flows easily from Tommy& I because she is ours-- an extension of us as individuals and as a united couple. But to see other people love her in that way…. It truly fills my heart with such gratitude and unrelenting tenderness. It has been so unexpected for me that others, even our friends, would love her enough to care about her well-being.

When I’m out of the room and walk back in to see you playing with her, even when your own children are with you-- I notice
When you hug her and tell her you’ve missed seeing her-- I notice
When you gently correct her because you care about her heart and her character-- I notice. 
When you  take time to listen to what she’s saying-- I notice. 
When you bring her little gifts-- I notice. 
When she is genuinely excited to see you-- I notice. 
When you ask me to bring her along too-- I notice.
 When you point out the ways she is changing and growing-- I notice.

I notice your sacrifice. I harbor an endless amount of appreciation for you.

It has literally stopped me in my tracks so many times… that my friends who have their OWN children to love and adore, would take the time to love my child as well. I am so deeply humbled by that expression of care. In the same manner, when I see my friends who do not have their own children yet, come alongside us and love her-- ask how she is, ask to see her, hold her and embrace her… I again find myself feeling so unworthy of that, yet desperately grateful that they would share part of themselves with her. Even without being parents yourselves, you all have known how to love her so well.

I want her to experience the authority of others. I want her to be taught and loved by others, so that she will learn different viewpoints and understand this life with greater depth. I want her to see the character traits that I lack inside other people that share life with us, so that she will adapt those traits. I want her to see how other believers live and love this broken world so that she might do it too. And if she is surrounded, not just by Tommy and me, but by all these other incredibly selfless people then maybe she will have the best parts of all of us.

I am so grateful that we have not walked these last 18 months alone. If you have invested in Abi Kate, have loved her, have hugged her, have shown her grace, have said encouraging words to her… If you have helped us raise her and helped us love her, if you have made our child your child in any sense…. Thank you. Thank you for being a part of this village. There are so many of you but not enough words or tears to explain the importance and value it is in my heart. We are indebted to your kindness and benevolent acts of love. 

“It takes a village to raise a child.” Today, I am so thankful- as parents and for our daughter-- for the village we have found ourselves in. 

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