I began writing this post a little over 3 weeks after I birthed our third sweet child into my arms.
He is now 9.5 months and I am just revisiting this draft.
The story of his birth I will save for another day, but as I pushed him out, I screamed and gasped for air and my midwife told me to slow down and that I could safely hold him a moment under the surface of the water, gracefully allowing him to float up toward me and everything just stopped.
I stared at this beautiful face that I couldn’t even imagine a day before, and my heart swelled. As my abdomen, which had homed his tiny body for 9 months prior slowly collapsed, my heart expanded.
This feels so natural and unreal at the same time. How can one person feel such love?
But my nature – and I believe our basic human nature – is to contract.
I want to be comfortable. I want to take care of my immediate needs and my family. I want to do the things that make me happy and not really think about the impact my decisions have on others.
I am a selfish person, but the more selfish I become, the more blind and empty and callous I am to the needs of others. And the smaller I become.
Now, love. Love is hard. It may include the feeling I get while holding my sweet, milk soaked baby, heaving soft breaths up and down, up and down, against my chest.
Or the swelling of pride and joy as I look into my sons eyes and see his compassionate heart played out in front of me.
My husband when he wraps his arms around me and tells me he loves me and I know that he means every single part of me, the squishy bits and the broken parts that are still healing and lash out critically at times.
But it is more.
It is sacrifice and surrender and strength.
It is the loss of sleep and the bouncing of the babe when he can’t settle on his own and nothing seems to help him.
It is the steady acceptance and kind discipline toward my older children when they don’t quite get it “right”.
It is the believing the truth my husband speaks to me and exercising grace when we disagree.
It is giving time to another person.
It is listening when there are so many other things to do.
It is offering resources to someone even when (and perhaps, especially) when it is an inconvenience to myself.
It is feeling deeply and mourning with others.
It is being available, even when there are no words.
It is constant.
While I often find myself saying I wish my plate was smaller, instead, I am finding myself longing to expand in love. Beginning with myself and spreading out to my family, friends, and the world beyond.