My Garden

Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. Romans 5:18

“One trespass resulted in condemnation for all people. You may be tempted to ask, is that fair?” began the preacher, “but I would then ask, do you really think you could’ve done a better job than Adam?

I heard shuffling on the row behind me as a voice, tiny but confident, squeaks out a strong “yes!” and the room erupts with laughter. It was the voice of a small girl, maybe four or five years old, and I was trying to hold in my own laughter as I took the girl’s feelings into account. The laughter died down, the pastor smoothed things over, and the sermon continued as though nothing had happened.

But in the corner of my eye, I saw the small girl crawl into her father’s lap. I heard her whimpering quietly. I was just enough distracted from the sermon to continue feeling sorry for the young girl’s embarrassing moment when I heard her father speak. Stroking her hair, I heard him say, “It’s alright, baby. Everything’s okay. I’m so proud of you for paying attention. You did so good.”

Aside from sharing this touching moment between father and daughter (parenting win!), I’ve told this story so that we might take a moment to think about that little girl’s point-of-view. When the pastor asked if anyone could’ve done a better job than Adam in the Garden, he was asking a rhetorical question. A question to make a point. A question that is meant to make you think and is not meant to be answered. Hence the hysterical laughter of 600+ people when that unknowing little girl gave her answer anyways.

The pastor’s point was that we would NOT have outdone Adam. I would’ve eaten the apple. You would have too. We can all be wise adults and own up to such things. Especially in church.

But in our heart of hearts, your heart and mine, do we really believe that? Because I know that day after day I find myself trying to out-do Adam in every aspect of my life. My Garden is just a little different than his.

We look at Adam and scoff because God literally gave him EVERYTHING besides that one tree. Everything. And we look back to the Garden and wish that we could have walked and talked with God. Adam did. How could you choose an apple over that?

But my Garden is no less filled with God’s presence, and my temptations are no more tempting. While Adam may have walked with God, I have Him in my heart. And while Adam felt God’s love though His grace and provision, all I have to do is look at the cross.

All of God’s people have been blessed through a relationship with Him, but salvation does not bring perfection–YET. Thanks to Jesus’s one righteous act, I will one day spend my eternity in Heaven. God WILL make me perfect! And until that day, I want to spend my every day on this earth striving to be more and more like Him.

But the important truth is, we can’t do it on our own. And that’s easy to say when we’re begging God’s grace. Easy to agree with when the pastor preaches it from the pulpit. But I hope that day after day as we continue to eat apple after apple, constantly proving our own unworthiness, that we will see ourselves as the little girl sitting behind me in church and understand that much of the time we DO think we could’ve done better than Adam; we try to prove that over and over again in our vain attempts at perfection.

So, while on this earth I may answer rhetorical questions and try unsuccessfully to direct my own heart, I’m thankful for a Father Who pulls me into His lap, strokes my hair, and says, “It’s alright, baby. Everything’s okay.” And thanks to the second half of the verse and God’s unending mercy, I can say with confidence that everything will be okay.

Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. Romans 5:18

Thank you, Jesus, for justification and life.

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The First One

In life, firsts are exciting. Your first day of high school, your first car. Your first job. No matter what it may be, it’s just a little bit better when those first-time jitters are present, hopping around in your stomach. But it’s also exciting to be the first one! The first one to dip a spoon into a brand new jar of peanut butter. The first one to cross a finish line. The first one to try something new.

God has a plan for each and every one of our lives, and it just so happens that his plan for me was to be the first one. First one of my friends to get engaged. First one of my family to move out of state. First one of mine and Trigg’s siblings to have a baby, which also means first to give a grandchild to both sets of grandparents (and great-grandchild to my grandma). As I mentioned earlier, these are all exciting things. But being the first to cross the finish line means there will be a period of time when you stand there alone as the other runners catch up to you.

Sometimes it’s hard to be the first one. It was hard to move away and see my friends rooming together in college. While they remained close, I was miles away in the middle of planning a wedding, choosing a place to live with my soon-to-be husband, and trying to make new friends. New friends my age were surprised to learn that I was engaged. New friends married or engaged were surprised to learn that I was so young. I was the first one.

Now, years have passed, and many of my friends are married. You can imagine their excitement and the excitement of my family as Trigg and I announced that we were having a baby! Sweet Nellie is surrounded by friends and family who go above and beyond to love on her. So many women have been there for me time and time again—already in just these short seven months. And yet, once again I find myself across the finish line from everyone else. Friends and family who are mothers have had experience raising babies—but all of their babies are grown up. Friends my age who are there for me haven’t had babies yet—and if you are a mother, then you’ll understand why this matters. I’m the first one.

The first month of Nellie’s life was the hardest month of my life—but it taught me so much. First, and most importantly, it taught me that I can get through ANYTHING in this life—bring it on—as long as I have my Jesus to lean on. And since in His word it says He will never leave me or forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6), I don’t have anything to worry about.

Next, I learned that postpartum is stinking hard, people.

H. A. R. D.

And every single mommy has to get through it. Now it just wouldn’t do to be angry with God for making me “the first one” to have a baby, since, as I said, He was the One to bring me through it, after all. So instead, I’m focusing on the realization of just what a blessing I’ve been handed.

I know postpartum. I have experience teaching a baby to nurse (and failing to teach a baby to nurse, at first). I know how it feels to take that little “bundle of joy” home and wonder why your “joy” is hidden beneath so much fear. I know what it’s like to distort motherhood into this unrealistic picture of supermom—the woman who always knows why her baby is crying and never needs naps. And I know what I wish I had after having a baby. What nobody—perhaps not even myself—knew that I needed.

People.

People—mothers and non-mothers—to be there for me when I thought I didn’t need them—or at least thought I wasn’t supposed to need them. When I was too embarrassed to admit that I didn’t have it all together. People to take time out of their day to bring a meal for my family. People to hold my baby while I cry (yes, it happens) and let me get some rest. And mothers to stand by me and say,

You’re doing great. Your baby loves you so much. Keep it up, momma.

Being “the first one” means that I didn’t have any friends in my stage of life to share postpartum with. But God put all of the right people in my path to make it quite clear to me that He doesn’t want it to be that way. So now, on the other side of this finish line looking back, I’m ready. I’m ready for all of the new mommies who don’t yet know that it’s okay not to have it all together, and it’s okay to need other people. And when they need me, I’m ready for them. I’m ready to be there for each momma, holding her baby while she cries and saying,

You’re doing great. Your baby loves you so much. Keep it up, momma.

 

-Cari