Sunday, October 30, 2011

What babies teach us about gifts

I have known her since before she was born - felt her squirm inside her mom over Family Night Dinners on 8th St, NE, and talked long over Starbucks lattes about the joys of being a daughter, and having one, to a woman who had only had boys before this.

But I just met her, over Subway sandwiches and haircuts, as she slept in the back of our rented car as we drove to the Relevant blogging conference, and her mom and I told stories about writing, and feeling anonymous, and boys (many stories about boys), and the desires that our hearts hold unfulfilled. I kept sneaking glances at her, this seven month old girl, and thinking about what it would be like to have one, what it would be like to become a mother myself, years and seasons ahead of the time I'm in.

And as the days wore on and I got to know her deep blue eyes and the way you can tell she is about to laugh by the way she crinkles the corners of her eyelids, as I rocked her to "Winter Song" on repeat and the weight of her sank into my bones and into my heart... I began to clamor and complain to God. "Why don't I have this, already?" I asked him staring at the ceiling while she slept. "Why don't I have this kind of joy, this particular gift, this calling, this identity?"

The questions flash flooded into my brain, along with their twins: what if.. I never have this, I never get married, I never have children, what if I am not really a blogger, what if I'm not a writer, what if, what if...

Then she stirred, and opened her eyes, and looked at me. And there was the answer: be where you are.
(photo: jessica fairchild)
Babies teach us the hard lesson of simplicity. They only want a few things, and their joy at finding them bubbles over into their squeals of delight. This baby, and her happy sounds, rocking in her stroller completely in love with a plastic water cup, knows how to be where she is. She does not live in fear of what if. She does not complain that she does not have things she sees others having.

So I spent time with this baby this week and her handprints cover my face, and her laughter at my Glee music rings in my ears. Be where you are. 

Be where you are. Let the longings be longings, and hold them in your hands and ponder them. Let the questions be questions, and ask them. Let the laughter be laughter, and the love be the most blessed beautiful love.

Her name means life and grace - and she taught me the way to live them.

"We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you." (Psalm 33.20-22)

All my love,


  1. :) Wow, baby Grace is seven months old already? Time flies.

    Thanks for your post - it was something that I needed to hear, since I keep asking myself the same questions lately... and wondering "What if...?"

    God bless,


  2. Hilary~ What a gift it was to get to meet you in person at Relevant!! You are so lovely and beautiful. I treasure that time, and getting to sit with you and hear you speak, in real life... in the same space.... this was so beautiful and real. Yes, Be where you are. Live that moment well and don't miss the gifts that come with it, seasons do change, and what is now, will eventually be past... ((hugs))

  3. Oh Hilary,

    I'm reading this through tears. Seeing Zoe through your eyes - I guess it just kind of took my breath away. Thank you for the gift of how well you loved her - and me - this week. It's a time we wouldn't trade for anything. You are amazing - the you of right now, in this moment. I wouldn't change that for anything.

    so much love

  4. this is beautiful hilary. thanks for your constant reminders to be where we are and to do so joyfully and hopefully, but to also recognize our longings and desires (even the unfulfilled ones).
    love to you,

  5. Hilary, I was so blessed by your serving Lisa Jo and loving on little Zoe. It was delightful to hear what was going on in your head while you rocked her at Relevant. You write beautifully.

  6. This post makes me remember a scene in the 1994 Love Affair movie where Kathryn Hepburn asks Annette Benning if she's happy. She answers, "I should be, I have everything I ever wanted," or something to that effect. Hepburn tells her getting what you want doesn't make you happy. It's wanting it after you've gotten it, that's the secret." The grass is always greener, isn't it. So glad you are learning to love where you are. A lesson we all need to re-learn at times.

    I loved these thoughts. You always articulate them so well.

  7. Hi Hilary,
    It seems like every time I come here I read something that speaks straight into my heart. And by the lack of a "like" button, I comment, even if it's just a line, or a bunch of mismatched words like these, just to say "Thank you". So, thank you, so much. I needed these words right now :)


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