Five boys, Baruch Hashem.
How in the world did that happen?
What I do know is that my house has been transformed into a jungle. My two older ones as of late enjoy capitalizing on my innate disgust towards creepy crawly creatures. Now they like to secretly place a plastic bug in front of me, on my shoulder, or on my head, and then yell hysterically, “Imma, what’s that?!” Their favorite move is when they throw the bug in my face as I’m holding the baby. It takes all of my willpower to not scream/get mad/drop the baby and chase after them while screaming.
Somehow my life has become a collection of gross bugs and stinky socks. Seriously stinky socks.
But, wait – that’s not even what I wanted to write about. How did I even get on this subject?
Okay, so let’s talk about the fifth boy. He’s delicious, eats about 35 times a day, and only wants to be carried around. But he’s so delicious! How can I say no?
At two months old, my little angel is starting to make cute little noises. It’s just a short, “Ooo,” here and there, but when he does it, I go crazy! I grab him and smother him with annoying, loud kisses, especially on his second chin, which is like Heaven for me. I have to hold myself back from biting him in all of his soft, fluffy, deliciousness! And that’s when I realized something- there are so many similarities between a baby’s relationship with his parents and our relationship with God.
First of all, every parent knows that there’s no better love than loving your little baby – except, of course, if you’re on zero sleep and your baby has colic. But let’s focus on the love instead. We love our babies just because they’re our babies! We don’t need another reason to love them. They do nothing for us – they don’t talk to us; they don’t thank us for our hard work and dedication. They don’t offer us a promotion or a free all-inclusive vacation in Jamaica. They just sit in their swings and look around.
But to us, they’re the sweetest, cutest, most special things in the world. Even when we have to change their dirty diapers we still love them like crazy. No matter what they do, our love for them doesn’t diminish.
Isn’t this similar to how God loves us? You know, I never heard of the concept of God loving us before I was introduced to Rebbe Nachman’s teachings. I didn’t grow up religious, though we did have a strong sense of Jewish identity in my family. We had matzah ball soup and gefilte fish every Friday night in order to maintain our Jewishness.
To be clear, knowing about the concept of God loving us didn’t change my perception of life all at once. It was a gradual understanding which continues to expand with my (hopefully) increasing spiritual awareness. But with this baby, I can now clearly see the parallels between our love for our babies and God’s love for us.
No matter what we do, God loves us. No matter how much we sin, God loves us. If we just sit on the couch, watch TV, burp, and make occasional one-syllable noises, God sill love us! Nothing, and I really mean nothing we do will change God’s love for us. We are His babies, His most precious creations, and therefore, He will love us forever and ever.
Here’s something else I realized- my baby has no idea who I am. He probably thinks I’m some nice lady who feeds him and holds him when he wants. He doesn’t understand that he is a part of me- literally my flesh and blood. He doesn’t remember that he spent 9 full months growing in my body. He doesn’t recall his slow and painful birth.
Furthermore, my son has no idea how much I love him. He has no idea that he is- along with his brothers- the love of my life, my everything. He can’t understand how much I worry for him and want the best for him.
And what about bath time? He is the first one that absolutely HATES getting bathed. As soon as his little feet touch the water, he’s screaming. But does that mean that I am punishing him? God forbid! He doesn’t understand what he is suffering for. He doesn’t realize that I am bathing him so he stays clean and healthy. All he knows at that moment is how much he is suffering.
When our babies cry, don’t we drop everything to tend to their needs? Don’t our hearts melt for them? At that moment, there is nothing more important in the world than making our babies happy again. But do they even realize what’s going on in our hearts and our minds when they cry? Can they see and understand anything beyond their extremely limited perception?
Doesn’t this sound exactly like our relationship with our Father?
His love for us is infinitely beyond our conception. We are so far from understanding and feeling unconditional, complete, and perfect love between ourselves- how could we ever expect to understand God’s love for us?
And what about our knowledge of God Himself? Do we have the slightest glimpse of Who our Father is? Even the greatest sages and our forefathers had a limited understanding of God. It is simply impossible in our physical reality to completely know something that is beyond physicality.
Do we know where we came from? So many people still don’t even believe in a Creator, let alone a world beyond the one we live in. Do we remember living in the Heavenly womb, preparing ourselves for our journeys down to Earth? Do we remember our own births? Do we remember our previous deaths?
And here’s the most difficult aspect: let’s say we really believe that God is our Father, and that we came from a world beyond. When we go through difficult, painful, impossible situations- do we really believe that our Father loves us? Or do we think He’s punishing us? Do we really deep down know that those challenging times are for our ultimate best? Do we really appreciate that our Father is just cleaning up our souls from all of the filth we have piled on them?
The cleaning hurts. Sometimes it hurts so much that we also cry like a baby. But we can’t see our Father taking us in His arms and holding us close to Him. We can’t see how He is doing everything He can to help us survive our difficult times. All we know is that it hurts! So, we cry.
It seems to me that we truly are babies.
Are we therefore doomed to a life where we’re stuck in “baby-consciousness mode” forever? Of course not! We have EMUNA! Emuna is the key to helping us know that beyond this world that looks so cruel and unfair, there is a reality that is perfect. There is a Creator that loves us and is making sure we don’t stray too far from Him. Our Father wants us close to Him! Emuna tells us that our Father is not punishing us when we’re suffering; He’s just cleaning up the mess that we made!
Can we ever expand our knowledge and understanding of God beyond the current limitations of our five senses? Probably not, unless we become big tzaddikim like Rav Arush. But you know what? We don’t need to worry about that. All we need to focus on is building our emuna in the areas where we need help and during the times that are painful for us.