Twenty-one years ago today I held had the overwhelming opportunity to see my first child emerge from her mother’s womb. In the first few moments of her life that warm day in early fall, I was summoned by the staff to cut her umbilical cord. More ceremonial than surgical, a ribbon cutting of sorts, nonetheless she was officially in the world. And her name would be Julia—youthful one.
No longer tied directly to her mother’s marvelous, natural system, yet still dependent on the breast or hand of another for daily life. But not for long. The cord having been cut, she began the journey to independence and self-sufficiency.
Twenty-one years ago today set in motion a process enshrined in mystery. It was one of the true mystical moments of my life. Seeing this perfectly formed child emerge from an adult, eyes closed, plump pink skin, blonde locks already needing a hair-cut, with immediately recognizable traits of her parents, and yet nothing at all like them. It was a “God moment” when I could not help but see the remarkable handiwork of her creator on full display.
And then there was terror. The settling in of reality that this child would one day, far into the future be independent, but for what seemed a very long time, would rely on me, a man in my mid-twenties (and her mother), for food, shelter, clothing, plugging up electrical circuits, age-appropriate toys, diaper changes and the like. And the fact that this child would be a benefactor of my relational qualities and also indoctrinated in my faults. Not only would she be schooled in being a responsible member of society, a member of the body of Christ, a hard worker, a generous giver, and lover of pets and sports and nature. She would also be soaking up like a sponge my immature parenting skills, poor posture, occasional short temper, tendency to blame, (let me not bore you with details!)
Twenty-one years have passed, and I have learned one thing: Julia is not my child. Oh, do not misunderstand me: I am her biological dad. And I have tried to raise her well, albeit I am flawed. But to me was bequeathed the role of raising her in God’s stead. Ultimately, Julia is God’s child. Now God’s young adult! She came from God, no doubt in my mind, and I pray I may never witness the day she returns to God. She has skills and abilities which come easily that I could not acquire in a lifetime. God has great plans and purpose for her unique gifts. Some of it has already come to pass. Many more chapters are yet to be written. In the mean-time, it is my good pleasure to love her unconditionally as does her father in heaven, and over the years become less of a teacher and more of a peer, friend, and confidant.
Today, she turns Twenty-one. An adult in the eyes of the law. A marvel in the eyes of her dad.