It is 4:00 a.m. when a piercing cry bolts me upright in my bed. My feet are on the floor before I am sure what the sound is and where I am heading. The room is dark and even though it is familiar, I stub my toe coming around the corner of the bed. I peer over the edge of the bassinet in the darkness.
She is eight weeks old and just slept for eight straight hours for the very first time.
Her cries indicate that she is as surprised by that fact as I am. I scoop her up close to me and shush and bounce her. It is clear that she needs her diaper changed before I feed her. Together we stumble toward the changing table as her tears slow down and her breath calms.
It’s old hat now to change a diaper in the dark. I cover the plastic changing table with a blanket; it will be cold after laying empty for so long. I keep my face close to hers as I set her down so that she doesn’t think I am leaving. I am humming “Jesus Loves Me” as I reach for a wipe and fresh diaper, but my voice is farther away than she wants, and she screams in frustration.
My body answers before my voice can. Milk soaks my shirt, running down my still squishy, postpartum belly.
Quickly, I fasten the diaper and scoop the baby up again; this time I hold her further away from my now drenched shirt so I don’t have to change her pajamas.
I try to settle us both as quickly as I can so that she can begin to fill her hungry belly, but I am exhausted, and my shirt is soaked. As I am fumbling around in the dark milk streams from my overfull body before she can latch on. It squirts in her face and pings the nightstand that sits 15 feet across the room.
Her cries startle my husband awake who finds the floor damp on his bare feet. He slips as he approaches the recliner to find me laughing and crying all at once and our daughter screaming at the injustice of her food attacking her.
Reflecting back on this experience now, I am reminded that in responding to my child, my body answered before my voice could. Instinctually my body produced more than enough for my child.
This reality offers a truth about God. Consider our God as a nursing mother who is jumping to meet our needs and desires. God does not miss our cries. God is not too sleepy to meet our needs.
And God’s milk overflows. God has more than enough, more than we can eat and more than we need. Like a mother’s milk, God’s love goes beyond just sustaining life and overflows in abundant and luxurious ways. Our lives are not just sustained, they are infused with God’s love that overflows from need to sheer luxuriance. The beauty of roses is excess. The humor displayed in rhinos is unnecessary. The goodness of food is exuberant.
The world is covered over in God’s breastmilk, but we choose to walk around hungry.
This has caused me to wonder, does God laugh or cry as we scream for bellies to be filled?
Rhesa Higgins is a spiritual director and experienced retreat leader. She holds a B.S. from ACU in youth and family ministry and is a graduate of HeartPaths, a three-year program in spiritual formation and direction. Rhesa serves as the founding Director for eleven:28 ministries (www.eleven28ministries.org) in Dallas, Texas, a non-profit dedicated to supporting the spiritual vitality of ministers. Rhesa is also a partner with Hope Network. She is married to Chad and together they are raising their three kids. Rhesa loves good coffee, dark chocolate, baseball, theatre, and most any good book.