Wednesday, December 14, 2011

God as a Toddler (Revisited)

My little boy turns five this week.  With its nearness to Christmas, his birthday is always a time when I find myself reflecting upon the meaning of the incarnation.  Here's a blog post from 2008 in which I pondered what it must have been like for God Almighty to turn two.

He so loved us that, for our sake,
He was made man in time,
although through him all times were made.
He was made man, who made man.
He was created of a mother whom he created.
He was carried by hands that he formed.
He cried in the manger in wordless infancy,
he the Word, without whom all human eloquence is mute.
— St. Augustine

My youngest will turn two tomorrow. Two is already proving to be a tough age. For the last couple of weeks our once happy-go-lucky baby has increasingly become a frustrated and upset toddler. I think the reason is plain enough. His doing and thinking are progressing faster than his speaking (or at least faster than his parents’ ability to interpret his speaking). On numerous occasions John Curtis will say something which makes perfect sense to him but to my adult ears sounds something like “blah-blah” (think a reversal of Charlie Brown’s teacher here).

I’ll ask, “Do you want a drink?”

He’ll respond, “No” – a word he articulates clearly – and then say again “more ‘blah-blah.’”

I’ll try something else, “A snack?”

“No. More ‘blah-blah.’”

“To sit with Daddy?”

“No! More ‘blah-blah.’”

“To go back to bed?”

“NO! MORE ‘BLAH-BLAH!’”

I can understand why the boy gets frustrated. I get frustrated for him (and in weaker moments with him). I’d like to comfort him with the thought that he’ll soon outgrow this particular limitation. He will, but the truth is, there will be others. So goes the constraints of our humanity.

As I pause this Advent season and think once more of the incarnation I wonder what it was like for God Almighty to be God-the-toddler. Was it frustrating for the God who spoke the universe into being to be forced to learn to use lips and tongue to form the most basic of requests? Did he get frustrated when Mary and Joseph looked down at him in their own frustration, not having a clue what he was talking about? Like any two year old (but unlike any of them, as well), I’m sure he did. Why did God submit himself to such troubles and many more? St. Augustine put it well, because he loved us.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us – John 1:14.

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