Friends told us that having a third child wouldn’t be a major change for the family, since we’re already experienced diaper-changers and we’ve survived late night cryings and feedings. Regarding the unceasing interruptions that come with a newborn, our friends were right.
What did surprise us was the instant impact David’s arrival had on our other two children. It feels like we were given three children last month, not just one.
How can this be? Well, even after just a few days, we saw previously hidden aspects of our older two children come to the surface. We watched the way they responded and reacted to the baby in our home.
It was like our daughter Julia was more herself now that she was a big sister, not just a little sister. It moved me to see our son Timothy, a lego-building tough guy with little interest in babies, treat his brother with playful tenderness. Overnight, he went from being a boy who wants his own space to a brother who can’t wait to share a room with David when he gets bigger.
Watching our kids, we’ve been given a window into the nature of family and community. We are not lone individuals doing our own thing in this world. We are who we are because of the people around us. A baby brother has completed and fulfilled our other two children, enhancing the life of our family in ways I never expected.
C. S. Lewis, in a famous letter detailing his grief at the loss of his friend Charles Williams, wrote about something similar. He pondered how death not only steals away an individual, but takes something away from all our friends as well.
In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets. Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s [Tolkien’s] reaction to a specifically Charles joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him “to myself” now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald…In this, Friendship exhibits a glorious “nearness by resemblance” to heaven itself where the very multitude of the blessed (which no man can number) increases the fruition which each of us has of God. For every soul, seeing Him in her own way, doubtless communicates that unique vision to all the rest.
This is one of the reasons why life is such a miracle and why death is such a tragedy. New friends and children and coworkers add life upon life. Losing friends and family members diminishes us all.
What a great reminder about the importance of God’s people living in community together, loving each other through trials and celebrations, laughing and weeping together! A church split is not devastating simply because individuals go their separate ways, but because everyone is affected in multiple ways.
Likewise, a church on mission with people who love and laugh and admonish and disciple each other is a glorious foretaste of heaven, where we have more of each other, more of ourselves, and more of God through the power of relationships.