Seasons of Joy
May 17, 2010
Disneyland Is No Place For Kids!
July 27, 2010
Seasons of Joy
May 17, 2010
Disneyland Is No Place For Kids!
July 27, 2010

In The Image of God

As I walked by Gracie’s room I caught a glimpse of her out of the corner of my eye and whipped around. Giggling in amazement I ran to get the camera. She was sweetly talking and singing as she gently diapered her little brown bear, then picked “her” up and hugged her. Wow. My heart melted.

Not long after I captured Gracie on film care-taking for another bear-friend. This time making sure he was securely fashioned in the high chair before filling Bear’s tummy with a lovingly prepared meal… and again she sang as she attended to Bear.
At her grandmother “B’s” house she has a little baby doll with bottle. As soon as B gets out the toys, Gracie pulls out “Baby!” and begins to feed her, hug her, and pat her on the back. She walks around rocking Baby in her arms and sweetly says in her sing-song voice “Shhhhh, don’t cry, Baby… don’t cry.” My sister-in-law Andrea commented once: “Isn’t it amazing? How that instinct for caretaking starts so young? It’s incredible, it’s just there!”
I wonder about this. I ponder with the little wheels in my head spinning ‘round. Why was it so? I have many friends who will say that it is mimicking. It is learned. You care for her so she copies what she experiences. Really? I’m not 100% sold on that. We, of course, change Gracie’s diapers and feed her… but we don’t sing in our day to day motions of caring for her. We certainly comfort her when she cries, but we have never said “Shhhh, don’t cry baby.” while patting her back. Doug & I usually hug her to us and say “You’re alright… its ok….” So it’s something deeper than just a learned behavior. There is something in her disposition and countenance that drives beyond the “education” of “monkey see- monkey-do.”
I have another friend who will say it is built- in instinct. It’s evolutionary. It’s been coded into our DNA- so it’s just there as part of our means for survival. I don’t subscribe to that explanation either. There is something deeper going on here. Deeper than learned behavior or DNA. I think my sister-in-law was right on the mark… “It’s amazing…. It’s just there!”
It is “just there” because we are designed by God, in his image. Because he created us we hold deep in our hearts the greatest capacity of love and nurturing. As He cares for us, so we desire to care for others. It is the place from which our compassion is born. Because He is a loving and compassionate Lord who formed us, we have that quality already written on our hearts before we are even born.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb…
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made….
When I was woven together…
your eyes saw my unformed body.
Psalm 139: 13-16 (NIV)
But because we live in a broken world we harbor a nature of selfishness that impedes our divine nature. When I speak of our divine nature I am not professing that we are god. He is God. We are not. He is the creator, we are his works of art, his “jars of clay”; therefore, our divine nature is His reflection in us. But because we live in a fallen world we struggle against our self-centered nature. Even the most mature of us have from time to time unleashed our toddler tantrum when we have not gotten our way. It is a constant battle within, between the brokenness of our selfish nature and the fullness of our love in Christ, but that innate desire to love, comfort and shower out compassion is “just there” because He placed it in our hearts, because we were hand crafted to reflect God.
The question then remains— which nature shall we nurture? Who shall conquer and who shall rule our hearts? Our SELVES… or our Christ? Pray, Lord, let Christ, who draws out our Christ-like nature, win over our hearts. For I argue it is neither learned nor evolutionary. It is conditional. Our human condition makes us weak to the will of the self, but praise God, He manifests His divine nature in us, that our hearts know and long for love, compassion and connection, so that by His nature our SELF may be tamed and our divine nature may reflect His divine compassion.
A few days ago it was I, rather than some inanimate stuffed bear or doll, who benefitted from Gracie’s compassionate nature. I had been on my feet all day. It had been one of “those” days. The ache in my head and my back were finally getting to me and I sprawled out on the kitchen rug, prostrate and in exhaustion. I slowly lifted myself to stretch out my back in the “Child’s pose” as I pressed out a deep sigh. And then I felt a tiny hand rubbing my head, and I heard a tiny voice singing “Mama?” As I turned my head away from the floor I was greeted with the brilliant shine of Gracie’s smile as she squatted next to me and continued to rub my head. “Ok, Mamma? You Ok, Mama?” “I’m ok.” I whispered with a smile. “Ok,” she whispered back as she continued to rub her hands through my hair, “Ok, Mama…”
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show
this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
2 Corinthians 4:7 (NIV)

God Created man in his own image. Genesis 1:27 (NIV))
Reflecting God’s nature. Genesis 1:27 (MSG)