I held the youngest little person I’ve ever held, yesterday. Filip Alexander Berry, the first child of my good friends, Nate and Ola, had been out in this big world for about four hours, when I held the sleepy little dude in his blanket bundle at the hospital.
My friends at work tell me I’m a little off-the-charts-excited for a baby that isn’t even mine. And maybe they’re right. But, there isn’t anyone in my twenty-(four) years that has served the kind of role that Nate and Ola have in my life. Just try (1) working in the industry and (2) loving Jesus. These are incompatible items. Two things that just don’t go together without a crash collision at their intersection. It’s a reality that’s been mine – sometimes happily, sometimes begrudgingly. And it’s where I first met Nate.
Before Nate, God gave me Kurt and his lovely wife, Christine. They made work bearable until they moved to where I’d come from, the great mitten of Michigan. When I first met Nate, he intimidated me, but he was my brother in the body of Christ and on that alone, I marked him as my protector and safety in a place where nothing caters to that which I love. He calmed me when I was freaking out, shut me up when I spoke too much, made me laugh when the job was pressing down on me, told a joke when my mouth got me deeper into situations than I’d anticipated, and modeled Christ to me in countless situations. I watched him in order to order my own actions and words. There were times when I would have never known what to say, so I listened to Nate instead. He challenged me, asked the hard questions, pushed me further in my faith, gave me perspective when I was blinded by love and everything else. A list can never satisfy the endless confirmations that the Lord gave me Nate to sustain me at that job. And, no, it’s not all about me, but when God imprints your life so hard with one of His own, it’s hard to dismiss it lightly. It’s hard not to rocket through the roof, screaming to the world that, potentially, the most loving and wonderful couple will be raising a child in this wreck of a world. I’m so thankful it’s them.
I could find words that trail on for days to tell of the fingerprints of God that I find in Nate and in Ola, but I’ll say only one more. Ola’s impact on me lands largely in her gentleness. I’m overwhelmed by her beauty. She radiates the glory of God; and I speak from spending time with her only a limited number of times, I can count them on two hands. I think I loved her before I even met her. Nate spoke so easily about her character, so tenderly about his wife, that even he appeared more gentle and less sure as he spoke of the way she compliments him. The woman who could do that to him must be something else, I remember thinking. At a time in my life when I’m realizing my harsh and stubborn nature, Ola’s gentleness, down to the details of her soft, accented words, comfort me. I’ve sat back with ease and listened to her stories, some struggles, and just her plans for the day or the week. Driving home from her home, I soak in her words and actions as her spontaneous modeling shapes and teaches me. She probably doesn’t even know how I admire her, yet I’m overwhelmed by it.
I raced from work yesterday to the hospital to hold tiny, tired Filip and breath in a sliver of my friends’ joy. I thrilled just to be near such respected children of God. It was like meeting someone famous, chilly excitement courses through my veins, and I’m out of breath in the elevator down to the parking lot. Every moment from when Filip awoke in his little glass box next to Ola’s bed would be brand new for his parents. They’ll learn new things between every nap about Filip’s character, preferences, emotions, and attitudes. All his wirings are secret to them, known only to God, until his Mom and Dad, essentially, meet him. I’m driven to my knees, feeling feeble and at the foot of the cross in the shadow of a miracle like this. A little bitty human will restructure their lives, change their patterns, spring Nate and Ola into a new and strange and glorious season of life.
Maybe it is crazy that I get so uncontrollably giddy about someone else’s baby. But I’m a stranger to shame in that area. I’ll allow myself the overkill again and again. Because when the Lord stomps such deep footprints in my life using this wonderful, Christ-like couple, then I will squeal and smile until my cheeks hurt for their baby boy and for their life as parents. And it may be a while before I get up off my face at Jesus’ feet, in complete awe of the brilliancy of this miracle.