Yesterday was Jacob’s Baptismal day. I didn’t grow up celebrating Baptismal days, and I didn’t know that anyone did. John’s family introduced me to this tradition, and if only for the fact that it doubles the amount of cake you can justify each year (eight birthdays + eight Baptismal days = cake! cake! cake!), I found it to be a really great thing to commemorate.
John’s family, and I’m sure others too, mark the day not only with special dessert after dinner, but also with a chance to “honor” the person being celebrated. Even when I was John’s girlfriend, I loved being part of this tradition. In whatever order people feel comfortable, everyone around the table shares something he admires or appreciates about the honoree. Sometimes it’s a recent act that displayed joy, faith, or integrity. Sometimes it’s something the honoree did to motivate the honor-er to think more about his or her own faith or character. Other times, it’s more simply the characteristics of the honoree that inspire honor-ers to be better, stronger, happier people.
Whether the honoree was John, one of his parents, or one of his siblings, I enjoyed offering my own thoughts as much as hearing everyone else’s. How often does a family take the time to consider the beauty, the individuality, and the promise of each of its members? This sort of encouragement is something I hope John and I can foster in our own family, and that starts today.
In the midst of all this honoring, there was always one comment that, frankly, baffled me. Whoever could get to it first would honor the baptismal day boy/girl for being a “son or daughter of God.” For a long time, I didn’t understand this. Weren’t we remarking on things the person had chosen to do? Characteristics that, even if they came naturally, the person allowed to shine even in tough situations? How could we honor someone for something over which he or she had absolutely no control?
Being Jacob’s mother, I’ve come to understand this in a very humbling way this year. Every day I learn something new about Jacob’s character, his temperament, and the choices he’s likely to make. Yet even before these things began to surface, I loved him simply because he was a little boy, my little boy, made in the image and likeness of God. I love him simply because he exists. And that is how God loves us—simply because we exist.
So today—or yesterday, really—I honor Jacob for being a son of God. And for teaching me what that means.
Happy Baptismal day, Jacob!