I do not have baby fever. When my little brother was born, and I discovered that my mother had to get a fluids IV in her arm, I swore off ever having children purely to avoid the IV needle. I’ve since recanted my 3-year-old self’s position (even after learning the needle isn’t the hardest part, ha), and I fully hope that the Lord will bless my husband and me with children — but I’m just not one of those girls who loves the idea of pregnancy and childbirth. Still, if you watch me in church on any given Sunday, chances are I’m making googly eyes at whatever family’s baby is sitting in front of us.
In the grocery store checkout line, in the airport, in the coffee shop from which I’m writing this where a pigtailed little girl sitting with her mother just waved what looked like a pizza crust at me — I dare you not to smile when a baby giggles at you. For a second, you get to see the world through a baby’s eyes.
Babies don’t have their noses buried in phones, they don’t awkwardly look down when they pass you, and they smile indiscriminately — they don’t see what kind of clothes you’re wearing, your skin color, or anything but a face to smile at. To be the beneficiary of such a smile is to receive joy, no matter if you have your own family at home, if you’re an older parent reminiscing of “those days” with your own children, if you’re a young single who hopes for a family one day, or anyone else.
Especially at Christmastime, this unconditional warmth reminds us of the Christ child, whose indiscriminate love for the world is reflected by all the best things about friendly babies. By becoming flesh and making his dwelling among us, Christ offered to the world the acceptance, joyfulness, humility, and otherworldly purity from whence springs all the goodwill smiling babies share with strangers.
Just as we can miss the beaming faces of our infant brethren by being too preoccupied with our own affairs, we risk forgetting the Savior whose advent we are purportedly celebrating. Amid the commercialized busyness of the Christmas season, the innocent smiles of babies remind us not only of the infant King who condescended to walk among men but also of the posture our own hearts should have toward him. We are all created in God’s image and are called to look to Him with child-like faith so we might become His children.
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us,” writes the apostle John, “that we should be called children of God!”
To the baby in my local coffee shop and all the other tots spreading their glee to strangers — thank you for sharing your Heaven-sent joy with us. And thanks, too, to all of the parents who juggle strollers, diaper bags, and squirming children in public. (I promise, if you’re treating your child with love, we’re far more likely to notice that than whether her shoes match.) You deserve our thanks, for sharing with the rest of us a glimpse of the effervescent joy those smiles bring into your own homes — and the joy that Christ’s incarnate love should inspire in each of our hearts.