The hard work of being born anew

         You have been born anew,
         not of perishable but of imperishable seed,
         through the living and enduring word of God.

                  —1 Peter 1.23

Our one-month old grandson squirms and fidgets in my arms. He stares into space, not yet able to focus his eyes. He thrashes, not yet in control of his limbs. He burps and squawks and spits up, his digestive system not yet running smoothly. He can't quite hold up his head yet, but he tries. This is all fairly exhausting, so he sleeps a lot. But not through the night. This sounds pretty chaotic and disorganized, but it's perfect for a one-month old. Every moment his systems are getting organized, his abilities are improving, and his brain is growing, processing an incredible amount of ability and awareness. All this takes time. Meanwhile, he is as beautiful as can be.

It's hard work being born anew. God has raised us from death— that's the fun part that we can tell stories about in church. But then comes the hard work. We leave behind the old life, the habits and assumptions rooted in our old false fears, the coping tricks that we now see are not life-giving, the bound-up self-image, the grave clothes we still haven't shed. “Unbind him,” Jesus said when Lazarus emerged from the tomb. It's hard work. With God's word living in us, we take on new habits, practice new skills, exercise new awareness, try and fail and try again to live in new ways. We learn to forgive ourselves for how awkward it often is. It's perfect for a newborn.

So keep at it. Accept the hard work. Take intentional steps. As hard as it is, as often as you fail, you are held in God's arms. You are cherished more than you can imagine. You are as beautiful as can be.