It often goes that many people do, and we all should, see Jesus in other people. My sister, Kelsey, for example, has this vision so clearly she is able to see Him in the children she takes care of and is one of the reasons why she embarked upon her current endeavor. Others see Jesus in the people they come across on a daily basis - a coworker, the homeless man on the street, the cashier at the grocery store. For me, however, seeing Jesus in others doesn't come as clearly as someone else I see in them - my daughter, Avila.
It didn't dawn on me until yesterday that I see Avila in just about everyone I encounter. "What if that person was her?" I often ask myself. "What if she was that premature baby, that abused child, that person who is driving next to me, that UPS guy delivering my package?" And to be honest, I have a different perspective of people now that I see someone so special to me in them. It's like I understand their hurts and their joys on an even deeper level.
What's even more is that I especially see Avila in those who are suffering. It's actually the reason I can't watch certain TV shows or clips on the news. It is too raw, too personal, to see someone that could very well be my child hurting, broken, or in pain. Other than God and my husband, I will never have such an intimate relationship with anyone like I do with my children. I know them. I know Avila's little nuances. I know how loud she likes her CD player at night, why she makes certain faces, and when she simply needs a little cuddle to make it through the day. And it breaks my heart to know there are people in this world who have no one to zip their jammies just right or to build them a fort to read books in.
The awesome thing about all of this is I realize what God is trying to teach me. Having children is about so much more than raising little ones. It is also about showing parents a thing or two they couldn't get on their own. Maybe seeing Jesus in other people didn't come easily to me at first, but now that I have Avila (and another little one arriving soon) to get me one step closer I now see Him a bit clearer than before.
And maybe this is why God gives us kids. We couldn't understand who God the Father was without His Incarnate Son, Jesus, and sometimes we can't understand who Jesus is and what He wants of us without children. Let the children come to me, He says. Maybe this is because Jesus charges children with a special mission of teaching us older, more complicated, people what He really means. I certainly know I have learned more about my faith and the Church through Avila. I have learned why its important for the atmosphere to be beautiful at Mass. I have learned why rote prayers are a good thing. I have learned that what we encounter on TV and in our world really does influence us. But most importantly I have learned how to begin seeing Jesus in other people. And to you, my dear soon-to-be 2 year old, I thank you.