the gift of belonging

“One day God says to the angels, “I have an idea. I am going to create the family”.

An angel asks, “What is it?”

“I am very excited about this idea,” God says. “Of course, I am excited about all my ideas. One of the great things about being God is you just never have a bad idea–but this one is special. Family is going to be the way I connect people in love. It will work like this. Adult people will sign up to take care of a tiny little stranger.”

“Are they going to get paid?” the angel asks.

“No, that little stranger is actually going to cost them a lot of money. Not only that, but the little stranger won’t even be able to talk at first. It will just cry and scream, and you will have to guess why. It will make you lose sleep. It will make messes all the time that you have to clean up. It will be utterly vulnerable. You have to watch that kid twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Then when it’s two , that little stranger will be able to say words like “no” and “mine”, and it will throw tantrums. And then I am thinking about inventing puberty. I am not too sure about that one yet, but if I do, they will get these strange things called hormones that will go crazy. Odd things will happen to their bodies. They will get pimples, their voices will crack, and their limbic systems will melt down. Then they will grow up, and just when they are mature and beautiful and interesting and able to contribute, they will move away. That’s the idea. What do you all think?”

The angels shuffle around and look at their feet. Who’s going to tell him?  they think. Lord, who would sign up for that? Why would they do it?

Here is where God really gets excited. “They won’t even know why. They will just look at that little body, those little hands and feet, and they will think that this tiny little stranger is beautiful, even though he looks like every other baby and all babies look like Winston Churchill. then one day that little stranger will smile at them, and they will think they have won the lottery. That little stranger will say ‘Dada’ and ‘Mama’ but it will say ‘Dada’ first because daddies are just so self-sacrificial and noble and….how I love them. But moms are good too. So it will say ‘Dada’ and ‘Mama’, and then those little arms and hands will open up and reach out and wrap around the neck, and it is going to feel to that grown up that for the first time now they understand why arms and hands were created.


“What it’s really all about is just grace. Children, the new generation, will learn that they are prized and belong before they have ever done a single thing to earn it. The old generation will learn that when they give, they will receive. When they give the most, they receive the most. And then one day I will tell them, ‘Human race, I am your father, your mother (added by me). You are my daughter, you are my son’. They will get it and they will be undone”.

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you John Ortberg.

(from ‘the me I want to be’ published in 2010)