Is there anything more beautiful and true than the way a little baby looks at her mother? You can just sense the deep connection there. The love passing back and forth in that moment needs no words or demonstration. It just is.
But there’s more going on in this moment than meets the eye. In the first 3 months of a baby’s life, she is not yet aware of her own identity. Having just come from the womb, where she was literally part of another person, she begins life with that assumption. A young child still sees herself as part of the mother. So when you see a tiny baby looking at her mom, she’s not seeing you and me or even us. She’s sees the mother as part of herself.
They are two, but also one.
Of course, with age, we get over this notion. The child will discover her own hands and the fact she can do things with them. She will laugh as she finds her own feet and sees that they’re ticklish. So much of our growth as people comes as we discover our own identity. Age brings greater and greater awareness of our individuality. We strive to become more and more independent (if you live with teenagers, this is a painfully obvious reality). The focus of maturation becomes developing the I and the me.
This is a necessary process to achieve mature adulthood. But maybe we are also in danger of losing something very valuable.
This is why the theology of the Trinity is so important. Our theology not only encompasses our views of God, but affects how we see and interact with the world. In the Trinity, we assert that God is one – “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” (Deut 6:4) And yet God is also three – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Three, but also one. Each of these facets of God has their own personality and purpose. We interact with them differently. Yet they make up the Triune God.
Honestly, it’s something we assent to, but is difficult for our brains to get around. Do we truly understand how this can be? In all the ways you’ve heard this described, have you ever really understood how this works? I’m not sure this is something my brain can comprehend.
And maybe this is because I actually believe that I am an individual. I have been taught and trained to believe that I am independent – my own person. That I exist on my own. So I approach the world from this viewpoint.
So why am I brought to tears when I see the lives of others devastated by a tornado? My home, my family, my possessions were not affected. Why do I feel my insides churn when I see those images or talk to those who have lost so much? I don’t just feel bad thinking about what would happen if I were in that place. I don’t get sad just fearing that could happen to me. I actually feel for that person. Because we’re connected.
It’s a fact our hearts understand, but our brains find difficult to comprehend.
How much of scripture is dedicated to helping us get back to something we understood in our very first months of life? We are connected. One body, but many parts (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12). Different branches, same vine (John 15).Our actions – even our thoughts – affect our brothers and sisters (Matthew 5). Over and over again, we are reminded that although we are individuals, we are one.
Just like our God, the 3 in 1.
So today, may you see your connection to those around you. May the Trinity not be some theological assertion to agree with, but a reality that affects the way you move and interact with the world. May we all see the beauty of the many that is also one.
May we see our God reflected all around us.