When Adelade’s first Christmas rolled around, I was determined that I was going to buy her a baby doll. But, not just any baby doll. I wanted her to have the queen of all dolls, the prettiest little thing that I could find. The doll that I just knew was going to be ragged by the time she was five, after having been carried lovingly in her arms for so many years. Her absolute favorite. I was going to choose the ultimate in child playthings.
I did weeks worth of research and finally settled on the Corolle brand. I wanted her baby to be a real keepsake, a treasure for her to show her own daughter one day. I just knew that when she saw this gorgeous little doll, she would instantly fall in love, and the rest would be history.
Christmas morning arrived and I could hardly contain my excitement. Adelade looked at the doll and touched it, but there didn’t seem to be any kind of love connection. I was disappointed. After all, I had carefully chosen this perfect specimen of dolliness for her delight, and her response had been totally underwhelming.
Well, someone else also bought Adelade a baby doll that Christmas. It was your standard, run-of-the-mill, WalMart or Dollar Store dolly variety. Cheap clothes. Forgettable face. Hard plastic arms and legs as opposed to the plush velvet decadence of her special Corolle doll.
And, wouldn’t you know it? She instantly fell in love with that ugly little baby. She carried it everywhere. She almost immediately removed the cheap little outfit it was wearing and lost it forever, so the baby was “naked” for most of its life. She slept with it, strolled it, and fed it hundreds of pretend bottles while the sweet little fancy baby doll that I had agonized over sat in a corner gathering dust on its pretty little pink velvet dress.
Years later, the cheap little baby is worn. It shows signs of having been loved for many years by a certain little girl. And, yes, even though it still causes me to shake my head in wonder, it is THE doll that I have saved for her to show her own daughter one day. She chose to love the lesser of the two dolls, and even though I don’t understand it, somehow it makes me happy to see that little slobber-stained homely toy.
Maybe I like to think about her choosing that cheap little thing because it’s a reminder to me that God is like that, too. He kind of has a thing for underdogs. Think of Abraham the liar and adulterer, Moses the murderer, David the lowly shepherd, Zaccheus the hated tax collector, Saul the overseer of Christian executions. God loves to take these people with the terrible past, some with real mess-ups throughout their lives, and use them to do great things for His kingdom.
Sometimes we look at the people around us and we feel like we don’t measure up. Other people look to us like that beautiful, pristine, expensive baby doll. I mean, they are the obvious choice for God, we think. We can’t compete. Not when others are so beautiful or talented or gifted. Not when others are more important, have more money, or seem like better people than we are. We are the ragamuffins. We are the run-of-the-mill. We are the ordinary. Yet, God loves us. In fact, He might have a special place in His mysteriously unending love just for people like us.
Adelade didn’t go for the glitz and glamour. Sometimes God doesn’t either. Sometimes He is looking for His very own diamonds in the rough places. He loves those of us who look to everyone else like a cheap, unremarkable piece of coal. And He can turn us into something beautiful. Just being loved by Him makes us shine, even if we still feel like we are the ugly naked baby in the room. God’s love matters. And when we come to the end of our lives and we are well worn by His love and His mercy and, yes, His discipline, we will feel the full weight of our gratitude for our precious Master, who chose us despite our mediocre tendencies. His love is real, and it reaches to even the most unexpected places. May we love Him well in return.