I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in three months. I know that it is going to be any night now, yet every early morning I am awakened by her sweet snuffles and cries for milk. I feel like I am on the brink of total exhaustion and my brain is mush. I haven’t written much lately because I am not sure whether I can put coherent thoughts together.
I have done this before, eight times! You would think that I would have it down. Yet somehow it is all new, with this new little, bitty, pretty one.
I don’t know much for sure, except that there is nothing like motherhood to reveal your weaknesses. Motherhood is able to bring even the most confident woman to the realization that she knows almost nothing at all. But what a gift that revelation is!
To meet this new person that I have felt wiggling inside of me is pure magic!
Her skin is soft as silk.
Her eyes are big blueberries.
Her lashes are so long and curly, just like a little girl’s lashes should be.
She sleeps a bit more than the boys did, and her cry is softer. She begins to smile and I see that she has dimples around her mouth like I do, and a big dimple in her cheek like Daddy does.
She seems very peaceful, thank you Jesus! But the next week she is awake for hours at a time and doesn’t seem to want to sleep, oh no! By the next week she has settled into a predictable three hour feeding pattern. But the next week after that is totally different! Finally I think I have her figured out; she will sleep until 5am and pretty soon be sleeping the entire night! Yes!! I can get my life back! I can regain my energy, plan my day, exercise, and fit back into my normal clothes again.
But then I find myself sitting in the chair again at 3am, nursing the little bundle in the dark. I am so tired. My eyelids are heavy. So…hard…to…stay…awake. My head sinks to my chest. WAIT! My head snaps back up. My eyes are open. I must…stay…awake! I have fallen asleep in this chair night after night and now my neck has a kink in it and my back is sore. I must feed her quickly and get back into bed! I must be strong!
Little Bitty One is totally unaware of my concern. She nurses lazily and takes almost an hour. I hear the very first bird song at 3:45am. Why are those crazy birds awake so early? The sun won’t be up for hours. How I wish I didn’t know when the first bird starts singing. How I wish I was sound asleep, blissfully unaware of the secret life of birds!
I guess I could be enjoying this quiet time when no one else is awake. I suppose I could spend this time praying. Alright God, here goes. God, please help me to not fall asleep in this chair. Please, please, please let Annalise sleep through the night tomorrow night! I feel like I can’t do this one more night! Please, please, please let her get into a predictable schedule. Then I can start getting up before the rest of the children. I can start to have a quiet time each morning. Then I can start to pursue you more, God.
Suddenly it hits me. God’s grace is for me RIGHT NOW! Not at some point in the future, but right now. It is always RIGHT NOW.
Joseph Garlington shared this definition of grace – “God’s enabling presence that empowers us to accomplish our created purpose.” God’s presence is with me right now, in the middle of the night. His voice is whispering words of love and truth right now to my sleepy brain. He is wooing my worried heart. If I spend every moment thanking Him instead of wishing for something else, I can bring His presence closer. I can cultivate my awareness of Him and accept His power to do what He wants me to do…RIGHT NOW.
And what could possibly be a better time? His power is perfected in weakness, and I am so weak. He says that His grace is sufficient for me in times like these. Not just enough to survive. No, this is an overflowing, abundant grace that is more than enough for me…RIGHT NOW!
Nursing this baby 6 to 8 times a day for an hour each time means I can’t accomplish very much. Trying to figure out how to do my normal grocery shopping and errands and therapy appointments each week in the two hours between each feeding makes my brain hurt. Thinking about having to give up my afternoon nap just to get important things done sends me into a panic! No, I don’t have much time to check off items on my to-do list. But I do have plenty of time to sit and nurse, admire my Pretty One and snuggle.
Time to pray and read and think.
As I think back over my life, I can see some things very clearly. I see that most things I have attempted to accomplish I have done because I felt like I SHOULD. Because I would feel guilty if I didn’t. Because I wouldn’t be as good of a mother as someone else. I did those things out of my own strength, my own ability, my own effort. And I failed at most of them.
I think about Solomon’s words in Ecc 3:14, “Everything God does will endure forever. Nothing can be added to it and nothing taken away from it.”
I think about Jesus’ words in John 15:5, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” Nothing of eternal significance that will endure that is. I have done a lot of things! I have spent a lot of energy and time and have gotten grumpy and stressed out to do a lot of things. But those things WILL NOT ENDURE.
Now that I am in a position where I feel like I can’t get anything done, it dawns on me. That is the point! That is what God is trying to teach me…RIGHT NOW! His grace is sufficient and when I rest in Him, He is accomplishing things through me that are significant beyond my imagination. Like growing this little girl, one feeding at a time.
Someday my life might get easier. Someday I might have it down and be able to coast effortlessly through the day. Maybe. So I must make the most of this season…this wonderful and difficult season. Because this season of weakness is how God is showing me His amazing grace.