Here in Raleigh, I'm lucky to have a few friends who gave birth to babies around the time that Lanie was born. One friend even had a baby within 24 hours of Lanie's birth, just down the hall. It's been precious to be surrounded by many new mommies who are just a text away, day or night. In the early days after we got home from the hospital, we'd text encouragement to each other through long nights, breastfeeding woes, and sleeplessness. That connection was the thread that kept me going through many difficult nights. Knowing someone just across town was also sore and recovering, bleary-eyed, and soaking up the newborn days as best as one can... it was a comfort. It felt like a small slice of community in an otherwise isolating season of being sequestered at home with a tiny babe during flu season.
Fast forward 3 months. Lanie's baby buddies seemed to be leaving her behind in one glaring area: sleep. Because of issues related to her tongue tie, she was only sleeping for 2-hour increments. So when I heard updates from my friends that their babies had begun to sleep through the night, to eat on a schedule, and to be somewhat manageable as far as babies go, I wanted to be so thrilled for them. I wanted to say, "That is so wonderful!" without a blip of jealousy in my heart. Instead, I sulked. I felt isolated, forgotten, even bitter at times.
For months too long, I allowed Self Pity to befriend me. She lurked in the shadows, poised to whisper lies when I trudged down the hall for the fifth time in one night to scoop up a screaming baby. She was there at the messy lunch table while I sat alone, discouraged from a never-ending morning of cleaning up leaky sippy cups and shouldering the wearisome monotony of the day. Self Pity was quick to agree with me that what I had wasn't enough, that I worked too hard, and that I didn't get nearly enough credit for my efforts. She commiserated with me as I scanned social media to see sunny vacations and smiling children that felt so far from my reach. I let her keep me company for far too long. I welcomed her seductive, sorry presence. It's as if I believed the same lie that Eve believed in the Garden: that God was holding out on me. Thing could've been so much better, and He was withholding goodness from me.
But here's the thing... even as I've moved out of the sleepless season, it's still so easy to fall back into sulking. Easy to say, "I can't believe I just worked 10 hours at the hospital and now I have to get up with babies in 6 hours. It isn't fair." Easy to compare myself to so-and-so who surely gets 8 hours of sleep every night and has plenty of time for her morning devotions.
This kind of thinking is so isolating. Aren't we all dealing with something that can isolate us or pull us into the shadows of self pity if we let it? Maybe it isn't a difficult baby. Perhaps it's singleness. Maybe it feels like all of your friends have walked down the aisle and you've been left behind. Maybe you've been trying for a baby for years and keep hearing the news that another friend just accidentally got pregnant. You feel isolated. You feel forgotten.
One thing I've learned over the years of walking with Jesus is that He doesn't promise specific things like a marriage or a baby or the career you've always wanted. He doesn't promise me that I'll get more than 6 or 7 hours of sleep in the foreseeable future. He doesn't even promise comfort. Or happiness.
What He promises is His presence. He promises His peace.
In Psalm 32:8, He says, "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you."
Did you catch that last part? It's like honey to me: With my eye upon you. He doesn't treat us as one big lump of humanity. He looks at you, sister. He looks at me. He knows our vulnerabilities, our temptations, our desires. He chooses to know your inmost being.
Can you imagine walking into a counselor's office and, without even telling the her what you were there to talk about, she just starts doling out advice? It would be absurd. God doesn't do that either. He isn't a removed, untouchable Being in the sky who makes rules and then leaves us to figure the rest out. Look at that one tiny verse in the psalms. He will counsel you with His eye upon you. Does that make you feel loved? Known?
I don't know who this post is for, but you, friend, are not forgotten. Not forsaken. Not alone. If you believe in Christ Jesus, you have Him. And in Him, you have more than everything you need.
I'm tired of the isolation. Of the self pity. Of course, I'm tired in general right now - but I'm choosing to acknowledge His sweet presence today.