I never feel more alone than at 1 a.m. I want to cry like the nursing baby in my arms did when he woke me up. I want to be held. Really I want sleep. Mothers have a special understanding of a child’s chosen form of communication: cry and be comforted. I certainly want to cry when I am scared, tired, hungry, and uncomfortable. I want to cry because I want someone to pay attention. So I get it. I do.
I just wish there was a vacation day. Or night, rather.
I know the analogy has been well-used in parenting of sleep deprivation as a torturing device. I have to ask if it might be used as a teaching aid. What can we learn in our delirium? Our painful, tired, someone-please-hold-me state of being?
But that’s just it, isn’t it? We simply need to be. We need to recognize we are never alone, no matter how alone we feel. Not only is the Lord with us – in Spirit and in practice as Christ rose before dawn to pray – but so are generations of mothers (and fathers) who have gone before us, those who raise their children alongside us, and those who will come after us.
I am listening to a bird outside my window singing the same notes over and over, and it reminds me of a quote from G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy* about a child’s obsession with repetition being a clear reflection of the character of God. Just as God doesn’t tire of telling the sun to rise or creating the millionth daisy, God doesn’t tire of our need. He doesn’t tire of meeting our need. Nor does He tire of seeing us wake, nurture, sleep, repeat.
When a novelist creates a world, a single book gives us but a single window into a single corner of a universe. There seems to be no limit to the imagination or realm of possibility of story. So it is with us. God not only created the actual universe, He created each of us with our own universe of possibility. We are, each of us, a single window into His master plan, and in our lives we live seasons that act as windows into His plan for us. We all have people we will meet, lives we will touch, tasks we will perform.
God may see the whole universe – His plan, His plan for me – all at once, but my view at 1 a.m. is as limited as my view out a window.
Each window of our lives holds a realm of possibility to be known, to learn, to meet a need. However, just as looking through a window limits what you can see of the world, and as in the picture above can distort it as well, so each season limits and distorts what we see of our own influence and value. We should never be able to see the full scope, because then we become the focus, not God.
What can be learned from the view? Take a good look at where you are right now. Who needs you? What is right in front of you that needs to be done? What story has He already begun in you, and what possibilities already exist in your gifts and talents and passions?
I’m home with my young kids. I still get up – a lot – at night. We’re getting ready to start homeschooling in the fall. I need to consider how God has created me and my family and where He has placed us now. This means a few more “no” responses to things I would love to say “yes” to because of what my family needs of me in this season. When something comes along that’s really important to me, how can my husband and I work together to make my “yes” possible – like this blog, Bible studies at church, and girls nights with my friends? Since I am home most of the time, can I reach out to my neighbors in different ways?
The view out my window shows me plenty to put my hand to. When the view changes, I pray I’ll be ready to faithfully take up the next thing God places before me.
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What’s the view out your window?
*”Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony.
“It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.”
Orthodoxy, 1908, (The Project Gutenberg e-Book, 1994), 143
“The Sun Has Risen Today, Again.” Desiring God. N.p., 2011. Web. 11 July 2016.