He Gives His Beloved Sleep

"Why do I so often interpret scripture as a long string of to-do’s rather than a relationship God desires from me and the character that it produces?"    

It is equally flattering and frustrating when a newborn determines that he wants only and always to be held by his mother. I believe my two month old has decided just this. So while I revel in the joy of babydom (who doesn’t love the little gurgles, spastic kicks, and soft, chubby cheeks?), its challenges are often right around the corner.

The first months with a new child aren’t the only time that life feels a little chaotic. Whether it’s the learning curve of a new job or the death of a loved one, there are seasons that uproot your daily routine, demanding much (if not all) of your attention and leaving you struggling to just get by.

This, for a go-getting, I-can-do-anything-I-set-my-mind-to millennial, creates the perfect storm of anxiety. My head (affirmed by every mother I’ve ever known) tells me that having a new baby is a time to scale back, but another part of me is compelled to do more. Somehow, I think serving my family means an always-empty laundry basket and encouraging a fellow believer needs to involve a coffee date. I evaluate my effectiveness as a Christian based on the number of spiritual conversations I’ve had or the hours I’ve devoted to organized church activities. Why do I so often interpret scripture as a long string of to-do’s rather than a relationship God desires from me and the character that it produces?

When I consider the woman described in Proverbs 31, with her hands to the distaff and household clothed in scarlet, I fail to see how her actions are the natural outpouring of a heart that fears the Lord. Instead, I look at the list of her accomplishments with irritation, envy, or hopelessness. Right now, my hands are to the diaper genie and my household is clothed in spit up. I must be failing somehow, I think.

It took a conversation in my community group a few weeks ago to stop my head from spinning. “Meredith, maybe what God wants from you right now is simply to invest in your children.” Not find another volunteer opportunity. Or join another Bible study. Or have more people over for dinner. Just serve Him faithfully with the nursing and napping, the dishes and diapers. Each small task, done in response to the love God has shown me, overflows with joy.

So I take a deep breath, and find myself content in quietly comforting my little one. Instead of meditating on my to do list or perceived failings, I turn my heart to Psalm 127 (emphasis added):

"Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth.
Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate."