Cry It Out: What My Sleepless Baby Taught Me About Prayer

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Last night, we let baby Vivian "cry it out" a couple times in the night. Before you applaud or criticize, let me tell you that my philosophy for sleep training primarily centers around the idea that everyone in the house should simply take "the shortest route to rest". 

Sometimes this means nursing her for five minutes to get her back to sleep. Sometimes this means jumping up at her first cry to silence her before my other two daughters wake up. Sometimes this means turning up the whitenoise in everyone's room so we can hunker down into hibernation mode. If you've ever raised a zombie-baby (and this is my third) then, you can understand!

Vivi has been waking up every two hours on the dot for the last several weeks. At times this has fluctuated (as often as every hour, but only as long as 4 hours max) so yes, all that to say, I am quite exhausted. She's almost 8 months old, so the time of her "needing" food in the night has passed, but that doesn't stop her from needing me! I don't mind spoiling a baby, but when it comes to seeing her yawn and rub her eyes throughout the day because her own rest has been compromised, something's gotta give.

Besides, when I say "cry it out" what I really mean is "yell it out". This baby isn't sad, she is just AWAKE! She will shout from her crib and blab nonstop until she either crashes back to sleep or someone comes and sees what all the squawking is about. So, through all the "MAMAs" and the "DADADADAs" last night, I found myself praying and praying that she would find peace and comfort in our absence.

Honestly, I wanted to yell through the door back at her, "YOU'RE OKAY! YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED! WHAT YOU REALLY NEED IS SLEEEEEEP!" But, of course that wouldn't have done any good. She was fully convinced she needed me, whether for entertainment, comfort, or milk, she wanted to be snuggled up in my arms. While my mama heart was aching to give her all she desired, I knew that her needs were best met in what she could not see. The girl needed sleep, and if I had gone in to help her, I would have only stimulated her more which would have set us all back.

It was around 3am when it occurred to me how often I do this to God in my own prayer life. I shout my demands, telling God what I think I need help with, ordering my blessings like I'm reading a fast-food menu! Too often I am distracted by what I see (or want to see) that I totally forget the fact that God is working behind the scenes on behalf of my own good, to provide what I truly need. I'm bratty and short-sighted, while God is thumping me over the head with His Word and shouting "YOU'RE OKAY! YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED RIGHT HERE! TRUST ME!"

Well, God is much more merciful than that, thank goodness! He covers me in grace and I'm once again reminded at how many gaps there are in my prayers. I'm so grateful He fills in the blanks for us and has already set in place the provision for what will bring Him the most glory. I'm reminded how Oh yeah, duh my prayers are actually not a checklist for things I want, but rather a sacred communication and form of worship that connects me directly to my Creator.

Sometimes I cry it out. Sometimes I yell it out. Sometimes it feels like God is silent and nothing is happening and I'm stuck. And somehow my needs are met, all the same. God has already provided what I need, regardless of what I think I need. I just need to trust in Him. Wow, thank you Lord!

Now, when I hear that yelling baby in the night, I will try to focus on the presence of peace that will follow. I listen closely for the hush that follows the cries, for the calm that settles in after the confusion has faded. When that happy, well-rested baby wakes up in the morning, I am grateful that the temporary cries brought about much longer-lasting peace.

Psalm 66:19-20
But God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me! 
Philippians 4:19
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

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