Sleepless in Spring

I took a walk today and I looked up at the bright blue spring sky popping against bright green leaves on old oak trees and I cried because today my fourth child is eighteen months old, and WE ARE STILL HERE. Pandemic, homeschooling, batshit crazy world but here we are. 

Almost two and a half years ago I was looking at two pink lines and crying big girl tears because I was scared of the pain and the draining, all-encompassingness of pregnancy and labor and life with a newborn and an infant and a toddler. I was scared of burnout again and diapers again and starting over again. I was scared of being broken open again.

When you’re in labor, you have to sort of let go and lean into the pain. You have to partner with it, trust your body, relax down into every wave of hurt. 

And all of that happened! And worse! And I cried through all of it! But here we are! Here I am! I’m still here! So is Jesus! I’ve kept the faith and Jesus has kept me and also delivered me from things I would have been happy to hang onto but apparently didn’t need in order to live a blessed life! 

When you’re in labor, you have to sort of let go and lean into the pain. You have to partner with it, trust your body, relax down into every wave of hurt. 

That’s a nice metaphor but listen, pain is one thing when you’re in labor, but in life it’s another thing altogether, and I resist it like a toddler resisting a diaper change. I make it a thousand times worse by not cooperating. But I’m just so thankful for a God who partners with me in my pain and redeems all things, even the things I suck at. 

And I have learned some things. 

I’m tired, of course, but I’m better at listening through the exhaustion this time around. One night when my son was around two or three months old, I had a shining moment in the dead of the night. It was joy. Joy, pure joy, that took me completely by surprise and was more complete than anything I’ve ever experienced. 

I had been trying to practice gratefulness: even in the middle of the nights, when my feet hit the floor to tread the worn path between my bed and his, I dug through my tired mind to find something to be grateful for. It was a tired exercise and I wondered if it was fruitful, but . . . it was! 

For one night! One night only! The Holy Spirit showed up with the gift of joy! I was truly at rest in Christ, despite my circumstances, and that’s how I recognized it as joy, and not delirium or just happiness. 

All along, it seems, God has been patiently at work in me, sleepless year by sleepless year, sleepless night by sleepless night. 

It hasn’t happened again quite like that since, and there are nights when I choke back frank fury over being awakened again. And again. And again. But even as I regularly ask God to please make this baby-toddler sleep through the night, I am more at peace when he doesn’t. Perhaps, too, I’ve learned some lessons from gardening and trees and age; the things you bury in the darkness sprout. 

The sun is setting later these days, and spring has arrived here in Texas: beautiful, warm-sunned spring, glorious in the dampness of the earth and the new life poking out from every bush, lawn, and tree. I’m remembering to count my blessings again, wherever I find them, not as an act of forgetfulness but as an act of defiance. Listen, I will find God’s goodness where I can. Hope will prevail. 

This evening, in that perfect, glowy evening sun, that slanting light that falls just before twilight, I watched my toddler twirling and wrestling with his older brothers, and I almost died with the beauty and love of it all, even as my eyes were so heavy and gritty with exhaustion that my tears burn. 

Nights come, nights go. The sun rises, the sun sets. Jesus remains. I’m celebrating eighteen months with me and this baby. May whatever we’ve been planting in these long, dark nights grow something good. 

Image Credit: Aniket Bhattacharya on Unsplash

Sarah Guerrero
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