Newborns and Finding Rest

This morning I realized I haven’t been resting very well.

For those of you who haven’t heard, I had a baby two weeks ago today, so that statement might seem fairly obvious. Jack Vincent decided to arrive six weeks and one day early, which meant he had to spend 10 days in the NICU learning to breathe and eat and maintain body heat on his own before we could bring him home with us. Our sweet baby boy is adjusting well to life outside the NICU, and aside from some pesky tummy troubles seems to be a good sleeper and a happy baby. He is certainly bringing quite a bit of joy to the lives of his brand new parents and extended family, who thought we’d be waiting another month to see his precious face.

Jack’s been managing to sleep pretty well in between nighttime feedings, and I’m able to nap during the day. In fact, last night I think Zach and I both managed to rack up over 6 hours of sleep! Will wonders never cease?

So why the thoughts on rest? As I was getting ready for the day this morning, I found myself telling the Lord how hard I was trying to keep all the right things in mind in this transitional phase in life – God is sovereign and these hectic, beautiful, stressful, messy past two weeks are part of His perfect plan, babies have to sleep eventually and just because they’re quiet doesn’t mean something is wrong, naps are acceptable whenever I can get them right now. I was trying so hard, I told Him. Please help me keep trying, I asked. Then a question came to mind.

“Emily, what if you focused less on trying so hard and more on resting in Me and my grace?”

I bowed my head for a moment of surrender; rest was something that felt a little elusive. Sure, sleep was available – there were actually quite a few opportunities for that. But rest for the mind, for the soul? That was proving a bit harder to come by. I remembered the point in the early hours of this morning where Zach looked at me and asked, “Why are you so anxious right now?” I didn’t have an answer; it just seemed like there was something I was supposed to be doing that I wasn’t – a diaper that someone else had changed or a bottle someone else had given, a few minutes of crying I didn’t know how to ease. Maybe what I was missing was rest.

But rest has often been hard for me. I say I’m a lifetime teacher’s pet, always seeking to prove my knowledge or skill or general usefulness to anyone that might reward such display of ability with a pat on the back or a gold star of recognition. I long to be found worthy, and I can run myself ragged trying to make it so. It seems entering motherhood has only increased this proclivity for a need of recognition; the more that people tell me I’m handling these things well the harder I feel I have to work to continue to meet their now raised expectations of me. And then I find myself crying at the end of the day because it’s all. so. hard. And we’re only just getting started!

What if I were to take these anxious thoughts captive, however? What if I were to say to myself in moments of frenzied striving, “Be still.” What if I allowed the promises of daily-renewed mercies and the all-sufficient grace of God to speak to my weary soul and bid it rest? Maybe then I’d remember that “all I have needed [His] hand hath provided”. Maybe then I’d remember that Christ has already claimed “It is finished” over my greatest need, Jack’s greatest need, and the greatest need of the whole earth. His empty grave tells me He is making all things new – so maybe tonight, I can quit trying quite so hard.

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