A day or two after Christmas, once all the gifts had been opened and enjoyed, Jonathan remembered something. He went to the garage and returned with a mug, which he handed to me with a grin.
“I hid it so well I forgot I had it.”
I laughed, both at his words and at those on the mug itself.
All Mama wants is a Silent Night.
That’s a lot of truth for one coffee cup.
In the last several weeks, Miles has settled into a predictable pattern at night. He wakes twice: once at midnight, and once around 4 a.m. I don’t have much room to complain, here; many infants do much worse than that. (I know this firsthand – I had one of them.)
Still, the interrupted nights are taking their toll on me. Miles used to sleep longer than four hours at a stretch, and so, last night, determined to break him of the habit of that midnight feeding, I asked Jonathan if he would help our son the first time he woke. He agreed.
I closed my eyes, anticipating better sleep with a smile on my face.
Midnight came, and with it, the sound of cries from down the hall. I nudged Jonathan awake. He settled Miles, who only lodged a minor protest at the change in routine. All was well.
Except then Miles woke half an hour later. Jonathan settled him again.
Half an hour after that, Abby got up, needing the restroom. She took care of things on her own but then came, wailing, into our room. “It’s too dark, Mama!” I gathered her up and carried her to her bed, only to be called back five minutes later to locate her stuffed tiger.
An hour later, not long after I’d finally drifted back to sleep, Miles woke again. Resigned, I nursed him, wanting only to recover some brief amount of sleep before morning came. I got it: three hours, and then I was back in the rocking chair, convincing a wide-eyed baby that 5:30 was too early to be awake.
So much for better sleep.
At church yesterday, the sermon came from Psalm 1. Our pastor spoke of the planting mentioned in the psalm, of the intention required for spiritual growth, even as he emphasized our need for the abundance of God’s grace.
“It happens by grace,” he said. “But it still requires our active participation. God does the great work in us, but we get to partner with Him as we grow.”*
It’s one of the many paradoxes of this ancient faith: this interweaving of God’s work with man’s, the ways in which the Spirit works in me and through me and with me to accomplish His good will in my life.
As I work out my salvation with fear and trembling, I wrestle with what it looks like, practically, to recognize my growth in Christ as the lavish gift of grace that it is even as I strive to walk in a manner worthy of the calling I have received.
Back to sleep: I know full well that there are things we could be doing (things we could have been doing all along) that might help Miles become a better sleeper. There are books upon books upon books with tricks and solutions, some of which are genuinely sound advice.
I have friends who have tried this sleep solution or the other with great success. We’ve tried things ourselves, with the girls. They sleep through the night, now. Mostly.
I know there are habits we could be establishing with Miles. We could be active participants in helping him learn how to sleep, in helping him grow in this important life skill.
But I also know this: that every child is different; that the same tricks and tips and methods, faithfully executed, do not always yield the same results; that some babies will sleep like a dream and some like a nightmare no matter what you do.
We can – we should – help Miles to sleep better but, in the end, any rest we get is grace, all grace.
It’s an imperfect metaphor, to be sure, but maybe my need for sanctification looks something like my need for rest. Maybe there are habits I can establish, methods I can employ that will encourage growth, that will help me become more like Christ.
I can – I should – strive to be holy in my daily life but, in the end, any goodness in me is grace, all grace.
*That’s a paraphrase, taken from my sermon notes.