Somewhere around 8 p.m. on Day five on the Nate-Fisher’s-Life-Outside-the-Womb timeline, Josh and I finally had three out of four kids in bed and were desperate to head there ourselves.
With brains mushy from exhaustion, synapses firing significantly slower than advisable for two persons in charge of the welfare of children, and my emotional stability hovering somewhere around “Hattie” level, we were just a ton of fun, as you can imagine.
Josh fiddled with Nate, attempting to get the little stinker to agree with us on a bedtime, and I helped by staring blankly at the wall. It was the best I could do. I think we both knew—and were dreading—what was most likely coming from me: a large quantity of tears followed by Josh pretending to understand why I’m weeping again.
This time, however, I held it together and said the only thing I could think.
“Could this get any harder?”
If he did answer, I don’t remember what he said.
It didn’t matter.
The answer was, of course, ‘yes.’
I remember only having one.
I wish I could zip back in time and assure poor Hannah-with-Only-One-Child that she could relax a little. Edy would survive. And she should enjoy this time. Life was easy, peasy, lemon squeezy. (But it wouldn’t have done any good. Hannah-with-Only-One-Child would not have believed me.)
Then there were two.
(I heard a girl with two kids refer to her life as “chaos” the other day. I chuckled a bit.)
I don’t remember the transition to three. It just happened, and we are still alive. That’s all I know.
And now I realize that when I act like four is so big and so hard, there are plenty of you out there who want to tell me to suck it up. Quit whining and deal with it ‘cause you betcha it could get harder, Miss-Hannah-with-Healthy-Kids-and-a-Comfortable-Lifestyle-in-Safe-Middle-Class-America. (And you might also want to tell me that I overuse dashes and parentheses, as well.)
And you would be right. About all of it.
But this is what tiredness does to you. You lose your ability to see reality. Your thoughts become irrational. Self-pity starts to feel good. Actually feeling good doesn’t feel possible.
And people tell you to rest. All the time.
“You look tired. You should get some rest.”
This is like telling a drowning person they should swim.
Good advice, yes, but darn near impossible.
I snuck out of church the other morning and hid in Josh’s office. (He doesn’t know this.) As marvelous as every woman in the Sunday School class I left is, I couldn’t be real with them that day. (They don’t know this either.)
But I wanted to hide, and I did. I considered curling up on the couch across from his desk and taking a nap, but I didn’t.
God led me to his Word instead.
I read Psalm 91:1, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
Of course, the promise of “rest” caught my attention, but this is not a napping kind of rest referred to here. This is rest of the God-variety.
And there is a huge difference.
Being up at night is part of the gig when you have a newborn. God’s not going to change that. It’s the way he’s designed babies, and I knew this going in. Praying for more sleep is almost silly.
That’s why I know the “rest” being referenced in Psalms is not at all about sleep.
It’s about those medical bills that just keep on rolling in.
It’s about the anxiousness I feel that “what if I’m not doing this right?”
It’s about uncertainty about the other three kids and whether or not I’m completely ruining their lives because I don’t have time to color at this very moment and how will they know I love them too?
This rest is about how I can hand over all of this to God and breathe in quiet, peaceful confidence.
Because rest—true rest—is nothing about getting sleep but all about knowing God.
When we know the character of the God we serve, we can rest in the truth that there is good in all these moments. Even the hard, exhausting, no-sleep kind of moments.
No, I won’t be able to color with Edy every time she asks, but God, in his goodness, can use those disappointments to teach her selflessness.
No, I won’t always handle Hattie’s emotions or Christian’s energy with the patience I would like too, but God, who loves to forgive, can use those failures to teach them about how Mommy is not perfect, but Christ is.
No, those bills aren’t going away, but God, in his all-sufficiency, can use them to teach me to release my desire for control and trust in his desire to provide.
Yes, this life definitely could get harder, but God’s promise for rest does not change because God does not change.
He is always good, always forgiving, always sufficient.
So know him, friends.
Turn to his Word.
Spend time with him in conversation.
Dwell in his shelter.
And rest in his beautiful character.
You’ll be glad you did.