This time away from work for a few months has been a gift, and it’s swiftly coming to an end. I’m simultaneously itching to get back to the daily work of leading our new little church, and I'm beginning to mourn the end of this season with my new little son. It’s such a sweet thing to be consistently present for these ever-changing moments with my littlest little one (not to mention my 3-year-old).
And, at the same time, there’s something about these early days of life with a new baby that are uniquely capable of making me feel incredibly self-conscious. Many words have been written about the culture of “mommy shaming” around the internet, and I’m not immune to that - although I think the bigger hurdle for me is the constant uncertainty. Caring for the every need of a little mini person is daunting when that little person has limited ability to tell you what his needs actually are. Sometimes parenthood feels like a constant experiment. Is he hungry? Wet? Tired? All of the above? Well, you don't know until you try! Plus, in these earliest days there is little to no routine or schedule or predictability. Just when I think my baby is settling into his own little routine, he changes it up on me. Suddenly the time of day when he had slept soundly in his own bed for three hours every day for the last three weeks becomes the time when he’s sobbing uncontrollably for no apparent reason. And I have a fairly easy baby on my hands; we have no health problems, no allergies that we know of, no major issues. Just regular, tiny baby things. I can only imagine how parents with babies with reflux or food allergies or heart problems or major developmental difficulties must feel.
And, the fact is, these feelings aren't just confined to parenthood. Because my pregnancy and church planting happened concurrently, it's not difficult for me to see the corollaries between the two. There's something simultaneously sweet and terrifying about midwifing a new community of faith into being, and there's so much uncertainty. In the beginning, everything is an experiment. Everything you try could either be a raving success or a devastating failure. Will this time work for our worship gathering? Will this person connect with this event? Will this neighbourhood initiative become the driving force of our church, or a one-time failed attempt at connection? You never know until you try. And so, again, it's so easy to feel like you're not enough in these early days of tending to a brand new baby church.
Enter: nap time.
Now, I love a good nap as much as the next girl, but that's not what I mean here. Lately, nap time has become my moment to connect with God. As I rock my baby to sleep, I’ve been reading to him from either The Jesus Storybook Bible or Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing - both of which were written by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Jago. This has become an incredibly meaningful time for me, not only because the first books I’m reading through completely with my Son are thoughts and stories from Scripture, but also because I’ve been hearing God’s voice through these simple words for children.
What has God been saying? He’s been saying that, even if I may doubt myself or my abilities, whether in church planting or in being a mother or in my relationships with people around me - I am enough. I am enough not because of what I can do or how great I am; I am enough because God is enough. It's God's work, and He is at the helm - and He can do anything. I am enough because it is this lovingly powerful God who is work in and through and around me. Always.
One particular essay from Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing spoke deeply to me the other day. Maybe it was seeing the words paired with this picture, mirroring the exact thing I was doing with my own child. But as I read this to my little boy, tears welled up in my eyes, and joy and hope welled up in my heart. Here they are for you (taken from Thoughts to Make your Heart Sing, page 76-77):
RESTING AND RELYING
When you were little, did someone big ever carry you? Did you rest your head on his shoulder, lean your whole weight on him?
Faith is leaning your whole weight on God. Resting your head on his shoulder.
Faith means resting - relying - not on who we are, or what we can do, or how we feel, or what we know.
Faith is resting in who God is and what he has done.
And he has done EVERYTHING.
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.”
1 John 4:16 (NIV)