It’s hitting me… the 2 1/2 weeks of sleeping only 2-4 hours a night… well, really, it’s been more than 2 1/2 weeks of lacking sleep, because it is not like you are sleeping well at 39 weeks or 38 weeks or 37 weeks pregnant. This exhaustion is added to a very challenging several weeks of nursing through pain and blood and tears. Of course taking in the newness of life is sweet and precious, but there is so much hard in it… tending to this new little one.
And then add to this, this is not my first but my fourth child, so there are still three other beings to attend to. Pick ups and drop offs and so many activities to work around a baby that needs to eat when she needs to eat and doesn’t really care about my schedule or that her siblings need to be picked up from the bus at a certain time.
And add to this, a husband whose work is out-of-control crazy right now, so he worked Friday night from 9pm to 2 am… he went to bed as I was getting up to feed our little one. And then he worked Saturday morning for 4 hours and Sunday afternoon for another 3 hours. And it is not his fault, I know. He has deadlines and cut overs for websites to do that were scheduled well in advance, but it doesn’t make it easier, the sense that I am in this alone or at least having to manage much of the challenge of a newborn and three other kids by myself right now. No paternity leave relief for this Momma of four right now.
All this, lands me this morning feeling exhausted and isolated and a little forgotten and pretty weepy at the state of my existence right now. Yeah and postpartum hormones are not helping here. So in the quiet space that could disappear at any moment when my sweet girl wakes, I desperately seek God… something from His Word to sustain me. The lectionary guides me to Luke 3:1-14 where this wild man John is “the voice crying out in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord…'” And I follow that rabbit trail of a quotation to Isaiah 40 and begin reading… until I read this…
He will tend his flock like a shepherd
he will gather the lambs in his arms;
he will carry them close to his heart,
He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.
Isaiah 40:11 ESV & NLT
It’s funny the roundabout way God will lead you to the words you so desperately need to hear. In a moment of feeling alone and forgotten, God, He reminds me that he sees me.
He is the God who sees the Momma.
He is the God who notices those of us who spend our days and our nights tending to the smallest and the least, the ones who care for and pour out life and milk and energy and sleep for the little lambs who require so much care and attention from us. And yet the very act of providing such care leaves us in a place of feeling isolated and not noticed by most others. Because the job of being a Momma, well, it can leave you feeling in a very diminished, isolated, small place.
This God, who is our Shepherd, He not only cares for the littles, He cares for the Mommas who care for the littles.
Because this is a glorious but a HARD job, one that reaps so many hidden benefits but doesn’t receive the thanks and notice of the spotlight out there in the world.
But this morning, God reminds me, that’s okay that no one else really notices me, because, God, He sees me, this Momma who has been up at night to nurse her little lamb and has been holding her little one during the day through crying and gas and the need to simply be close to me, and I feel like I can’t get anything else significant done in the day. It leaves me feeling exhausted and worn down and small.
But our God, He not only sees us, the Mommas who are tired and weary and feeling small, but He gently leads…
This word “gently lead”, nahal in the Hebrew, it is the same word used in Psalm 23, the Psalm many of us know by heart…
The Lord is my Shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
This word “gently lead”, nahal, it means in a more full sense “to lead, guide to a watering-place or station and cause to rest there, to bring to a place of rest; to refresh.”
This Momma who is tired and weary and feeling forgotten, she needs someone to notice her and restore her… she is in desperate need of rest and refreshment.
And in this moment of feeling so desperate, God, he says: I am here! I see you! I will give you what you need! I will be your refreshment and your rest! I will restore what this existence in life of caring for the littles is taking from you. I will gently lead you, the Momma, caring for your young.
How amazing is that?! That the God of All Things would put this in His Word… words spoken to us Mommas?!
So even as I carry my little lamb close to my heart, God, He speaks to me the truth that I am being held close to His heart, that He is gently leading me, in this place of pouring myself out for a little one, to a place where I will be poured into… where I will be refreshed and restored.
Because, God, He sees the Momma, when no one else sees them. He is the God who notices and gently leads those of us that are with young to a place of rest.