I was recently given a gift. Initially it was a gift I wasn’t sure I really wanted. Dare I say that my heart actually rebelled against it? It made it even worse to think I had no other option but to accept it. Especially given that I didn’t think it was necessary to begin with! Or was it? Before I tell you what the gift was, allow me to provide the context of its offering.
My husband had been dealing with the effects of an intensely uncomfortable, debilitatingly painful, and worst of all, sleep-deprivingly annoying pinched nerve in his neck. Neither one of us had had a good night’s sleep for a couple of months. And while I’d been doing my best to support and encourage him, my perspective on life was waning.
In the midst of my husband’s issues we got a call from our oldest daughter, nine months pregnant with her third baby. She informed us that she was heading to her local hospital due to some concerns with swelling, headache, heart palpitations, low pulse, and high blood pressure. Within hours she was sent to a better equipped hospital where her labour was eventually induced with an emergency cardiac team on stand-by.
Even in my weary state, it was all I could do to not hop on a plane to be with her, to support her and care for her and her family. Forget the heart monitor—this mama’s heart didn’t need one to hear the cry of her heart over the miles—too many miles. Already I could feel the helplessness rising up in me.
I was brought back to the time when she herself was a baby. Night after night, multiple times I would awake to her crying and run to her rescue. Rocking her, feeding her, changing her—whatever it took to soothe her. My husband and I were running out of tactics. Finally we decided to try and let her cry herself to sleep.
That night, as I lay in my bed listening to her sobs turn into angry growls, it was all I could do to keep myself in bed. My husband pretty much physically restrained me on this particularly unrelenting night. “This was the agreement” he reminded me. “It’s for all our good” he told me. For hours the battle raged on until I finally fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion and awoke to a startling silence a while later. Had she finally relented? Had she yielded to our plan? Unable to hold myself back any longer I quietly crept into her room to discover she had fallen asleep—slumped over the edge of the crib side rail! Sleep deprivation was no longer my concern. Now the real battle ensued. I felt like a bad mommy. How could anyone let their child cry themselves to sleep? Much less standing up? Should I move her and run the risk of waking her and begin the entire battle again?
While I’m happy to report that my daughter now sleeps through the night (that is; when her own children allow for it), in the present situation I was facing, I found myself in the same dilemma—battling the same feelings as I did thirty years earlier. Only now it was me who had to self-soothe. I desperately sought out every logical reason to convince myself why it was important to stay-put. “She’s in good hands” I said to myself. “She has a husband and his family supporting her, along with an entire community and network of friends” I reminded myself. And while somewhere deep within my heart I was assured that she’d be alright, the battle raged on. I resented the distance between us. I resented circumstances that put us in this position to begin with. I resented the restraint. Everything inside me rose up to defend my cause. Justification arose with it. What or who was it that was stopping me anyway? Besides, my husband was going away for a few days and I was going to have time to myself–with time on my hands.
Did I mention, time? And did I happen to mention that, while I had yet to recognize it, time was the gift? Could it be that I was actually the one needing some care and attention? Could it be that it wasn’t any circumstance or person restraining me but the Caretaker of my heart, Himself? Was I just being too resentful and stubborn and unyielding to accept the gift He was offering me? If so, how much of this gift of time had I wasted and how much energy expended fighting against it?
It wasn’t until I laid down my own strong will and yielded to His that I saw it for what it was—a true gift. Time to myself. Time to recalibrate. Time to re-focus. Time to refresh my spirit. Time to restore my soul. Time to rest my body. Time to sleep. Time to simply care for myself. The outcome?—Renewed energy, restored hope, refreshed attitude, and readiness to re-enter with a renewed perspective.
In retrospect, it was with this renewed perspective when it occurred to me. Had I run to my daughter’s rescue in the state I was in, it may have turned into a suicide mission rather than a help to her and her family. I would have been functioning from a place of exhaustion, frustration, and angst rather than from a place of rest.
There are many times when my Heavenly Father could quickly run to my aid. Prevent my pain. Stop my crying with a soothing word. He’s not one to restrain us with unjust cause. The truth is He’s not one to withhold anything we need. In fact, the opposite is true. He refrains because He knows best. It’s not because He doesn’t care or love us. It’s because He does. He always knows just what we need—whether or not we know we need it. Sometimes time is all He needs to impart us with His grace, His righteousness, His wisdom, and His undeniable love. We simply need to yield to Him before we can fully receive it as a gift.
“Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! (Isaiah 30:18).”
Lisa Elliott is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of The Ben Ripple and Dancing in the Rain. Additionally, she has written articles for Just Between Us Magazine and devotionals for theStory. She and her pastor-husband, David, have four children (3 on earth, 1 in heaven) and serve the Lord together in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
To book Lisa for a weekend retreat or day conference contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org