When my infant twin sons were only weeks old, I decided I would teach them to sleep through a little bit of noise. With two babies at once, I didn’t want to have to tiptoe through the house all the time. So after they drifted off to sleep in their swings one afternoon, I promptly rolled out the vacuum cleaner and began sweeping the living room. As I rolled the vacuum back and forth underneath their rocking swings, those baby boys barely stirred. The following week, I did it again. And I continued to do it each week while patting myself on the back.
You’re nailing this part of parenting! I proudly thought to myself. Not only was I certain my babies slept through a good deal of noise because I’d taught them to, but I felt I’d succeeded in showing them who was “boss” within our family.
When our daughter came along three and a half years later, I once again employed the idea that this new infant would need to get used to a little noise. After all, she had two rowdy brothers who made no small amount of it! So on an early summer evening after she went to sleep, I fired up the vacuum cleaner.
The results? Not the same. Not the same AT ALL.
It took 1.32 seconds for my daughter’s eyes to pop open and grow as big as turkey platters. Then she started screaming like she was on fire. I quickly scooped her from the crib, acutely aware of how the roaring vacuum must’ve seemed like a mean trick from her vantage point.
As I spent those next minutes and hours patting her back to a rhythm of shh, shh, shhhh, all I could think was one thing: You, my dear, had nothing to do with your sons sleeping through the noise. That was a singular work of God’s grace, a gift that made infant twins a little bit easier.
I rolled my eyes at myself at least a dozen times before finally calming the baby down, over two hours later.
Oh, the price I paid for my pride!
Time would continue to show me in a thousand different ways that I am not to take too much credit for the good — or the bad — that happens in my life. And when it comes to difficult change, I will not take too much credit for it either.
But I sure try to do this, especially when the change brings a lot of unwanted circumstances. Whether I’m in the 3 p.m. carpool line or wide awake at 3 a.m., I can spend untold hours asking these questions:
Why didn’t I anticipate this?
Shouldn’t I have taken steps to prevent it?
What does it say about me that I didn’t see this coming?
Yes, it’s certainly true that actions have consequences and we need to care for what’s in our lane. But just because this change is here doesn’t mean it’s our fault. Perhaps it’s here because we live in a broken world. What’s more, perhaps it’s here because there’s something that needs breaking or something that’s already broken that needs to be fixed.
In the words of author Jennifer Dukes Lee, “Brokenness isn’t intended to break us. It’s intended to heal us by leading us back to the cross.”
Maybe whatever change happens in my life and yours is to heal something that’s broken. Maybe it’s here to remind us of our need for God and His power working in us and in our lives.
I am not God, and neither are you. So say it with me now: I am not in charge of this change. God is, and you and I will see how He makes a way through it for us. That isn’t some trite cliché. Scripture is full of references of God making a way through impossible circumstances for His beloveds. (Just ask the Israelites, Ruth, Esther, and Mary and Joseph to name but a few.) Like them, we can trust God’s faithful follow-through. And as we wait, we can refuse to look inward for some kind of supernatural gift or strength and instead look upward for it. We can see our brokenness for what it is — the path we take to the cross, where we’re reminded of how Jesus’ unchanging love changes everything for us.