Before Ian was born, I was so unaware of many of parenting’s realities. I didn’t know that I’d give up on leaving the house in clean clothes or that vomit is worse to clean up than poop. I didn’t know that I’d hate nothing more than the little songs Fisher-Price toys sing, but that I’d find myself humming the tunes while washing dishes. I also didn’t realize that newborns have different cries.
Leo is no different: he cries a certain way when hungry or tired of sitting in a dirty diaper, but he cries differently when sleepy or scared. My favorite is his little squeal when I walk into his field of vision and he wants me to pick him up. (I sound like such a mom right now, claiming to have a favorite cry?!)
This doesnt always work perfectly. Sometimes, he cries and cries, louder and louder until just wailing, and for the life of me, I can’t figure out what he wants. While trying to soothe Leo, I go through a mental checklist: diaper, fed, warm, sitting, standing, bouncing, swinging, pacifier, blanket, upright, reclined. Sometimes, I never discover the precise combination to quell his frustration or ease his sadness.
Still, I find such joy in the idea that I could grow to know my boys so well that the sound of their cries told me what they needed. Isn’t that a beautiful sort of intimacy?
How much more so, then, does God stand at the ready, in tune to our cues, eager to respond? And He never tires, never throws up His hands in exasperation when my cries don’t cease. He never paces the room anxiously, muttering, “What is it, little one?”
I wonder what my own cries indicate to His wise and listening ears. My perfectionism masking a fear of failure. My pride a grasping for control. My dishonesty an attempt to please and protect my reputation. My hustle an attempt to build an identity.
He always knows, and what’s more, the needs have already been met. Jesus is the salve, the nourishment, the cleansing, the comfort. The need was met before it was ever expressed. I don’t always know how, but it’s a promise I can count on.
I wonder if Cain and Able would have cried if their parents never left the garden. Before sin and separation, did they ned to communicate their needs in some desperate way? Or was Eve so perfectly in tune with her babies, the way Jesus is in tune with me?
This whole idea changes the way I view my own neediness, the holes and discontent I sometimes feel.
I want Ian and Leo to know they can trust me. When Ian has a meltdown, I tell him everything is ok, that I will give him what he needs or wants, just maybe not at that moment. When he’s afraid we’re leaving him, we assure him, “Mom an dad will be right back.” When he’s afraid to climb the playground ladder or go join the other kids at storytime, I remind him, “Be brave. You are safe. I’m right here.”
A newborn’s needs are so simple: he needs a clean diaper, a full tummy, good sleep (though not necessarily at night). Everything only grows more complicated as we grow, but God’s ability and desire to meet our needs never wanes nor wavers.
Jesus gives me so many reminders that my needs are met: the surprise gift in the mail, the just-right song that pops up on shuffle, the encouraging text from a friend, the encouraging Sunday service. Each is a sign that I am known and loved by an attentive and trustworthy Father.
Be brave. You are safe. You have what you need. I’m right here.