It seems like a terrible confession to make, but the first year of having a newborn is not magical, blissful, delightful for me. It is sweet, yes, but that year is just plain hard. It is the most up-hill, exhausting climb I’ve endured in parenting. It is hard on many different levels – mentally, I struggle with feeling chronically disconnected, each day trying to fill the shadow of how I know I’m supposed to be. Going through the motions of what ‘normal’ Damaris would do and say. I try to be present, but the days remain hazy and somehow unnatural. Physically, I don’t feel…me. I can’t get comfortable in my clothes, my hair is falling out (yikes!), my skin is dull, and I have no stamina – no matter the amount of caffeine. Spiritually, I wander through a desert. Literally.
Looking back, I know the first year is blessed and full of joyful moments. I certainly don’t despise it! During the last few pregnancies, however, God has been graciously teaching me how to prepare my soul for the struggles of this desert place.
I never made the connection of my struggles with a desert, until our Pastor preached a message on Christ in the wilderness and ministered to by the angels (Matthew 4:1-11). The Holy Spirit used those words to make clear that my soul was hungry – that I thirsted and had no fill.
It is very difficult, in the pace of incredibly busy days, to find time to rest one’s soul. Especially during the newborn months (or, it seems, the whole first year), my doubts and fears springing from my unbelief can readily overwhelm me. I’m in the middle of a wilderness and I want to cry in frustration: “Can God really be trusted?” “Can He really take care of me?” “I am feeling so empty in this desert and see no reprieve!” When I am in the desert, even the memory of once being satisfied, filled, and overflowing has dried up. I am the Israelite who spat: “Can God spread a table in the wilderness?” Psalm 78:19.
So, what has been my lesson from the wilderness? When Jesus was alone, God sent the angels to minister to Him! Yes, He sees (El-Roi)! Yes, He delights in me, and will nourish my soul! When I cannot find enough minutes to read the Scriptures between nursing, diapers, and the other children – He will provide (Jehova-Jireh)! For the Israelites in the desert wondering if God could spread a table for them, the resounding answer was God giving them the “grain of heaven” and raining “meat on them like dust.” Psalm 78:23-27
Our seventh baby’s first year has just passed, and God, as always, was all-sufficient (El-Shaddai). He is changing my unbelief for rest and teaches me that He delights in my longing to be nourished. So I pray for you, if you are in the desert, that you will seek God earnestly. He will make streams overflow in your wilderness.
“They remembered that God was their rock,
the Most High God was their redeemer.”
with love, Damaris