patrick and i are big fans of sleep training. (not mean or harsh sleep training, but wise and kind sleep training - giving our kids the confidence and security to sleep well alone.) sam is an amazing sleeper, and usually wakes up happy and ready to greet the day with a big smile. vava is already in a pretty amazing routine, and sleeps longer at night than sam did at her age.
the premise of sleep training is to build into your kids a sense of security when you're not present. so when sam was a tiny baby, we would sing and snuggle and pray, then put him into his crib and kiss him goodnight and leave him alone, awake, to fall asleep. if and when he cried, we didn't respond to his first cry - which sounds horrible, right? what kind of parents were we?
but we had a bigger and more joyful lesson in mind.
and i found that exact same lesson today in the book of john. turns out, Jesus was a sleep trainer too. weird, i know, but let me explain.
two of Jesus' friends sent him a message, because their brother was sick. they knew Jesus could heal him - he'd been healing people all over the place! but then he didn't come ... and the scripture says:
'Jesus loved martha and her sister [mary] and lazarus. so, when he heard that lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.' (john 11:5-6)
that little word so caught my attention. i had expected it to be but.
he stayed where he was because he loved them.
even when it meant lazarus would die? how come?
the answer was in verse 4. '... Jesus said, 'this illness does not lead to death. it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.'
because he loved them, he was going to reveal his glory through and to them. so he didn't come running at their call, because he had more in mind.
(what, exactly? raising lazarus from the tomb. death torn apart by life. revealing his glory in the most spectacular way ever. bringing joy rushing into their hearts, showing just how powerful he was - even over death. worth it? so worth it.)
it's the same with sleep training - we want sam and vava to be completely secure in our love, to trust that we are taking care of them even when we're not physically in their sight. so we give them a little practice - they cry out for us, and don't see us right away. but everything is okay, and after a little bit, we come in and kiss them and snuggle them and put them back down. and they learn - we are there, we are watching out for them, and even when they don't see us, we're close and everything is okay. we don't just want them to fall asleep (although of course we want that too) - we want them to learn the bigger rest-of-their-life lesson that we're here for them and are acting in their best interest whether they can see us or not.
i went to elementary school with a kid who hadn't yet learned that lesson. every single morning, his mom would bring him right to his desk in our primary classroom, and he would kick and sob and wail. he clung to her as long as he could, and some days she even stayed for a while, kneeling beside his desk, strangling under the tight arms of his insecurity while the teacher went through the lesson. but no matter how long she stayed, he lost control when she left. it was awful.
sometimes, i think i'm that kid.
as soon as i don't see exactly what God is doing in my life, i start to freak out. 'what's going on?' i cry. 'where are you? augh!' like mary and martha, who didn't understand Jesus' delay. 'if you had been here,' they told him, 'Lazarus wouldn't have died.' the implication? their security depended on his physical presence. he needed to be there.
he gently reminds them that his care and presence transcend the physical by pointing them to his Father. he lifts his face to heaven and prays to God. 'Father, i thank you that you have heard me. i knew that you always hear me, but i said this on account of the people standing around ...' (verses 41-42).
he hears. he hears! he always hears.
same with sam. we've got the monitor on in his room, and when he cries, we hear. and we're bent on providing for him everything that he needs. it's just that sometimes, the thing that he needs is the unanswered cry, so we can bless him more.
because he loves me, sometimes Jesus stays out of sight. he doesn't give me what i ask for. he waits.
he's teaching me a bigger lesson.
he hears. he's got this. and i can rest in his love, even when i don't see him.