The last few weeks I have felt like I couldn't handle much more of the sleepless nights and clingy days with Benjamin. I felt it was very soon going to come to a head, and that, regarding the situation, "either thou, or I, or both must go with him!" (Shakespeare)
The last two weeks I have spent scanning sleep books, and consulting with a friend who is a sleep doula, specializing in infants. I gathered all the information I possibly could, and yet still felt as though I had not found a solution that would work.
Much of my scripture study of late has been very personal, much more so than ever in the past. Yesterday, after reading the assigned reading of a study I'm participating in, I was brought to the humble position of prayer and pled "Father, I know you can make him sleep. I am at the end of my ability and understanding. If you will, make him sleep."
I believed in all my heart that God could answer this request. But then Benjamin napped only 45 minutes yesterday, woke 4 times between midnight and 6am last night, and skipped his morning catnap altogether today. So coming to my time for study again today, I sought out more answers. And I found it.
One of my favourite passages is in the book of Mosiah, in the Book of Mormon. In chapter 24, it is written about a people held in bondage, slaves to ruthless leaders and his country. "So great were their afflictions that they began to cry mightily to God." So great are my afflictions with Benjamin that my prayers, too, were mighty. Then the word of the Lord comes to them through the prophet Alma: "Lift up your heads and be of good comfort...I will covenant with my people and delivery them out of bondage. And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage."
There are so many promises in this short passage. I learn that God will deliver the people, but that it won't happen right away. In the meantime, he makes the burden lighter to bear and gives them strength to endure. Sometimes he delivers you right away, sometimes he gives you the ability to bear the trial and come out stronger on the other side. It has partially to do with God's will, but even more to do with the grand plan of life. Sometimes I will learn and benefit from deliverance; sometimes I will learn and grow from endurance. Every time God is doing a specific work in my life and his plan is always the best plan.
Although I love the profound nature of the above verse, it is not knew to me. I was flipping through my scriptures looking for it, because I draw personal strength from re-reading it during hard times. But I was taught something new today, in the verse following it:
"The Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord."
This verse first just reminded me that God has given me a strength to manage each day in the sleep-deprived condition I am in. He has blessed me with patience, peace and cheerfulness during a time when I would normally be short-tempered, easily frustrated and quick to anger. It reminded me to do my best to submit cheerfully on my own, and to wait until the time of deliverance.
But my thoughts didn't stop there; no, the path of thought went on a little further. I was pushed in my mind to consider just what the will of God might be in this situation? In my prayer yesterday, I was sure that there could not be any benefit of enduring sleepless nights. Surely this wasn't a trial to give me experience, because there really isn't any benefit to me at all. Then something I mentioned to James last week came back to me. In my effort to convince him not to let Benjamin cry-it-out all night, I off-handedly made the remark that Benjamin is crying and clingy because he is so close to me. In a world where children so easily and quickly run away from their parents and the safety of their home, I told James I would gladly trade these sleepless nights and days carrying a heavy toddler if it meant Benjamin would build a confidence in me that would translate to trust and keeping near to home in the teenage years.
Aha. There it was, plain as day. I had my answer. The will of the Lord is that I must endure this difficult stage, because while I can foster independence when he is a little older, these months will be passed in creating a close-knit bond between mother and son that just might get him through tough times in years to come. And if that is the trade-off, then I will "submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord."
The added benefit of finally receiving this revelation is that I will not trouble and stress myself out trying desperately to "fix" the problem. I know God's will and I know it is in his hands, and I can find peace in this area of my life.