TITLE: The Bottle
By Connie K Cameron
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I found out that my husband, Mark, was very sick and we wouldn’t be able to do the work that we had been doing. Within a week of getting that information, I found out that I was going to have another baby. I wasn’t handling the news very well. I did a lot of complaining about my circumstances, and I did a lot of crying. During a prayer, I confessed that I didn’t understand what God was doing. Romans 8: 28 says, “And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” I knew that scripture in my head, but my heart was screaming out, “I can’t take it anymore!” With all of the problems that we were having, I could not see any good coming out of it. I felt as if God had abandoned me. Maybe He just stopped loving me. I know that God is more powerful than Satan, so if He still loved me, why was He letting me go through all of this? Why didn’t He just give me what I needed and keep me from going through all these hard things? My constant prayers were more like temper tantrums. I thank God for His faithfulness, He answered all my questions.
When my son, Elijah, was a new born, he would wake up, hungry, many times during the night. I would feed him and he would go back to sleep. He was now over a year old and still waking up for a middle of the night, bottle. Mark and I decided that Elijah was to old to be getting a bottle in the middle of the night, so we were trying to get him out of the habit. For the next four weeks, when Elijah would wake up and whimper for his bottle, we would hold off giving it to him. Some of the nights he would whimper and go back to sleep and some of the nights he wouldn’t. The nights that he didn’t go right back to sleep, instead of giving him the bottle, we would give him his favorite stuffed animal, and that would be enough to pacify him, he would go back to sleep. Some of the nights, nothing but a bottle would get him to go back to sleep. This process was difficult, but it was working. Mark and I were happy at how well Elijah was doing.
One night Elijah woke up screaming, instead of his usual whimpering. I gave him his bottle. He laid down and drank a little, then he stood up in his crib, screaming again. Mark picked him up and tried comforting him, but the crying kept up. I thought maybe he had a bad dream, he had done this a few times before. Those times, I found that, after making sure nothing else was wrong, the best thing was to just let him cry. I knew he would cry for a few minutes, then go back to sleep.
When my oldest daughter, Christina, was a baby, after she had been sleeping through the night for some time, she started waking up in the middle of the night. I would get her out of bed and hold her, until she was quiet and looked sleepy, then I would put her back in her bed. The first few nights she went right back to sleep, but each night it got harder and harder for her to get back to sleep. I didn’t want her to cry, I didn’t like to see her uncomfortable. But by getting her up every night I was helping her to form a bad habit, that wasn’t doing either of us any good. The night that I realized I had to get tough, was the night I was laying on her floor, half asleep watching her play. She had been wide awake for an hour. It had progressed to this point over about a month.
The night that Mark and I were up with Elijah, I remembered what had happened with Christina. I felt that if we comforted Elijah, until he was ready to go back to sleep, we might end up with the same situation. Mark and I kissed Elijah, we told him that we loved him, we put him back in his crib and we let him cry. He stood crying for a while. Not picking him up was a hard thing to do, but he did finally lay down and go back to sleep. 2:30 in the morning, he was awake and crying again. It was in that second, that I got the message, that I believe God had for me.
When my baby cries, the first thing I do is make sure that he is okay. When I am sure he’s okay, the second thing I do is decide what is going to be the most important in the long run. Sometimes as parents, we have to let our children be uncomfortable, if it’s for that child’s own good.
Christina got into the habit of being awake every night for a half hour to an hour. It wasn’t good for her. Elijah was used to falling asleep with a bottle. When he was a baby, that was okay, but as he got older, that wasn’t a good thing. And if we would have kept him up, comforting him, we might have helped him substitute the bottle habit, for a habit like Christina’s. That wouldn’t have been healthy for any of us. I hate to see my children cry, but there are times when it is more important to stand back and let them be uncomfortable.
Christiana was too young to understand why I didn’t pick her up, in the middle of the night. She cried every night for a week, and I laid there, awake, listening to her and hating every minute of it. But after that week, she could sleep through the night. Elijah was too young to understand why he couldn’t have a bottle in the middle of the night. He couldn’t understand that we didn’t want him to depend on that bottle to get to sleep. That was also hard, but now he sleeps without a bottle.
We all have to grow. What is good for a new born is not good for an older child. And letting my child be uncomfortable in a circumstance doesn’t mean that I don’t love that child. What it does mean, is that I care so much for that child that I am willing to let him or her, go through some hard things so that they can become a healthy child and grow into a healthy adult.
God knows what is best for me and my growth. What I see is that I am uncomfortable. I want things my way and I don’t understand why I can’t have them that way. James 1:2-4 tells us to, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish it’s work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
There is a peace in knowing that God is my loving Father, and that He wants me to grow into a healthy adult, mature and complete.
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