Singing Away the Darkness
Last week, Deacon turned 5 months old. As I went to jot down memories of the month for his baby book, I found that I couldn’t separate our memories of him from the unexpected changes we all experienced in the month of March. For the past three and a half weeks, my husband Matthew and I – like many of you – have been working from home. A lot of the time, this is really lovely, because it means that I’m getting to see Deacon grow. Just since our time at home has started, he has found his feet, rolled over, started showing interest in food, and so much more. I feel like I know him better than ever, and we are so close.
But at the same time… it hasn’t been all easy. Lately, Deacon has started becoming so uncontrollably upset in the afternoon that none of the normal things soothe him. This is probably all normal, but we’re in the middle of it right in the middle of quarantine, as we each try to support the partner who is working, trying to make sure they have enough quiet to do Zoom calls in another part of the house.
Today, I was heading into what I was sure would be another 3 hour chunk of fussiness. If I stood up and swayed and held Deacon upright, he would quietly suck on his hand (4 fingers at a time) and look around, just taking everything in. But the moment I went to shift positions or sit down, he’d lose it – wailing, red face, sobbing, lose it. So I decided to give up on forward progress, and backtrack to what has helped me in months past. I got out the Solly Wrap, I tucked him in the carrier nice and snug, and I started my worship playlist in my ear buds. As “Way Maker” started, I moved with it: step and sway every beat, bounce and pat every eighth note, and sing whatever words you need to desperately get through the anxiety that this baby will never be happy again. “Even when I can’t feel it, you’re working – even when I don’t see it, you’re working,” I sang in the dark nursery, praying that some measure of God’s peace would come down upon this child and help him sleep.
I’ve always been a bit of a “head over heart” kind of theologian, but these last several months of new motherhood have thrown me into the emotions of my faith in a way I haven’t felt in a long time. I can’t think my way into faith when I’m in these moments of desperation. No – in those moments, it’s earbud worship and prayer that calms my heart. In those moments, these songs aren’t just pieces of future worship services to me. They are battle cries that I hold onto in the middle of an endless cycle of uncertainty.
As I write this, Deacon is starting his second hour of napping in the Solly Wrap, as I sway in the dark nursery. I know that most of you won’t be reading this on a dimly lit cell phone in a dark nursery, as you fight to get a little boy to sleep. But no matter your stage or rhythms of life, I bet you know what it feels like to stand in the dark. These are uncertain times, times when things change as fast as a 5-month-old’s preferences, and we can’t think our way into faith any more than we can control how long the baby will nap.
We are all standing in the dark this Holy Week: the darkness of uncertainty, of worry, and sometimes of desperation. But we love, serve, and follow the light of the world, the one in whom there is no darkness.
As we live through uncontrollable darkness and anxiety, I hope you will join me in focusing on the light. Allow your heart to lean into worship, to lean into prayer. Don’t overthink it. Maybe you’ll find the glimmer of hope that you need in the simple act of turning to God – even if that looks like turning up the music, planting your feet on the carpet, and singing away the darkness.