I have the attention span of a goldfish.
It’s annoying for all the reasons you’d imagine and some that perhaps you haven’t… my parenting, for instance, is far less effective than it could be if I could remember the instructions I give the kids past the moment those instructions leave my mouth.
Every situation, no matter how momentary, I project out to infinity. I have a stomach bug? I’m probably going to puke until I die in sixty years. Kids have a rough night? I’m never going to sleep again. My favorite is that around week 37 of every pregnancy, I end up convinced that I will literally never have this baby and I will remain miserably, hugely pregnant for all eternity. I wish I was joking, but anyone very close to me can attest to this. My husband stopped even trying to talk me down after the first pregnancy. Rounds two through four, I’d mention my irrational certainty that gestation was going to last literally forever and he’d just look at me (amused, but not so amused as to incur the wrath of the cranky pregnant lady) and say “mmhmm.” I simply can’t remember what normal is supposed to be, and assume that my current state is normal. Forever.
Also, I tend to forget lessons I’ve learned from and about Jesus. I have to focus really hard to avoid doing what James 1 talks about, where I read but don’t do, glancing in the mirror and immediately forgetting what I look like.
So it’s not any real surprise that now and again, I doubt my place. I’m reading a lot about the presence of God and the way his followers are to, well, follow Him, and suddenly, I don’t remember if that’s a thing that happens to me. Have I heard His voice? I mean, I know “my sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” But suddenly, I can’t remember hearing his voice. Does it then follow that I’m not one of his sheep?!?
This Caedmon’s Call song circa 2000 plays loudly in my head.
Sometimes I fear
Maybe I’m not chosen
You’ve hardened my heart like Pharoah
And that would explain why
Life is so hard for me…
Cast all my doubts
Please prove me wrong…
And in this moment, when I’m honestly wracking my brain for evidence of my own salvation and of the Holy Spirit’s presence in my life, when I have suddenly forgotten everything that I’ve ever learned about the promises of God and I can’t remember what the Shepherd’s voice sounds like and whether or not I’ve heard it, Lilly wakes up.
Lilly is just barely nine months old and she’s every ounce as delightful as my babies tend to be. And she’s having a hard time with sleep. She’s become reliant on me to fall asleep, and increasingly touchy about getting transferred to her bed, so we’re gently trying to point her toward self-soothing.
Today, that means when she wakes up after twenty whole minutes of napping, I give her some time to decide whether or not she really means to be awake. She’s fussing quietly and intermittently, which means she isn’t sure yet. I’m on the love seat four feet away from her door, but I wait silently.
In that moment, I again hear the Shepherd’s voice, nudging me to pay attention; there’s something important to learn…
I wonder if she feels insecure right now like I do? She can’t hear me or see me. I’m right here, even though she can’t sense me. She isn’t alone, even if she wonders. She is mine. I’m not talking to her right now because I love her and that’s what is best in this moment. When she really does need me to get her, I will say her name and she will quiet immediately and smile. Because she knows my voice and knows what it means when I call her name.
Lilly’s fussing slowed down to periodic contented chatter, then stopped. She’s asleep, still four feet away from me. I never left, and she’s calm.
I’m settled, too, and grateful for the patient reassurance of a Heavenly Father who understands my doubts.
This article originally appeared at RobinDChapman.com.