When a Season is Like a Straitjacket

October 5, 2011

in The Good Word,The Parenthood

We are firm believers in the swaddle. Any clue what I’m talking about? I’m talking about the baby swaddle — the thing you do with a blanket, where you put it beneath a baby, put their arms down by their sides and wrap the blanket tightly around them, tucking it underneath so that it constrains them and holds them snug. At first it might seem like an unpleasant thing for the baby, constraining them with the baby version of a straitjacket, but by and by perhaps I’ll convince you that it’s a good thing.

Something you may or may not know about newborns is that when they’re fresh out of the box, so to speak, they have absolutely no control over their arms or legs. Maybe very little control, but it seems pretty much like none. They hit themselves in the head and wonder who did it. They scratch their own little faces with their sharp little baby nails, and then cry as if to say, “Who’s scratching me? Stop it!”

DSC_2543

With the Bear, and again with the Tank, we found swaddling a really effective method of sleep training. Wrapping them up tightly inside a blanket or a thin sheet (when it was summer and too hot for a blanket) became a signal to them that it was time for a snooze. A swaddle, a pacifier/dummy/binker/whateveryouliketocallit in the mouth, a snug spot in the crib and they don’t need much more direction for the route to dreamland. Apparently it also mimics the feeling of being snuggled up inside the womb, which is a bonus.

Initially, both of our boys fought the swaddle.

CSC_2572

You’d wrap them up snug and they’d wriggle and squirm and sometimes cry. The Hubs often stood by their cribs, holding each of them to his chest, firmly swaddled, and he’d gently swoosh them back and forth while they struggled against his firm grip. Eventually, it {almost} always settled them down, and once they learned that it was a cue, it became a tool for good.

DSC_2548

I believe there are seasons in our lives when God “swaddles” us. For one reason or another, His hand is holding us firmly in one place, even though we feel like we’re ready for movement, for breakthrough, for a chance to use the arms and legs we’ve been given.

You might feel swaddled:

  • By a job you’re ready to be out of, but the job hunt is getting you nowhere.
  • By your finances constraining you and hindering your movements
  • In a relationship with a roommate, a professor, a colleague at work — you’re ready for it to be done, but you’re stuck for now.
  • In a season of life that’s just hard, but not over yet.

The thing is, sometimes we’re kind of like the newborn flailing her arms because she doesn’t know any better. God in His graciousness is appointing this time and this season, as a time for growth, perhaps a time for us to rest, a time to learn to trust Him, and a time to gain strength.

Most of us know that a beautiful butterfly doesn’t start out that way. They start out as little caterpillars, not particularly exciting creatures, definitely incapable of flying. But after munching on leaves for a good wee while, their metamorphosis begins. And during the pupa, or “chrysalis” stage, growth and differentiation occur. The caterpillar is becoming a butterfly.

The hard skin that surrounds the butterfly, called a chrysalis, keeps it swaddled until this life phase is finished. Once the butterfly is ready to shed the chrysalis, she uses her wings to break through. The strength that she gains while pushing her way out with her wings is a necessary part of the process. Once she’s out, she’ll sit on her old shell, harden her wings and get ready for take off!

Without the chrysalis stage, the butterfly will only ever be a caterpillar. But if she allows the process to do its good work, she will emerge on the other side, strong enough to fly.

If you’re in a season that feels like a straitjacket, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to sit still. You are a part of the process that will grow you and help you become who you are meant to be. When the caterpillar is fully grown, it makes a button of silk to attach itself to a leaf or a twig, and then it sheds its skin to reveal that chrysalis layer — the hardened skin underneath. Some butterflies are able to move their abdomen while inside their chrysalis to make sounds or scare away potential predators.

Isaiah 30:18 says:

Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him.

Trust the God who created the seasons as a part of life — the God who is also sovereign over them. Though it seems like He is waiting, He is being gracious. Though it seems like He isn’t listening, He is showing mercy. Like a year of work at a pawn shop, or a week of extra waiting for a baby’s arrival, the Author and Finisher of your faith has blessings in store for those who wait on Him. And in the waiting, you’ll gain the strength you need for the road ahead.

xCC

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Comment with Facebook

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: