The baby is 7 months old. We're at that stage where she's learning to roll over, figuring out the word "up" means to lift her arms so I can pick her up, babbling all day long. She looks when I call her name. Loves to be read to. Giggles when she sees herself in the mirror.
And that all important Tummy Time.
She hates Tummy Time.
This is a happy child.
Her grandparents have said they have never seen a happier baby in their lives.
But they don't know about Tummy Time.
This girl can go from happy, giggley baby to a sobbing fit in 2 seconds flat when Tummy Time is involved. Flip her over to her tummy, and she dissolves into tears.
Mind you, there's nothing wrong with her tummy. Nothing wrong with her back. She just prefers to lay on her back or sit up where she can see everything going on. Being on her tummy limits her vision. Her nosiness. She likes to know what's going on all the time. And right now.
But Tummy Time is important. Studies show that babies who have more tummy time develop better fine motor skills. And since I want her to excel, back on her tummy she goes.
We try to make it go faster. I sing, I read her stories, we play musical instruments, I roll around in front of her and show her how much F!U!N! it is to be on your tummy.
She's improved. Six months ago she couldn't take tummy time for more than a minute. Nowadays she can last for 20. I'll take that.
This morning the baby started to whimper and push her lip out after 5 minutes. "Come on!" I said. "You can do it!" Happy face. Big, happy face. "You are strong and confident! You're a big girl! You can do this!"
Pout. The tears started.
I still pushed. Sang The Wheels on the Bus. Meanwhile, she started the tears. She wouldn't understand if I tried to explain about how this time she hates is developing her muscles. How its going to make her stronger, how I'm going to only have her do this for a certain amount of time and then there will be an end to it. How she NEEDS this.
All she knows is that she's miserable, it's lasting forever, and it hurts.
Then came the CRY. The I've-really-had-enough-now-I-MEAN-it! cry.
My heart melted and I stopped cheering for her, and picked her up. "I don't want to torture you, baby. I just want to stretch you and let you see that you're stronger than you think you are."
I picked her up and comforted her. Gave her lots of kisses, rewarded her with lots of praises. Such a big girl! Look how good you did! Look how long you lasted! That was so hard wasn't it? But you did it! Then we went to play with some of her special toys that she especially loves as a reward.
That's when it hit me: this is what God does.
Times of trial. They always come. Some of them longer than others. And we cry. It hurts. We don't know why it's happening, quite often. We want it to stop, but often it doesn't.
But if God tried to explain to us what he was doing, would we understand? Are his words too lofty for me to understand, just as my adult words are too hard for a 7 month old to understand? I could try to explain to the baby all I wanted, but all she would hear would be hblah aiouan ahikhj abjkah blah.
Wouldn't it be the same?
But maybe God has a plan in our pain. Maybe he is stretching us too. Allowing us to go through our own Tummy Times to stretch our muscles, stretch our faith, because he has a bigger purpose. He doesn't want to torture us, he just wants us to grow, and find out that we are stronger than we think we are. Then when our time of trial is over--at the time he plans for it to be over-- he will reward us. Just as I rewarded the baby with comfort and praise and special toys, the Lord will also rewards us for completing our trial. For standing strong. For completing the hard work he had us do.
I have the baby do Tummy Time because I know its good for her. If I just let her lay around on her back all the time, she'd stay there all her life. Never learn to sit up. Never learn to stand up. Never come up higher. Never see what the whole world has to offer.
Neither would we.
Right now, I'm in my own Tummy Time. Its something that I don't like. Been going through for a long time, in fact. But I too have felt my own muscles growing strong. My faith muscles. My strength in the Lord.
What about you? Are you in your own Tummy Time? How are your muscles doing?