I am a new parent (to twins, nonetheless), and the people most acutely aware of the struggles, hopes, and aspirations that entail are my ad algorithms. I have never felt as deeply seen by targeted advertisements as I have in the past 8 weeks. My feed is just blissful, calm babies and testimonies like “My baby slept 8 hours the first night we used this!” and “Within a week, our baby could put themselves to sleep and stay asleep!”
One of the advertisements I see the most regularly is for a “smart bassinet,” which rocks or vibrates responsively to your baby’s movement. They are considered the holy grail of getting your newborn to sleep, are immensely popular… and run you about $1,700.
$1,700. For a glorified basket with a motor attached which your child will outgrow within a maximum of 6 months, but typically 2 or 3. And I seriously looked at getting one. Because I was desperate to believe that I could shortcut the time-honored passage of going months without sleeping. I was seduced by the promise that I could buy my way out of the most well-known struggle of early parenthood.
But all of the experts I consulted, books I read, and online courses I took, unfortunately, said the same thing: buy fancy products if you want, but none of it will make much difference. Your baby will start sleeping better on their own at 8-12 weeks at the earliest and more like 17 weeks on average.
The knowledge was, in the same breath, comforting and devastating. Comforting because our babies were not behind, we were not failing, and babies really will learn to sleep on their own with time. Devastating because there was not much of anything I could do to speed up that process.
As simple and tragic as it seemed, I just had to give it time.
When we try to build communities, foster relationships, and change habits, it can be tempting to look for shortcuts. It’sIt’s easy to be drawn into seemingly simple solutions that promise to replace the fortifying, healing, steady work of time. But the $1,700 bassinet won’t do nearly as much as just waiting a few weeks will, and spending all of our energy looking for ways to skip the slow, hard parts blinds us to what God might be doing in those slow, hard parts.
Where in our organizations and lives do we need to accept that sometimes the change we want just takes time? Where are we trying to shortcut God’s timing and being seduced by the promise that we can alter the often sluggish pace of progress?
The centuries between the prophecies of Isaiah and the new testament have occasionally been discussed as a period of God’s absence. Modern scholars are quick to point out that that period was essential in establishing the character and identity of God’s people, allowing for the rich study of the scriptures, the development of practices, and more. Even as the Israelites desperately wished for a Messiah, searched and prayed for one, God opted instead to give them more time than they likely ever imagined.
During my late nights (and early mornings and long afternoons) trying to figure out how to soothe two babies at once, it is tempting to wish away the time, to try to fast forward to an age where this won’t be how I spend my hours. But I wonder if there’s something God is teaching in the nights as they are now. Something about vulnerability, patience, and unconditional love that I could miss if I try to skip this part.
As you start new organizations, build new relationships, and engage with a new year, be prepared for the slow, hard part. Be prepared to have days and months where you wish you could just skip ahead to when you are established in your processes, when you can see the fruits of your labor when everything isn’t so painfully new. And when those feelings come, try to remind yourself to embrace the learnings of the long game, the slow and steady progress, and spot God’s presence there.
God’s timing is mysterious, unpredictable, endlessly frustrating, and full of unimaginable grace. As we slog away in the name of gradual progress, may we see how the spirit is at work in this not-yet and be grateful that God gave us the gift of even more time than we wanted. As people keep telling me, it will get better soon, so soak it up while it lasts.