When my kiddos were newborns, they would get extremely fussy right before bedtime: the dreaded witching hour. It was terrible; they were inconsolable. When I asked the pediatrician about it, they said that newborns can get overstimulated by noise, siblings, outside adventures, TV, flashy toys, etc. There were, of course, ways to avoid overstimulation: staying at home, not watching TV when baby is awake, covering baby’s carseat with a blanket when outdoors, etc. I was not for any of that, and the more kids I had the less it was even possible to lessen the stimulation. I needed “Gilmore Girls” for my own sanity, I needed to go out and do things, and when it was hot, I was not about to cover baby’s carseat with a blanket.
The only solution by the time they got to this point was to dim the lights, play soothing music or white noise, and rock them slowly and calmly. And all of this while keeping your own heart rate down because super ninja babies can sense your stress. My first kid needed me to speak to her in a quiet voice to calm her down. I would literally have to talk for twenty minutes straight until she fell asleep. The second I would stop talking she’d get fussy and cry. I once went through mine and my husband’s entire extended family describing each person until she finally drifted off. Luckily, they eventually grew out of this, but I think with too much stimulation we can also become overwhelmed.
As I was trying my best to fall asleep last night, I couldn’t help but think that I am seriously overstimulated right now; we all are. All of the things going on in the world are just too much for our brains and our hearts. I couldn’t sleep, and even during the day I found myself powerless to do anything productive. There are too many decisions to make right now, with way too many variables, and every answer is the wrong one. There are too many bad things happening, too many people getting hurt, and too many burdens to carry. We are overstimulated and there is only one solution: go to a quiet room, and be comforted by someone who has no stress. And there’s only one way to enter into this kind of comfort: real, quiet time with God.
None of these obstacles we are facing can be removed with the snap of our fingers. These fires will not be put out today, COVID isn’t going away tomorrow, and our kids have virtual school for who knows how long. We can’t remove these obstacles, but we can retreat to quiet places to find rest. We can, like Jesus, steal away from our lives for a minute and connect with the Lord.
When Jesus was about to be sent to the cross to carry everyone’s sin on his shoulders. When he was about to be betrayed by his closest friend, and disowned in public by another. When he was about to be tortured and endure deep pain, and cause all of his friends and followers a similar pain. When he was on the brink of all of this, he retreated to the mountains, to cry, to pray, and to lean on the comfort he knew would be best: God’s comfort.
“Jesus went to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him… He withdrew about a stones throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed… An angel of heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly…” Luke 22:39, 41, 43-44a
Jesus recognized that he was overstimulated. He recognized that what he was about to bear was too much for him. We must recognize this, too; this burden is too much to bear. We must go to a quiet place, kneel down before our Father and pray. And if we do this we will be strengthened. What a promise to be had for us who go to him: strengthened by God himself to endure these times where there is no real, good, clear answer. And then, in our anguish, we should pray more earnestly. He can hear and handle our earnest prayers; he wants to hear them.
Like my babies we need to go into a quiet room, we need to snuggle into the comfort of the Lord, and feel safe. So much is going on around us, and we can get swept away in the overwhelm, in the busyness, in the problem-solving of it all. I encourage you today, not to just flip on a podcast while doing dishes, or throw on some worship music in the car (which some days is all I can do). I encourage you to intentionally go to a quiet room, sit down, and open your heart to the Lord. Turn off the noise, turn off the stimulation, turn off the stress, and listen. You will be strengthened.