I sat on the floor outside of my 10 month-old son’s room hugging my knees. Inside the room Nate stood in his crib and cried for a mom who would not come. I can still remember the agony of listening to him cry. I was trying to get him to go to sleep on his own. Baby Nate will be 29 years old in a few months, and he and his wife are going through the same agony. “Crying it out” is a hot topic with young parents.
Somewhere I stumbled on an article suggesting a time limit. “Crying it out” with no limit on the time just seemed cruel, so whatever I read suggested limiting the time to 20 minutes. But that was just too long for me. I decided seven minutes was all I was going to let my babies cry.
The first time I let Nate “cry it out,” I was watching the seconds count down on a clock. I was back in the room in seven minutes and two seconds. I don’t remember if I gave in and just rocked him to sleep, or if I kept letting him cry in seven minute chunks. What I do remember is that on the second or third day I tried this, he fell asleep before the seven minutes were up. After that, if he cried beyond seven minutes, I figured one of his bi-monthly ear infections was back.
Seven minutes was my rule. I even started watching the clock in the middle of the night when he woke up, and I waited seven minutes before I went to him. Even during the night I had my little seven minute miracles where on the second or third night, he went back to sleep on his own.
In this part of eternity, God has given us time. Sometimes I think I use time to measure how long an unwanted event is happening. It’s been over 100 degrees for 32 days in a row. I haven’t had a raise in three years. That awful music from next door has been blasting away for 30 minutes.
But maybe God gave us time so we can know that suffering has a limit. Six months is a long time. But six months is over in seven months.
I’m a clock and calendar person (47 days until school starts again). It helps me to count down. Have you noticed that sometimes you don’t get a number to count down from? I can remember my sons asking me a “when” question, and I answered them with, “In a little while.” It was probably frustrating for them, but it was the best I could do.
I often find myself wanting a number from God. “How long will this last?” I ask. But the only answer I get is, “For a little while.” Years ago I knew seven minutes was all I could stand to hear my babies crying. I really don’t know my limit on other things. But God knows. He has promised that it won’t be longer than I can bear.
Thank you, God, for giving us the gift of time that puts limits on things.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
I Peter 5:10 (NIV)