One could argue that babies are the most human of us all. They act on instinct and impulse. They are the most animal, let’s say. They’re the most in touch with their humanity in its earthly, primal form
And babies cry. The average healthy baby under 6 weeks cries around 3 hours per day (according to BabyCenter.com, which lines up with my experience in this case!) This mostly happens in short bursts, gratefully, but its true whether the baby is cared for well or not. Probably neglected babies cry more, at least for a while.
Crying is the chief method of communication for infants. They can’t say please and thank you, they can’t give intelligent signs to make a polite request. Even if they are in a comfy spot with a dry diaper and a loving family, when they get hungry, they will cry.
This is good for parents, because that’s how we know they’re in need. If they mitigated their crying out of a reasonable sense of gratitude for their pleasant lot in life, they might not get fed much.
All of this is relevant to me personally, because ever since we moved, I’ve been crying like a baby about once per week. So the newborns have got me beat with their 3 hours per day.
I keep feeling like I should be more grateful, and shouldn’t need to cry or feel the intense emotions that lead to these waterworks. I have so much of what I wanted—a rest from ministry, loads of family time, a pleasant and comfortable house. I even have a place to hang laundry that’s not my bedroom, which was a little add-on prayer request I made when we were searching for homes. I hadn’t thought to ask for the glorious sunroom in which I now sit writing.
Other things that warrant my surprised gratitude: We live so close to Lake Michigan that I spend time with it every day. My husband and I are going on a date tonight. Three people introduced themselves to me at church today.
That’s just some of the new stuff in my life that I’m grateful for. There are treasures so often enjoyed that their names have worn off. But I remember them: Healthy Children. Loving Husband. Unending Life in Christ. Wisdom from God. Parents who Taught me Truth. Friendship with my Siblings.
What right do I have to cry about anything, when my life is so replete with blessings? I have the same right as a well-cared-for newborn. I am happy about all the good things, and I cry about the following: want of certainty, fear of failing, loss of normalcy, distant friends. Being well-cared-for doesn’t cancel out my need to express these wants.
I imagine it would be better if I didn’t cry or feel the low feelings that crowd around my tears. But if I didn’t cry, would I know I had those wants, hidden under the surface as they are? Would I bring those requests to God? Would I recognize when God brought the answer?
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”