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Follow me as I follow Jesus

Responses & Reactions: Lessons From Susannah Jane

Susannah Jane, our sweet baby girl.

Our baby just turned six months old. Half a year. It’s hard to process how fast half a year has elapsed. 

Outside our salvation and marriage, Susannah Jane is the greatest gift of our lives. She is the most content, joyful, sweet little human and we are unbelievably grateful to know her, much less be her parents. 

Starting at the earliest stage of pregnancy, the Lord has used her to teach and develop my heart even as He was developing hers. Journals are full of wrestling with fears, anxieties, and lessons learned as we went through each week of pregnancy. As the Lord was shaping her little body in my womb, He was using her to shape me. And now that she’s been outside my body for six months, the lessons continue to come. It seems this tiny creature is a never-ending sermon.

This week has been no different. 

Over the last few weeks, we’ve noticed how Susannah Jane looks to us to regulate her responses. Whenever she (safely) topples over, we intentionally don’t make a big deal about it. We usually smile and say, “Whoa! Big girl!” And she grins and proceeds with her current status as a human rolling pin. When our dog Packer whizzes by her, barking out the window at someone who has the audacity to walk by our house, she is unfazed but still looks at us and we laugh and tell her how silly Packer is. She looks to us for cues in how to respond in other ways too, like watching us as people approach, looking for how we react to something falling or a door slamming, or anything else startling.

Packer and Susannah Jane. Best buddies.

This week, however, she was sitting in the kitchen with me while I made a smoothie.

She is normally taking a nap when I make my (almost) daily smoothie, so she hadn’t experienced the blender from a front-row seat. She watched as I explained each ingredient and put them into the blender, then I said, “Okay, it’s about to get really LOUD.” And I flipped on the switch. Maybe it was because I was listening through her ears, but it was louder than I expected. 

She looked at me and I smiled with big eyes and said, “Whoa! That is really loud!!” She looked back to the blender and then to me, her face crinkling in fear a little more with each nanosecond. I said, “It’s okay, it’s just loud,” smiling the whole time. She was not convinced. Her little face scrunched even more and she closed her eyes and opened her mouth to cry when I went to her, wrapped my arms around her little body, and looked in her eyes again, telling her it was okay and I was right there. She searched my face, smiled, and we continued to watch the Vitamix pulverize fruit and spinach. She never cried.

At that moment, it hit me just how much she looks to us to determine her reactions. She doesn’t just notice our responses, she adapts to them. She takes her cues from us, orienting herself based on what we do. She doesn’t freak out because we’re not freaking out. She smiles because we assure her this is a safe situation. She mirrors our reactions because she involuntarily trusts us and takes comfort from our calm.

How much different would my life look if, in the unchartered territory of stress, fear, or anxiety, I looked to my heavenly Father and regulated my responses according to His?

What would my mind and heart look like if, when tempted to panic, my eyes flew to the Lord to see how He reacted to the same circumstances and then trusted Him enough to allow His calm and confident character to determine my reaction, and went about the day? 

If Susannah Jane takes comfort at six months old knowing her mama and daddy aren’t concerned about something and then subconsciously regulates her little body accordingly, how much more benefit do we have as God’s children to look at His steadfast character in His Word and regulate our lives by it?

Do we know His character and sufficiency enough to see it and allow it to tune our hearts?

Do we have His Word hanging in the doorposts of our minds (and homes) so we can have constant reminders of His reactions and unwavering goodness, sovereignty, compassion, and care? Or are we drawing from a broken cistern (namely ourselves and our own evaluation of circumstances) that leads us to more fear and anxiety? 

May He help us to take our cues from Him, the One who is with us in our topples, calms us with His steadiness in our frenetic worries, and comes close with His comfort when everything is loud and scary. 

“You keep him in perfect peace
    whose mind is stayed on You,
    because he trusts in You.
Trust in the Lord forever,
    for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”
-Isaiah 26:3-4

6 comments on “Responses & Reactions: Lessons From Susannah Jane

  1. Kathleen Eckelkamp says:

    Oh Sophie!! So wonderful because it’s so true!!!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

    1. You’re exactly right! So grateful!

  2. Tammi Burgess says:

    I needed this so much! Still love watching and hearing how God is working in your life!

    1. Thank you for this encouragement!! I needed this too. So thankful for the Lord’s kind mercy!

  3. Monica says:

    So much knowledge and wisdom, that came from the response of a six month old . learning from the behaviors and actions from her parents how true . I never looked at this in this way before. I’m m in my late 50’s and I will practice this discovery, in my own life with grandchildren. This acknowledgment you shared is outstanding it gave me such reassurance that God is with me and nothing can defeat me . As long as I look towards him for guidance. Amen!

  4. Rochelle Duff says:

    My baby is 17 months old, and the fear and anxiety that I’ve dealt with has been so scary. Postpartum depression and anxiety has been crippling. As my son gets older, it gets easier to trust he will be ok, but there were crippling times.
    I think trusting God is the hardest part, because he never promises that things will be ok, but that he will be with you during it.

    I wrestled with this fact because my son is the most important thing in my life, and I was clutching him like a kid with their favorite toy and begging God to not let anything happen to him.

    I would lie in bed and pray and ask for God’s protection over my son in the depths of my anxiety and have a hard time knowing if he would grant my prayer because his ways are always better, even if it meant taking my son away.

    The analogy you made is absolutely right. My son does look to my husband and me for our reactions to things, and I wonder what it would be like if I started to look to our Heavenly Father.

    I’ve started to have to adopt an eternity lens that God has to see that things are good even if they don’t feel good. I have had to put my faith and trust in his character and not what he allows.

    This was so inspiring and I wish I would have read it while I was so deeply struggling, but I will pass this on to my many pregnant / mom friends.

    Thank you for being bold and Sharing your insights and experiences.

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