Chronicles of Sadie

Fragile Expectations (Sadie’s First Bath)

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This anecdote concerns an experience that honestly terrified me in the pre-baby days: bath time. I’ve never been afraid of babies. In fact, I’m probably more comfortable than most men with them. I’m kind of a ham with the baby-talk and affection and what not—it’s just who I am.

However, I did carry a certain anxiety concerning little babies. You know, newborns. They just seemed so tiny. Fragile. Breakable. Ugh, I shudder even at the thought. To most guys, that miniscule little bundle of soft, cooing humanity might as well be an egg whose shell threatens to shatter at the slightest hint of movement. I think we anticipate that tiny head just rolling right off the shoulders! I know, I know—it’s horrible! But it’s high-time someone tell the truth about the male anxiety regarding newborns.

Couple that with the imagined experience of getting that little horrifyingly fragile person wet, slippery, and even more droppable, well—you’ve got the makings of an impressive ulcer. Just ask a few guys whose wives are pregnant with their first child. I’m not making this stuff up.

So when that little “Sadie Burrito” was finally laid in my arms, surprisingly emotional security began to build and I began to believe she wouldn’t just crumble to pieces at any moment. In fact, she seemed quite resilient—within reason. I began to learn that babies are quite flexible. Even malleable. They are like little bundles of cartilage whose heads and limbs change shapes and positions for months to come. Sadie no longer seemed nearly as fragile—she seemed more like a little elastic superhero!

Thus my anxiety lessened concerning the upcoming maiden voyage of the bath boat. Laura and I had heard that babies love baths—that they were soothing and relaxing for all parties involved. Yeah, that sounded nice!

So after the first few days at home, we prepared ourselves for the magical experience by putting the little “newborn bathing tub” over the sink and gathering the assortment of cammomile and lavender baby shampoos and lotions for nothing less than a day at the baby spa. My mother-in-law even got the camera ready so that we could capture this mystical moment for all time.

The warm water was ready and the room was enchanted with alluring aromas. We gently undressed Sadie and placed her in the tub when much to our surprise, she began to scream bloody murder at the top of her lungs. We thought she might get used to it after a few moments—we were wrong. Terribly wrong.

Sadie became so upset that her little naked body turned beet red as her banshee cries rose into the night sky—awakening the heavens with bloodcurdling and tortuous shrieks of sheer horror. I later theorized that in her little mind, she was being made to return to the confines of the womb and she was not going quietly again into that still night. The moment we had anticipated—a moment of rest and beauty—quickly morphed into the speediest sponge bath in history. We almost called Guinness!

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Sometimes—well, all of the time—what we expect is completely different from what we experience. Expectation and experience are cousins that speak different languages and reside on different sides of the universe. Are they related? You bet! Do they even remotely resemble each other? Maybe only in some obscure features. But are they the same? Never.

No other example is more readily observable than our daily walk with Jesus. What we expect is usually different from what we experience. It isn’t all idealistic comfort, excitement, and restfulness—no, it’s worse. We hurt. We are confused. We are blindsided.

Or maybe it is better! We survive. We experience peace when we should not have it. We become stronger than we thought. We begin to walk in compassion out of a personal awareness of hardship.

Maybe that’s why James says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1: 1-4 NLT).

In other words, when the “baby” you expected to “coo” suddenly becomes violently possessed with infant ire, realize that you are living real faith in a real life—spiritually, of course. Trouble doesn’t necessarily mean that something is wrong; it may mean that something is right! What Sadie thought was torture was actually meant for her good. Her cleansing. Her peace.

That initial bath moment wasn’t what we were expecting, but it became a memory of great joy. Later on, Sadie became a huge fan of baths. Simply put, we mustn’t let unrealistic expectations rob us of the joy of our actual experience. As Oswald Chambers said, “Let God be as unique with you as He is with everybody else.” Sometimes the moment you least expect will become the memory you most greatly cherish.

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