‘Tummy Time helps to build the strength and coordination needed for rolling over, crawling, reaching, and playing. Remember that all babies benefit from Tummy Time, including newborns’– www.aota.org
How many of us feel like were lying face down, fallen flat on our face? We’re always looking down, unable to see ahead and it’s a struggle to lift our head?
As I encourage Ava to practice tummy time each day, I look on as she stays in pretty much the same position right now- still facing down and can’t quite lift her head up off the floor. She’s desperately trying to kick with her legs and attempting to push off with her arms, but hasn’t quite managed to move yet.
Tummy time is still a relatively new experience. She spends more time in people’s arms, listening and looking around rather than floor time. So as she approaches the 3-month milestone (where has that time gone by the way?) I figured I better start encouraging more tummy time.
When I read about the benefits (as I often like to do) I realised just how important tummy time is. In reading the benefits, I felt challenged to think about how this relates to our walk with God.
Although we may feel like we’re doing tummy time, all the time; the struggling, facing down, the striving, the attempting to lift our head and see what’s in front of us- without it, I believe we won’t grow or build the strength needed to get through different seasons in life.
If we didn’t experience struggles, even occasions falling flat on our faces- perhaps we wouldn’t learn how to find the strength to get back up again; to try again, to see and to avoid, all the while learning from our experiences.
So often I feel we grumble and complain about the tummy times. We don’t want to spend time learning to crawl; to reach, to pull ourselves up, to develop strength. We want things now- to walk before we can crawl (or in Avas case, crawl before she can tummy time.)
We could actually learn by watching infants. I know with Ava, when I roll her onto her tummy, she doesn’t become frustrated as she tries to lift her head or kick her legs. Frustration doesn’t consume her when she’s not going anywhere. At the moment, she can’t move from the spot she’s in until she builds up enough strength to push off using her arms and legs. Instead, she keeps trying, continuing to push, to figure out which way to tilt her head so she can still breath! She has a focus.
She listens for my voice, encouraging and getting along side her, to keep going and praising her. Sure after a while she becomes a little tired, and towards the end, may become a little stressed when it’s time to stop. But she endures, and in the midst of what is quite difficult for her to learn, she continues to keep her joy. She keeps going.
She deffinately takes after her Dad who is so laid back he could fall over at times! But he too, always has a positive outlook, seeing trials and tribulations as a positive. He doesn’t complain much and never regrets anything. I learn from him daily and Ava is so blessed to have him as her role model.
Couldn’t we just learn from our children though? Their resilience to keep going even when it appears hard and they become tired?
How often do we spend doing tummy time?
I’m not saying we should deliberately place ourselves in trials or difficulty. But when they come, to use and view that time as an opportunity. An opportunity to grow in strength, maturity, wisdom, courage, confidence, sensitivity, forgiveness, love, relationship with God. To see how God turns situations around and uses them to grow us so we can have the strength to deal with what’s coming next. To hear His voice in the struggle instead of being drowned out with the endless comments of impossibility.
Yes, we will get tired. We may even become frustrated and feel like giving up. It may appear that at the time we’re not moving anywhere, still in the same place you were days/weeks/years ago. You may feel like it’s a struggle to even lift your head off your pillow some days. But what if we saw those challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. Allowing them to build us up and strengthen us so we can begin to crawl, then walk and even run?
Take your time
I believe we need to learn to start off slowly or we’ll cause ourselves harm. If Ava tried to walk now, her legs would crumble and buckle under the weight of her body. Her legs aren’t yet strong enough to even push off crawling, let alone walk. She unable to support her back enough to sit up and doesn’t realise her hands are a useful tool to support and reach.
How often do we view tummy time as a negative? We want to rush things. Perhaps we’ve asked God for something and want an answer now, preventing us from being able to enjoy where we are in the waiting. We want that dream, that vision to come to fruition- now. We can handle it, we can cope (or so we tell ourselves, and God!) Well God knows whether you can or not.
Just as a child learns to ride their bike, beginning with four sturdy wheels, then stabilisers before finally being ready for the two wheelers! In the mean time they may acquire a few bruises and cuts, stumbles and falls but all the while developing strength, confidence, agility, balance, coordination and the ability to enjoy the ride!
Face time with God
Research suggests that a good way of encouraging tummy time is to lay your baby chest to chest with yours. Often referred to as skin to skin. This encourages the baby to lift their head to face yours and develops bonding.
While some tummy time is out of our control, I believe it is important to spend some tummy time with God. Humble ourselves to a place where we just spend time with Him, in His word, in His presence; talking and praying, learning His promises, and resting in Him.
Why not try some face to face time with God? I’m not literally saying you’ll see his face, but just really get up close and personal. Get real with your Heavenly Father. Lift your head up from what the world says you’re facing and look to what God says about the opportunities He’s given you, the blessings to be thankful for, what can you learn from this season? Fix your eyes on Him, instead of what you’re facing. Just as I do with Ava, look to Him who is along side of you, encouraging and praising you.
Enjoy the ride. Lift your head, grow and draw your strength from the Lord. When the world tells you it’s ‘too hard, too difficult, you’ll never do it, you’ll never move on from where you are’– look to God’s word and see what He says.
Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
1 Peter 1:6-7
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.
“In order to build your faith, God will give you a dream; then he’ll urge you to make a decision; but then he’ll allow a delay, because in the delay he matures you and prepares you for what is to come.
The truth is you’ll have difficulties while God delays. This isn’t because he doesn’t care about you or that he’s forgotten your circumstances; rather, it’s one of the ways he pushes you toward the deep end of faith.
As God delays, you’ll face two types of difficulties: Circumstances and Critics. This is a natural part of life. God designed it this way because he knows we grow stronger when facing adversity and opposition.
God does this because he is building our faith and character. When we finally come to a place where the difficulties become so bad, where we’ve reached our limit, where we’ve tried everything and exhausted all our options, it is then that God begins a mighty work through us”