Life’s hard for a three year-old who won’t sleep. Even harder when Mama and Daddy might not be home until very late, and the plan to stay up until they arrive is naysayed by a no-nonsense nanny.
My little ward and I had been fighting a battle – my attempts to bring calm pitted against her rabid, hyper fight against her own fatigue. When it comes to stall tactics, everything is a game, and my little ward discovered she could fake having full energy reserves by lunging backwards into the pillows on her bed. Unfortunately, after a couple such lunges, the pillows shifted enough that on the third, her head went straight into the wall.
It was too much. Faced with bedtime and missing family, this new trauma sent her into full-blown panic. After a shocked silence, she screamed and bolted from her bedroom, slipping right by my attempts to console.
I went after her as she ran crying through the hallway, into the kitchen, and all the way to the living room, where she crawled behind the couch. The space between furniture and wall was too narrow for me to fit; I couldn’t draw her back out to me. She howled over every effort I made – assurances, demands, invoking my authority. Until finally, I called her by name and said, “Do you think I’m going to hurt you?”
She quieted. Looked me in the eye. Sniffled and shook her head. I said, “Will you let me help you feel better?” And with that, the fear was broken. She circled around and crawled into my lap. “Hold me, hold me, hold me, hold me,” was all she chanted. I wrapped her close and stroked her hair as she gradually calmed.
I don’t know how you parents do it. Even with the hope to be a parent myself someday, I get these glimpses into the job and wonder how anyone manages. But I also wonder just how many times you see these parallels to the relationship we believers have with our Father.
I am a pro at crawling behind life’s couch. When my normal securities aren’t in place or when I face an unexpected pain, I’m all flight and no fight. In those moments, even the Comforter looks frightening to me, and I run from Him, too. I’d rather go to mortal consolations because – I confess – they’re more familiar to me in the moment of crisis.
From the beginning, man has hid from God. “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid…so I hid,” said Adam (Genesis 3:10). Our trust in the Creator has been broken ever since. I don’t think I treat the sin of doubt seriously enough. When I hit a wall, and my first impulse is to run from the God who can aid me, what does that say about how well I know Him?
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
Let me believe the relentless Pursuer is here for my good, and that the space behind the couch is a lonely place to handle fear. His arms are waiting; leave it to a child to teach you the lessons you need to learn.