Last night, a little parenting moment that seems so pertinent, in so many ways…
Heidi creeps quietly into the room where I’m putting clothes away.
“Mommy, can I talk to you?”
And she has that quivery voice that tells me something’s up so I turn to gather her up.
“Of course, Sweetie, what’s up?”
And then the dam breaks and a torrent of tears come, seemingly out of nowhere.
“I had my lollipop in my mouth when I was outside and it made me think that I looked like I had a cigarette in my mouth and I don’t like that. I don’t like that…” she sobs.
I smile. I don’t know what it is with my sweet girl and cigarettes but they bother her something fierce. We have a lot of loved ones who smoke, and no matter how many times I’ve told her it’s not a big deal, it still seems to bother her.
I hold her while she cries. I wait. No use correcting or chiding. She’s not misbehaving, she’s grieving. She’s not throwing a tantrum, blaming, or acting inappropriately.
She’s just sad.
Besides, we’ve done this enough times, I know there’s usually something more. Something lurking there beneath the surface.
“And then…”she takes a breath, “I had a dream. I had a dream that I had another mom and she wasn’t you and she was smoking a cigarette.”
Of course I smile at the cigarette bit, but I can understand more why the triggered sadness. There’s always something deeper, right?
I continue to hold her while she cries. I wait.
A few minutes later, she pulls away slightly to say something else. I can tell she wants to say something.
“Mommy I just … I’m … “
Her face crumples into tears again but she gets it out:
“I’m afraid of when you aren’t here on earth anymore! How can I go through life without someone on my side???”
Oh. Oh my girl. My sweet girl.
And now my eyes fill just a bit, because although I can’t empathize with cigarette-trauma, I do know this feeling.
Oh we know this feeling so very much.
How can we go through life without someone on our side?
There’s always a fear behind the fear. Yes? It might seem ridiculous, the stuff of cigarettes and lollipops, but beneath that fear there is a bad-dream, a fear that’s real. Legit even.
Sure, in some ways all our fears are unreasonable, but our unreasonable fears are usually just symptoms of a much greater fear. And the truth is:
Fear is legit. We battle fear because, quite frankly, there’s stuff to be afraid of.
This world is’t friendly. Tragedy happens. There are evil forces at work against us that could scare us out of our wits.
So it doesn’t help to launch logic-bombs at the tearful and tell them to get a grip.
So I pull my girl even closer into my arms, and we lie there on the bed, arms and legs wrapped around each other, her cheek resting on mine so that her tears dampened my dry cheek.
I get close enough that her sorrow spills over onto me.
And I offer the only real antidote to the paralyzing power of fear: PEACE.
We pray for peace. We ask God for the peace that surpasses all understanding, the peace that doesn’t make a lick of sense. The peace that defies logic and leaves us baffled at how it guards our hearts and minds … in Christ Jesus.
He is the only one who can offer this unshakable peace because He is the Prince of Peace. The world cannot offer this peace.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27
After praying, we stay there, arms around each other, silent. I wait.
Soon, she lifts her head,
“Can we play Uno?!”
I laugh, “Of course!” and out we go to play the game together. By the time we deal she’s back to her giddy, silly, giggly, ridiculous self, and I’m so glad I got a glimpse of her heart, our fear, His peace.
Thanks for reading.