Then She Will Not Be Scared

Something I wrote two years ago for friends, which points me again to “choose the good portion, which will not be taken away,” this week of Thanksgiving…

 

She’s getting older.

It’s right there, in the way she keeps up with Mommy and Daddy’s conversations, in the “take them a meal” boxes she prepares right alongside mine, in the bun I arranged (let’s use the term loosely, shall we?) the day she wanted to have her hair “up just like Mommy’s.”

In some of those “tiny adult” things, I see shadows of the growing up to come.

I wish some of them never would, if you know what I mean. It’s hard to look unbridled toddler joy full in the face — unleashed simply by saying “yes” to “Mommy can you read the book again, ’cause I can’t ‘member this one” — and imagine the different intensities of disappointment she’ll experience in the next two decades.

It takes effort to imagine this happiest of bouncy dancers being restrained by the suffocating weight of self-conscious awareness someday. Or to imagine that these tiny hands, so ready to offer loving hugs to sad faces, will one day be stung by rejection or humiliation.

But they probably will. Especially if this little apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

It’s not the kind of thing you look forward to witnessing as a parent. But it is the kind of thing I catch myself thinking about.

And I already ache a bit for her when I do.

And yet…

I stood at the kitchen sink doing dishes today, listening to praise music from my college days. Some songs bring back the keenest memories of what I was doing and what state I was in… and I stood there with the water spilling into the sink, feeling drenched in mercy.

There are a lot of plot twists in my story that I’d love to erase if I could go back. I couldn’t necessarily tell you which ones I needed in order to change and which ones came about because of my own folly… but none of them has been wasted. It reminds me of a question I was asked at my bridal shower: “What’s one word you’d use to describe your relationship with Y?” Only one came instantly to mind: “Redemption.”

*

Out of all the things we are trying to teach Lucy about God, one that really seems to be sinking in is His (omni)presence. A few weeks ago Y was trying to explain something about God to her and said, “…so, we can’t see God with our eyes.” She interrupted him to say softly, “But, God is always wif me.”

A couple nights ago, we finished her bedtime story from The Jesus Storybook Bible and, like every night, she asked what the title of the next one would be. We looked at the picture of Jesus’ disciples huddling fearfully in an upstairs room, and I told her that tomorrow we’d read about how they were waiting for Someone.

“Do you know who that might be?”

She glanced at the gray faces. “Um, um… the Holy Speewit.” (Y’s eyebrows went up.) Then she looked more closely at the picture and said, “They’re scared, so, the Holy Speewit isn’t there.”

“Oh. (My eyebrows went up.) Yes, that’s right!”

“And when He comes then they will not be scared.”

It — might — just be possible

that she gets this better than I do.

Certain household appliances scare her into sticking closer to me than my shadow. But they don’t scare her into leaving the room or going out of earshot. “Why don’t you go read while I run the food processor?” I ask, unwinding the cord.

“No,” she tells me, eyeing it warily, “I want to be close to you.”

So I grind the oatmeal in screeching batches with this tiny person wrapped around the back of one of my knees. But she’d rather be there than away from the whole scene.

And because she’s there, we talk. I tell her what I’m doing, and how many pulses it’ll probably take for each batch. “One… two… hm, you think that’s fine enough? Maybe one more?” If I talk nonchalantly enough, I can coax her to peer around the side of my knee to watch the rolled oats whir around the container.

“Maybe one more,” she agrees.

“See?” I tell her. “All done! And now we have some yummy oatmeal to eat for breakfast tomorrow.”

She nods, and trots off to do the next thing.

She understands… that being near me won’t make the scary sound go away. But she’d rather be there with me than far away without me, and because she’s there, I get to tell her more about what’s going on, watch her face and comfort her, help her see a little more of what I know.

“And when He comes then they will not be scared.” 

Yes, I think she gets this better than I do.

Perfect love and fear don’t exist in the same space. Trust trumps fear. Even if all I can do is wrap my anxious arms around the smallest part of God and see nothing from where I stand, it’s worth being near… it’s worth listening. For this is the place where the great work begins.

*

May she be at Your knee through all the sound and fury to come as she grows. No matter how hard they may buffet, or how confusing they may be.

And may You find me just as close by, listening, waiting for what You have to say… as near as (and nearer than) I was when I was growing up myself, and You were turning my whirring, whirling mess into a wild and beautiful batch of redemption.

“For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.”
– Psalm 84:10a, ESV

 

 

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