It’s been a few months since I did my earlier entries about things my little boy has taught me. Of course, he has been instructing me in all sorts of things since then. For instance, I never saw how heroic Stormtroopers from Star Wars could be until he took a liking to a figure he has named “Trooper”. But more potently, a recent trip to the beach showed me a lot about what it means to have faith.
We’ve been to the beach three times now with our little one. He probably only has vague memories of the previous two times, and this was our first trip of 2017, so he really hadn’t had to sleep anywhere but his own bedroom for a long time. It should come as no surprise that he was a little uncomfortable the first night at the hotel. I had to stay with him an extra-long time to convince him that the lamp in the room, which cast a rather nasty shadow, was okay. As were the sounds made by the A/C and the noises made by people above, below, and on our floor. I felt like a real dad hero when he fell asleep after my reassurances about his surroundings. Then came night #2. “Scared” became the anthem for the night and the rest of the trip. I came to dread having to put him down to sleep, because on a couple occasions my reassurances lasted nearly an hour and proved futile. No matter how many times I promised the lamp wouldn’t hurt him and that the A/C was a good thing so the sound it made wasn’t something be frightened by, he kept telling me he was scared. Or his stuffed doggy was scared. Or “Trooper” was scared. Or the Batmobile. I should note that my son doesn’t go to sleep very well at all if you stay to try to “see him to sleep”. It adds fuel to his fire and sometimes ends up in him not napping at all. He likes sleep and he definitely needs it, so we try to avoid missing sleep at all costs.
After a while I enlisted help. Mom came to the rescue and her tactic for calming him was amazingly simple, but not something I thought of. Unlike me, she didn’t get hung up in repetitive iterations of saying this or that was safe and that he didn’t need to be afraid. She simply told him she was going to be in the next room and could call to her when he needed her. Then she did just that and he did call out a few times. In fact, he still took a fair amount of time to settle in, but settle he did. And I was struck by how like our spiritual lives the scenario seemed.
How often do we get caught up in the circumstances of life and focus on the “lamps” in the room or the “sounds” that we hear? God promised to never leave or forsake His own. (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5) But I confess, there are any number of times when I’ve let fear best me. Recently I had a battle with anxiety attacks. Still am battling to an extent, and perhaps that is why this struck me so hard. Just like I knew the situation so much better than my son, God knows ours so much better as well. Just like my wife and I were near, so God is near to us. If we do not feel His presence right beside us, there is a purpose to the distance and in that we can take great comfort. Because whereas I don’t always know what to do for my son, the Lord always knows how to care for His children.