Does God wish I'd get sick too? I thought as I held my daughter.
Jaana has never been a clingy child. Even as an infant, she didn't like to be held a lot. She loved her crib and her personal space. She doesn't snuggle much; she won't fall asleep on my shoulder when I hold her. It's just not who she is. As much as I've hated that, I've come to accept her for her, and absorb those clingy moments when I get them.
I spent the first year of her life wondering where she learned that. I'd watch her sleep fitfully in my arms, then peacefully in her crib—and marvel that God indeed is the Creator of all, because she didn't inherit that from me.
And yet as Jaana gets older, I've noticed there's one time when she is the clingy, lovey, snuggly baby I always wanted. It's when she's really sick. During those times, only I will do for her. She'll fall asleep on me, cuddle up with me on the couch, want to sleep with me at night.
I've become embarrassingly giddy when she comes down with a small illness—because I know that I'll finally get to love on her the way I know best. She'll simply rest in my arms and let me stroke her back. I totally pamper her, because she'll let me.
During one particularly bad time when she was two years old, she had a fever of 104 degrees and slept off and on in my arms all day. I soaked it up and at one point told God how grateful I was to have this moment. Almost immediately, I felt him speak to my spirit: Why don't you let me do that to you too? It was an overwhelmingly emotional moment frozen in my memory.
Although I longed to have a chance to hold Jaana to comfort her, she never let me until she was completely broken down and had no energy to do anything but. God showed me in an instant that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
He began to show me all the times I do the same—run over for a quick kiss on the cheek, then off to do my own thing. Stop and say a quick prayer, then go back to checking email and voice mail. Let a praise song that's been in my head escape my lips, then finish cleaning the kitchen and getting lunches ready for the next day. And so it goes.
Several months ago I experienced a devastating miscarriage. Since that time, I've needed to fall into God's arms more often. I've fallen to my knees in utter sadness and disappointment, knowing that it's healthy for me to experience what I'm feeling in that moment. But all the other moments in which I need grace—when I'm frustrated at work, when the laundry is never-ending, when I'm biting my tongue as someone I love is about to make a terrible mistake—I let those moments pass by. Why don't I stop, right then, and recognize what I feel? To give it to God, to let him wash over me in love, comfort, and healing?
Every time Jaana gets sick, God reminds me that, yet again, I've fallen into the old routine of doing, doing, doing, and that it's time for being, being, being, and for snuggling up to him through all of it.
So as I hold my beautiful daughter, my mind goes to Jesus' words in Matthew 11:28-29: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
So I asked myself again, Does God wish I'd get sick too? And I realize that the answer is yes.
He's ready for me to get sick: sick of the place I'm in, sick of the monotony of daily chores, sick of telling myself to "power through it." He wants me to realize that I need to be in a place of brokenness, tiredness, and defeat—daily—so that I can be strengthened and restored by him.
I squeezed my Jaana a little tighter, smoothed her hair from her forehead, and smiled. "I love you, my precious girl," I whispered. Then I looked upward. And I felt my spirit get a squeeze as my Father whispered into my soul, I love you, my precious girl. Now rest and let me love you and hold you close.
Monica Steely is a graphic designer who lives in Georgia. www.elevateideas.com
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