I wonder how many of us remember being comforted as a child by a mom or dad in times of anxiety, pain, or fear. I do not have such clear memories, though I am sure they happened, as my parents were normal, loving parents who cared about the welfare of their children. However, I have lots of memories of comforting our own children in their difficult times, whether physical or emotional.
We had just returned from the hospital with our 3rd baby, Amanda, and were trying to adjust to having a new little one in the house. It is amazing that such a tiny little human can command such total acquiescence to her every little demand and need by simply turning up the volume of her protests! Amanda was the most vociferous of our 3 children and used her ability to make her needs known skilfully. We had a friend’s 13-year-old daughter staying with us for the summer, helping me out with chores and watching the 2 boys when I needed to concentrate on the new baby. Beth also enjoyed cuddling with the new baby – that is, when Amanda would allow it. There was no doubt that the new little one greatly preferred mommy to anyone else, though.
It was evening and I was craving a nice, hot, luxurious soak in the tub. I felt grubby and smelled of sour milk and various other baby body fluids, not to mention my own perspiration. Oh, how I wanted that bath…but little Amanda was in a particularly difficult mood this particular evening and would howl every time I put her down. Finally, kind-hearted Beth suggested I just go ahead and take that bath and let her deal with the baby. “Are you sure?”, I asked her rather doubtfully. I knew how loud that little creature could be when really riled. “Yes”, she bravely replied, also equally aware of the decibels our sweet daughter could produce, having already experienced a few weeks of ear-splitting sessions. So, I left the big girl with the challenge of comforting the little girl and went to draw my nice, hot bath.
Sure enough, I had barely slipped into the comforting warmth of the water when the initial whines and hiccoughs began, quickly escalating to wails and then frantic screams. I could hear Beth in the next room cooing and talking soothingly to the screaming maniac in her arms, who paid not the slightest attention. I was quickly feeling guilty and considering cutting my soak really short, as I heard Beth becoming more desperate in her valiant efforts, when the screaming suddenly abated to whimpers, then quiet. What had she done with my daughter? And in my own house! I called out, asking if everything was OK, and Beth happily replied that everything was fine and to go on with my bath. So, a bit nervously, I did.
Upon emerging from the bathroom, I found a proud, beaming Beth, cuddling a contentedly dozing Amanda, all wrapped up in my warmest, flannel nightgown, face turned towards the mommy scent of the flannel. Then it hit me. Amanda was not craving food. She did not need to be changed. She did not even desire entertainment at that moment. It was my presence she craved, she needed. Though the nightgown was not me, it did have my scent and thus gave Amanda the comfort she needed, sufficient to allow her to get the sleep she also badly needed at that time.
This realization also brought to my mind times I have stressed myself (and others around me) over this or that problem, seemingly inconsolable and unable to relieve myself of the anxiety or of fears. In those times, when instead of constantly fussing and complaining, I make myself get into God’s presence through prayer or reading His Word, I am reminded that He is always with me, ready to help, to guide, to comfort, or to strengthen me in my time of need. Even in difficult times where there seems to be no ready answers, I am comforted sufficiently to rest until the resolution comes – kind of like Amanda all swaddled in mommy’s soft nightdress, taking in the aroma of her mother, and resting, while waiting for mom to come address her needs.
The presence of a parent is powerful. Usually, a child does not feel he or she needs explanations or to understand how problems will be resolved. The presence of daddy or mommy is sufficient to know that somehow all will be well. Can we trust our Heavenly Father that way? Can we just sit in His presence, knowing that when Daddy’s with me, somehow all will be OK, even if I don’t understand it all; even if I am afraid? There’s much to be said for faith and the strength and comfort it brings. If you have not tried getting to know how to “be still and know [He] is God”, I would urge you to try it. He is the ultimate good parent, whose presence is powerful indeed in producing that peaceful sense of well-being and trust that eventually, all will be well, indeed.