I have very vivid memories of the terror I would feel at night as a child. Often, I'd sleep with my entire head covered in blankets, just to feel safer. I'd listen with sharp ears to any noise that was strange or different. When I was about nine years old, my mom taught me about ancient Egypt in school, and while I was fascinated and poured over the pages of our school books during the day, the pictures of mummies haunted my dreams. I'd wake up in a cold sweat, too afraid to even hear my own voice calling out for my mom! I have no idea why I was such a fearful child, but thinking of my own children enduring such strong emotions and fears breaks my heart a little.
Not really knowing any other way to approach River's fear at night, I've been praying with him. That's what I would do anyway -- so why not over him, in front of him, so he can hear the words I'm saying, see my faith that God will protect him and bring him peace? It is so important to me that my kids see God as real, tangible, loving. Now that River is four, I've really begun to grasp the importance of this verse:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. -- Deuteronomy 6:5-9
Tonight as I was putting the kids to bed, I asked River to turn off the lamp. He hopped down from bed, flicked off the switch, and started scrambling to get back on. "Mama, can you turn the light on your phone!"
I asked him if he was a little scared because it was dark. I told him there was nothing to be afraid of, because it was just him and Austen and me, and that there was nothing scary in the room -- only our guardian angels watching over us. "Yeah... hey Mama, can you pray that God would watch over me and keep me safe?"
Um, yes, I will pray for you! (My heart burst and left warm fuzzes all over the place, it was a mess.) We cuddled up, the three of us (I haven't figured out how to kick either one of them out of my bed yet) and prayed for God's peace and protection... for good dreams and safe feelings... for restful sleep and happy thoughts... and then he turned over and fell asleep in minutes.
I don't know the right words to say. I stumble over my explainations of things. Sometimes it's difficult to put into words what I want my kids to know about God. I don't want him to be a genie in a bottle, or someone who will always say YES! to everything or someone who will put a bandaid on all their problems. But I do want them to have the joy of Christ. Knowing that while life is really going to suck sometimes, he will always be there, and in the midst of really crappy circumstances, he will always offer peace that passes understanding and the joy of their salvation.
I want their faith in God to begin now, while they're so little. When they are older and have questions, I don't want them to be afraid of asking those questions. But I want so badly to give them a firm foundation. To give them faith. And seeing River's faith in God tonight when he asked me to pray for him -- it makes me feel a little better about the mistakes I've made as a mama. After all, as a human, I will fail him. Over and over. But God is steadfast... he never will.