You know the cry, the one that swells from regular into wail, the one that says something is very wrong.
As the shift happened, I dropped what I was doing and moved for the staircase, my mind racing through the possible catastrophes. But before I could get far, K speed-walked into the kitchen, one hand held steady by another, her body shaking with panic. A very sizeable shard of wood had gone straight through the end of her finger, starting at the pad and coming out in by her nail, blood already spread around it.
“Oh my,” I managed. Her shaking was uncontrollable. As quickly and delicately as I could, I pulled the shard from her hand (honestly, I just wanted that thing out of her finger, freaked-out as I was). Then I examined it closely, making sure that I’d gotten every bit and that there were no other splinters than the (giant) one. I wrapped it with tissue and got her some ice. I smothered her with kisses and hugs and reassurances that it was scary but fine.
But when she was calm, we went to the banister and I asked her where she’d been holding on. I ran my hands along every inch of that banister, checking for loose wood, making sure it was smooth. There was one little chink and I smoothed it off, then talked about how the banister was old and maybe we shouldn’t run our hands along it too roughly.
I was so thankful that she came to me, panicked as she was. I was thankful that she trusted me to make it better. I was thankful that she knew I would be more skilled at the task than her, because she could easily have broken that splinter off trying to get it out, and then we’d have had a much more unpleasant task before us. I was thankful that I could care for her, both in the moment and in the future, trying to ensure she was safe and also trying to help her learn.
It’s not lost on me how very much I learn about God through parenting.
How many times do I panic? How often do I try to fix it myself? I will do better, I tell myself. I will be different. But those hurts, those struggles, those are the very times that we need our God. He is so much more capable–dexterous but gentle. He sees the big picture, the real place of our hurt, and not just the bloody spot on our hand. And He longs to comfort us, immediately and tenderly.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)
I imagine the love I have for my children, the way I want to help them, keep them safe, teach them and comfort them. And then I multiply that by a million. And then I stand awestruck to know that even that doesn’t capture my Father’s love. Why, in the midst of struggle, do I still refuse that love? What do I make worse by not taking my hurts immediately to the one who loves me more than I could ever imagine?
I know enough to not task myself to do better. But I will try to remember: the way I could help K, the way God could help me, the way we could work together. And maybe the next time that I am shaking with fear, I will remember that I don’t have to face it on my own.