Everyone who’s ever been the parent of young children always dreads the foreboding 3 a.m. knock on their bedroom door. Because let’s face it, we all know what’s coming next. As you stumble to gain consciousness from your well deserved REM sleep pattern, you know that the next few moments, and in some cases, the rest of the night will be met with tears, the recounting of bad dreams, reassurances that there’s no boogeyman lurking in your son’s or daughter’s closet, and eventually the hopeful return to your once peaceful state of sweet dreaming.
My husband and I encountered this very scene last night in the wee hours of the morning. We have three children all under the age of 8 who are very much in touch with their emotions, to put it lightly. You could say that in some years from now, I would not be surprised in the very least if one of them was up for the nomination of Best Actor or Actress! So over the years, we have come to the point in our marriage in which we have a sort of unspoken tag team system when handling these sorts of twilight hour shenanigans. Last night, like the good husband he is, Curtis took the “L” for our team by rising to the occasion by taking the first shift in answering the faint tap at our door. And, as most of you know, the sequence of events and words spoken went a little like this:
“What is it baby?”
“Daddy, I can’t sleep. Layla is scared and wants to sleep in my bed. But I don’t want her to.” Yadda, yadda, yadda.
My husband proceeded to handle this untimely midnight visitor with ease and was able to thwart her assault on our attempts at some shut eye. Within a few minutes, she was back in her bed and all was right in the world. Or so we thought. For to our growing vexation, she would be back two more times that night. By her third trip to our room, it was mamma’s turn to step into action. And one can only image my dwindling patience. I had had it. And I was ready to put an end to this disruptive night scheming my girls had fraught on my coveted beauty sleep.
As I walked into their darkened room with only a slight glimmer of their not one but two night lights, I felt the Holy Spirit gently tug on my heart. He quietly whispered to my perturbed and sleep deprived emotions,”Just calm down”. And like any sin-filled daughter of the King, I made a futile attempt to tussle with the Master. I wasn’t trying to hear that, well at least not at that moment. I needed this unwelcome encroachment upon my right to a hard-earned, full night’s sleep to cease and desist immediately.
Once I made it to the edge of my girls’ bunk beds, I began my approach in my classic “chastising, lecturer, stern, I mean business” voice. But as I laid down the law of what I needed to happen in the next 2.5 seconds to these two very emotionally distraught little girls, I could not shake what God had nudged within my heart the previous moment. So, I had to yield. I couldn’t push Him off any longer. Well, I could have, but we all know how that goes as a believer in Christ; it doesn’t work out too well to ignore the urging of your Lord.
I silently breathed a prayer asking God to calm my heart and give me the wisdom to navigate this drama in the dead of night. By the next breath, I slowly began to notice the change in the pace of my speech, as well as the softer tone of my voice. It started to take on a gentler quality. Before I knew it, I was speaking to my girls about the faithfulness of God and how he has gotten them through nights similar to this one. Because my five year old was the specific child experiencing the immediate distress, I invited her to think about God’s love for her and how He’s the best promise keeper out there. I asked her if she remembered another time when she was awakened by frightening dreams and how we prayed on that same occasion. I wanted to refresh her memory of how God kept her through that night in order to see the dawning of the sun. As I was finishing this late night call to remembrance of who our God is, I told my daughter that in the morning we would look back on tonight and celebrate how once again God kept His promise to her. With this, we prayed together and I left my children to trust in the God we serve.
This morning, as my children began to stir and I greeted them with hugs, kisses, and “Good morning my little rabbits”, I pulled my precious night crawler to my side, squeezed her and whispered in her ear, “God kept His promise!” She shyly nodded her head and softly uttered, “He did.”
As a parent seven years in the making, I’m realizing more and more that the words of author Susan Kemmerer ring true beyond my wildest imaginations. From her book, Homeschool Supermom…Not! When Grace Meets Homeschooling, I have found that a very clear mindset we as parents need to willingly embrace is that every day’s situations, circumstances, and challenges are “opportunities God has designed to change me by [H]is grace.” Honestly, this is a quote that I have grown to have a love/hate relationship with. So much so, it is now posted on my kitchen wall right above my kitchen sink (lol)! Some days, being a stay-at-home mother of three is simply amazing. I look at my little beauties and I cannot believe they are mine. There are some days that I can’t get over the fact that I get the privilege of raising them! And then, there are days…there are nights…there are days and nights just like last night in which all I can do is resent the fact that these three little people have some how found a way to totally rearrange my goals, my priorities, and even my life! In all this hustle and bustle and the innumerable pulls on me I sometimes forget that for the believer in Christ, life is supposed to be a continual trek along the road of sanctification. We must never forget the cautionary words of our Risen Jesus when he left His marching orders to those who would seek to follow Him. ” ‘I have told you all this so you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, I have overcome the world.’ (New Living Translation, John 16:33).” Believing parent, I plead with you, do not miss the moments at the Cross we can share with our young ones.
I will leave you with this, life is busy. Children are needy. Parenting is inconvenient. But in this whirlwind of the demands of life calling out to you, remember your calling. ” ‘Therefore I…beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” (New Living Translation, Ephesian 4:1-2).’
We can see Jesus in the dark, if we choose to look for Him.
Blessings, I hope to talk with you soon.