I was deep in thought one day when my kids were very young. I think Josh was barely 3 and Meg was still a baby.
I was worrying and fretting over a conversation I had with someone which went really, really poorly. I was being honest and truthful, but the other person reacted in a way which was unexpected. She got really mad at me. The thought of someone really important being angry at me about something I said weighed heavily on my heart. I kept replaying our conversation over and over, wishing for a different outcome. I also continued to rehearse what I should have said and what I will say the next time I had an encounter with her. I knew I was right about my convictions about the matter — which, today more than a decade later, I cannot clearly recall what — but still, I was fearful.
Fearful of letting somebody down.
Fearful of having someone upset with me.
Josh must have sensed that something was amiss. I was not my usual cheerful self…or at least as cheerful as I usually try to be with only a few hours of sleep a night. Maybe that’s the reason why this little tiff had turned into a major relational nightmare in my foggy, sleep-deprived mind.
As I mindlessly folded the laundry on my bed, Josh crawled up to join me. He was never a really talkative child. Even today, as a teenager, he still tends to be a young man of a few words. He sat and watched me sigh between each piece of clothing that I folded. He handed me mismatched socks to pair up.
Josh had always been a sensitive and sympathetic child. When he was in the church nursery and another baby was crying, he would always crawl over and try to console, usually by patting its back. Someone’s pain becomes his own. He is still a good listener, and he says that he wants to become a clinical psychologist or a therapist someday. He can read people using his senses…his sixth sense, mostly.
I put the pile of laundry aside and sat down on the bed. I wanted to get comfortable so I could really focus on rehashing the incident yet again. And again. You know, it takes a lot of energy to continue picking on your emotional scabs!
Suddenly, Josh ambled over the pile of laundry towards me. He patted my back and said these words which I will never forget:
“Don’t be afwaid, mommy. Don’t be afwaid.”
Don’t be afraid? How did he know that I was afraid? My little 3 year-old was reminding me in his little toddler way these words from the book of Isaiah:
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
How did he know this? And how did he know that I needed to hear that statement at that very moment? Did I ever tell him that there is nothing to fear? I couldn’t recall if I had ever said those words to him myself, but somehow he knew in his heart that those were the words Mommy needed right there and then.
I knew right away that God was speaking to me through the mouth of my own babe, my toddler son Josh. It was indeed exactly what I needed to hear, for I was starting to fear the failure of this relationship more than anything in life. I was reminded that there truly is nothing to fear in this world, certainly not if God is with me.
From that moment on, my fear of disappointing a person began to slowly melt away. In fact, it took several months and a lot of work to repair, but this relationship has been restored and has gotten even better now than ever. It was also the beginning of my journey to tackle my people-pleasing nature which had dragged me down for far too long. I also began to lean on God for his strength and to trust Him in all areas of my life. Instead of wasting my emotional energy fretting and worrying, I learned to relinquish everything to the Lord in prayer.
And it only took a toddler’s sweet words to teach me that lesson.
“Don’t be afwaid, mommy.”
Has God ever spoken to you through your children? Tell me about it in the comments below!