A little while ago, a few apartments in our building suffered from a leaky toilet (thankfully, not ours!). The repairs that had to be made included tearing out and replacing drywall and insulation that were affected. From the common hallway, parts of the wall were exposed.
For a while, we couldn’t really pass by the area at all. The floor was soaked and, to dry out the area, the repair company had hooked up three large fans in the hallway. The hum was pretty audible for a few nights, even with our door closed. Every time we walked out, there the machines sat, and the toddler did not like them. She used to run down the hallway by herself, but now she asked to be carried, even if we were heading away from the machines.
Jack and I would do our part, reassuring her and reminding her that we were there. She picked up on this quickly. A few days after the machines were installed, we were getting dressed to go outside and the toddler looked up at me:
R: 唔使驚 (No need to be afraid).
Me: 點解唔使驚 ? (Why don’t you need to be afraid?)
R: 媽咪抱住你. (Mom carries you [me]).(We’re still working on pronouns.)
And just like that, she headed outside, waited for me to lock the door, and lifted her arms up to be carried. Since then, I’ve caught her multiple times telling herself not to be afraid, because she knows Mum and Dad will be right there.
Although I’ve spent a lot of this past year reading up on homeschooling approaches, thinking about what I can do for my toddler’s education, the funny thing is that she’s taught me more lessons than I could have possibly imagined before she was born. Even more surprising are the lessons she’s taught me about God. The Bible calls God the Father and likens God’s heart for His people to that of a mother, but having only a child’s perspective on parents meant that my previous understanding of God as a parent was limited. Very limited. But I now understand this verse much better.
Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.Matthew 18:3. NIV.
That is, faith, and a relationship with Christ, is in many ways like a child throwing themselves into the arms of their parent. The expectation that the parent will carry them is what gives the child safety, security, and courage. (Of necessity is the note that although God is our parent, He does not reflect our earthly parents. For those with trauma in their past or abusive relationships, this analogy can be much harder to grasp. I have no such experience, but even so, as much as my parents have done their best to raise me right by God, I do not cast God in their image. Rather, I see now that my parents reflected many aspects of God into my life.)
I also found connection in a recent devotion. When I first came back from China, I realized that I had somehow developed a fear of losing my loved ones in some sudden accident. When I came across a verse from Psalms, I thought that this meant that I had nothing to worry about:
[Those saved by God] will have no fear of bad news;
Their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.Psalm 112:7. NIV.
But what I’ve realized almost a year and a half later is that this verse isn’t an assurance that nothing bad will happen to me just because I’m a Christian. Mishaps can fall on anyone, really. What I understand now is that, similar to my toddler, I need not fear the frightening things, not because they do not exist or will not happen, but because God is there to carry me through.
Interestingly, my toddler decided to teach me about faith around the same time I was reading Ravi Zacharias’ book, Why Jesus? He writes this:
God meets us in the most unexpected places, just as we lose him in the least expected places… These are startling reminders that we are talking about a person and a relationship, not a place and an idea.Zacharias, R. (2012). Why Jesus?: Rediscovering his truth in an age of mass marketed spirituality. FaithWords.
So I am thankful, thankful, thankful. Not only for my child, but also for the lessons her presence teaches me about my Father, the same God whose presence allows me to say that I will not be afraid, because God will carry me through.