The worst types of illnesses for little ones seem to be tummy related. Those unpleasant issues mixed with a “snuffy” nose –as it has always so been called in our house because of the large burnt orange elephant off of Sesame Street- make for long days and even longer nights in the life of the parents of a child who has “come down with something.” With no ability care for or tend to their own needs, it seems that at these times they just leak all over, and occasionally erupt from one place or another.
I remember feeling helpless in those early years with my first child, burning up with fever, crying nonstop. All ability to soothe her misery seemed futile. Cycling through the motions of rocking to swaying to walking, hour upon hour we together would find only pockets of sleep to ease our weariness. My sweet husband, seeing how miserable she was and how exhausted we both were stood idly by wishing that there was something he could do to help either one of us but settled in the knowledge we had previously learned; when the baby was sick she wanted her mama-no one else would do.
Occasionally we would find merciful respite when the medicine would kick in and ease her symptoms enough that she could rest. Knowing that to lay her in her crib would be self defeating due to the prior explained snuffiness, gently positioning her upon my chest I would lay my head back against the recliner. In what seemed like only moments we would both be awakened by a snot induced cough that would trigger her gag reflex causing her to vomit.
At these times I would have to hand her off to her father in order to clean up. When out of my arms her crying immediately escalated from a tempered “I am so miserable why is this happening to me?” steady cry, to an all out raging scream.
Every second I could see her reaching her arms out to me calling my name “Mama”, “Mama” through her tears seemed like a painful eternity to my heart. I longed to hold her and bring her the comfort she needed and desired. .
In these times I never even considered how my daughter’s illness would impact me. Would I catch what she had? Would I be puked on, snotted on, and potentially worse? Probably so; it didn’t matter. All I could think about when she was holding her arms out for my comfort was how very much I loved her and how I longed to give her the comfort that she desired. My heart hurt because she hurt.
As a child of God there have been seasons when very much like my sick little girl my own heart symptoms have been unlovely. I was happy to run to God when I felt strong and obedient but in my moments of weakness, disobedience and un-loveliness, those times when in truth I needed God the most, I would withdraw my heart from Him because I did not feel worthy of His love and forgiveness.
I had to learn that I am not a better parent than my Lord. When we are weak and needy, it is in these times that our Father longs to be the comfort that we need. He doesn’t see us after our faults and weakness, but instead, no matter how unlovely we seem, always with the heart of a loving parent. When we hurt, He hurts for us. Mercy and compassion abound toward His children, especially in our times of weakness.
Father, thank you, that even in our weakest moments as we draw near to you, you draw near to us.