My kids are both great sleepers. We have our occasional nighttime disturbances, and since the summer rolled around with incredibly long evenings it's harder to get Sam to come inside and go to sleep, but on the whole, they do really well.
A few weeks ago, Vava woke up shrieking in her room around 11pm. Nothing would soothe her, and any movement toward her bed started her howling again.
It was awful.
We tried a lot of different things - rocked her, snuggled her, sang to her. We brought her into our bed, crawled into her crib, and prayed for her, with her, over her - but nothing seemed to make a difference. Sleep was elusive, and Patrick and I divided the nights in two in order to get a little sleep. We finally tried moving her bed into Sam's room. His presence was the comfort she needed - a few kisses, songs, and bedtime prayers sent her off to sleep 12 hours in a row again.
She has adored that lovey since she was three weeks old. Sam bonded with Monkey when he was six months, but for Vava there has only ever been Zebra. We've got a smelly, fuzzy little zoo in tow wherever we go.
I woke up in the middle of the night a week ago.
I listened, but couldn't hear any kids fussing or crying. They were both sound asleep in Sam's room, arms wrapped around their precious loveys, safe and secure.
I laid in bed, grateful and content for the stillness, the peace.
And God, like He often does, used that quiet time to speak to my heart.
I was thinking about those loveys. Bits of stuffing and fuzz, ratty and worn and probably more full of germs than I care to acknowledge. They don't have any monetary value, but if our house was on fire and everybody was safe, I would grab Monkey and Zebra before I snagged anything else.
They don't have any value in themselves, but to Sam and Vava they're tangible comfort. They're familiar. They fit cozily into a toddler snuggle, and they're always soft and gentle. Giving our kids loveys to cuddle is one of the age-appropriate ways we teach them the value of tenderness and the comfort of a hug.
Really, though, their safety and security comes from us. If Monkey and Zebra happened to be lost, Sam and Vava would still be loved and cuddled and kept safe. Patrick and I care for them and meet their needs, we protect them from harm and comfort their distress. We lock the door, install carseats, dress them in snowsuits, feed them, give them lots to drink, play with them, teach them, listen to them, guide them, hold them, kiss them ... you get the idea. Their loveys are tangible reminders that they are loved, but their loveys don't keep them safe and secure. We do.
And this is when God showed me that I'm an awful lot like my kids.
He gives me tangible reminders that He loves me. Things I love, things I bond with, things I value.
Things like my beautiful Nova Scotia, my wise & graceful mama, my loving dad. My sisters, my brother, my nieces and nephew. My Nana's soft accent, my cousin's gift for making me laugh, the heart-grabbing scent of rain on stone. The good opinion of people I respect. Fairness. My Patrick. My Sam, my Vava.
And sometimes it's really easy for me to forget that these are all reminders, grace-proofs of Love, and I want to hold them closer and insist I deserve them and call them MINE and forget that my safety and security doesn't come from my family, my home, my reputation. But that's idolatry. They do not, apart from God, give me safety and security and joy. God does.
They are my loveys. I treasure them and value them, because they make my heart ring with Love. But I must never confuse them with Him.
If they were all swept away and I was cast alone on a sunless, sealess planet, I would be no less safe. I would be no less secure. I would be no less loved.
I would be no less loved.
I want to write that in the sky and spangle it with stars, so that every aching heart can trust the Lover, even when all the loveys are lost.
Sometimes Sam and Vava misplace Monkey or Zebra, and oh, the drama! Everything stops while we turn the world upside down until we find them. Their reunion can only be described as rapturous.
finding Monkey and Zebra. I love knowing that Sam and Vava have cozy
proof of loving parents to carry around with them. It gives me the
deepest pleasure to know that they are aware that they are safe and
secure and treasured. But it would hurt if they grew up believing that
their home, nourishment, education, safety, clothing, and pleasure were
all provided by Monkey and Zebra. And it would be weird. And wrong.
And they'd need a lot of counseling.
Because the loveys only point to the Lovers.
I've been writing down ten gifts every day, ten little things I find that whisper I LOVE YOU, ten little proofs of God's love in my life. And it's never hard to find ten. They abound. And one of the beautiful side-gifts in looking for these ten is that I start to see something beyond the gifts. I catch little glimpses of the Giver. And His heart is sure. His love is steadfast. He is good. He is good. He is good. His plan may involve things that are hard, but His plan is always for my good and His glory ... and He delights in giving to me.
So I want to hold my loveys close, I want to treasure them, but not as idols. I want to rest in the safety and security they remind me of, the true safety and security of being His.
With or without my loveys.