My Samjam is a pretty tough nugget. I've dropped him, tripped over him, accidentally bonked him in the face with my knee - and he doesn't really mind too much. Physical pain? He can handle that.
But add a hint of animosity to the slightest touch, and he will wail at full-volume, with crocodile tears and drool and chest-heaving incoherence. It's not the pain he can't handle, but the possibility of malice.
When he's naughty and I put him in timeout, if I'm angry at all, he will shriek "owwww!" There isn't any pain to protest, but the anger - that's what hurts. If his sister accidentally steps on his toes, he doesn't even blink (well, she is a featherweight ;)), but if she is angry at him and stomps her foot and accidentally steps on his toes, he will burst into a torrent of sobs.
I've discovered lately that if I hold him close and look into his eyes and say "I love you and I care that you're hurting, Sam," the sobs will instantly stop. That's all he needs to know - that I care. Then he can bear the timeout, or whatever is causing him to cry.
Because that's the thing about love - when we know we're loved, we can bear almost anything.
I've been reading in the book of Daniel lately, and was struck with the phrasing used to comfort him. Daniel was a man of great faith and courage and he did not fear the punishments of the king, even to being tossed in a den of lions. But when God sent him visions, he was terrified and did not understand. He fell down on his face in sheer fear.
God sent the angel Gabriel to speak to him, and I would have expected him to say something like this: "O Daniel, remember that you are a man of great faith. Trust in God and fear not." Which would have been true, and reasonable. But what he actually said?
"O Daniel, man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage."(Daniel 10:19)
Greatly loved! That's the first thing, the first comfort - you are loved. Don't fear. Rest easy. Be courageous. You are loved.
Brothers, sisters - we are loved. Love bears all things. And perfect love - God's love - casts out fear. How can we fear anything when the deep underneath-it-all glad truth is that He loves us?
I've been feeling like a bad mom, like a failure - comparing myself to other (good, yes!) moms who do things differently from me. I'm not the organic mom, the homeschool mom, the cloth-diaper mom, the Pinterest mom. I'm not even the successful-potty-training mom.
But I am Sam and Vava's mom, and God assures me that I am indeed a good mom doing His good work. When I tell myself I'm a bad mom, I'm just speaking fear and lies - I'm not resting in Him. I'm not courageous.
These words to Daniel burst on my heart like a river, a sunrise. You are greatly loved. Fear not. I don't want to raise my kids as a mom who can't see past her own fear. No. I want to trust that God has called me, chosen me, set this task in my hands. He has given me what I need to complete it well. And when I find myself bowed, stricken with my own sense of inadequacy, howling crocodile tears like my tender-hearted Sam, I will listen to these words.
"At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved." (Daniel 9:23)
I don't know what your week has in store for you, but I want to write this in blazing, sure letters on your trembling heart.
You are loved. Fear not. Rest easy. Be courageous. You are loved.