It seems to be that the nights I need the most sleep are the nights I can’t seem to rest. I awake and toss and turn and can’t get comfortable. I’ll surrender to my body and decide that God must want to hang out with me because the middle of the night is usually the best time for such a thing. Apparently.
The other night was such a restless night, and with my 4:00am attitude, I got out of bed and went to the living room to read and pray. However, I discovered the body of my big boy curled up on the couch asleep.
Tommy has been having bad dreams lately and tells me that he is afraid of the dark. He doesn’t like to come to us when he wakes up and feels scared because he thinks the walk from his room to ours is dark and too scary. No amount of nightlights and prayers have seemed to help, so he finds solace on the sofa because the living room feels less threatening than his own for some reason.
My heart ached when I saw his little four-year old self wrapped up in camo pajamas and his Spiderman blanket, clutching his old yellow bear, a vivid reminder of his innocence and youth. I gently woke him and tucked him back into bed. I kissed him on the cheek and told him he was safe and he could go back to sleep in his bed.
After I closed his door and sat down, I had tears for my boy. I thought about what it might be like to be four and to feel afraid. To feel like you have to find comfort on your own, because even though mom and dad are just down the hall, the walk there is too scary. It breaks my heart that he needs us in the middle of the night, and instead, he finds a way to take care of himself. He doesn’t ask for comfort or for help, or for another prayer and to be tucked in bed again with a reminder that he’s safe.
I can remember what it feels like to be little and small. I can remember feeling scared and confused and feeling like I was left on my own to take care of myself, to figure something out, to be my own source of comfort. There was little space for me emotionally and physically, especially to my mother. So I did what any child might do – I survived. I sought out my own places of comfort and solace. I calmed myself down when I was scared from a bad dream by repeating a phrase “When I am afraid I will trust in You (God)” over and over again until I could fall asleep again. The sound of my little voice in the dark made me not feel so alone. But ultimately, I decided what I needed wasn’t important and I would be fine without it.
Tommy was a reminder to me of where I was once little and in need of comfort. At some point along the way, I found comfort in food, and in sweet things especially. It was how I comforted and cared for myself. It is still a place I attempt to comfort and care for my soul. Though now I often make other choices like bubble baths or conversations with a friend or writing or going for a walk. But sometimes, a bowl of ice-cream or a chocolate chip cookie fresh out of the oven can feel like the kind of comfort I’m needing too.
It’s been a whole week since the beginning of Lent. It’s been a whole week without soda and dessert and chocolate and all of the sweet things I enjoy so much. I’ve mostly been grouchy and have seemed to forget that I wanted to do this in the first place. I might give my left arm for a single chocolate chip cookie.
Today, I’m thinking about comfort. I am remembering the places in my childhood where comfort was lacking and what I did to seek it out. I am looking at my heart and how I know this is a place where I have rarely sought God’s heart. I go to Him and I go to Him for many things – but rarely, maybe even never, for comfort.
Before bed last night, I reminded Tommy that if he woke up and He felt scared in the middle of the night, he could come to us. That it was okay to wake us up and that we were here if he felt scared. I couldn't ignore that small still voice that left me with the same invitation. You can come to me too my child. I'm here. I can give you rest.
I wonder what might happen if I went running down the hall to God when I'm in need of comfort - even if the way there is a little dark and scary. I'm curious what might happen if I stop resisting His comfort. And what I might discover about His heart if I could embrace Him as a comforter. My comforter.