On Friday morning at breakfast I noticed a big, red raspberry on the inside of Anna’s arm, and for the first time since becoming her mama, I didn’t know when and how the injury occurred.
While Anna seemed just fine that morning–not even a bandaid request!– the red and oozy sore just about broke my heart. She’d fallen, and I hadn’t been there to pick her up.
Our little girl started preschool a few weeks ago. It’s only two mornings a week at a little Christian school about five minutes from our house, and for the most part I love our new routine. On Tuesday and Thursday mornings a babysitter comes to our house to watch Owen, while I drive Anna to school and then continue on to Starbucks so I can work for a few hours. On our short drive, with just the two of us in the car, I like to pray for her day.
While she looks out the window, I ask God to help her have fun, to teach her a love for learning and how to be kind. I also ask God to keep her safe.
Every time I pray these words, “Lord, protect Anna today,” I wonder if it would be better to just say them to myself, as a whisper, so her spongey little brain won’t pick up on what I’m not saying: the world isn’t always a safe place, crazy bad freak accidents and horrible evils happen daily across our world, and kids say and do the meanest of things.
At MOPS on Friday morning, lovely Becca gave a beautiful introduction to our theme for the year: Be You Bravely. As part of the year’s kick-off, she told a story about being bullied as a child, and how a few terrible words stuck with her for many years after. While listening to Becca’s story, it made me think about my own brave story (which I wrote about publicly for the first time last week on this popular blog.) As a child, I was teased and ridiculed, as many children are. Someday my own children may also be teased and I won’t be there to protect them. Even crazier? Depending on my children’s personalities, it’s possible I won’t even know that teasing or bullying took place.
I’ve been staring at Anna’s raspberry all weekend, and it’s now been rubbed raw and looks terrible. I’m still sad I don’t know what happened, but at least I know something did happen and she’s okay. These days, Anna’s red and raw injuries show up clearly on her skin. But they won’t always be so visible. Someday, inevitably, she will carry more internal wounds that external scars. Someday, someone, might say her crimped hair makes her looks like a cocker spaniel, or her ears look like Dumbo. If I’m lucky, maybe she’ll show me where it hurts and explain what happened. And other times, I will simply have to guess.
The more I look at Anna’s raspberry, the more I’m starting to wonder if my prayers for safety and protection aren’t exactly the words I want to be praying.
Bumps and bruises and heartaches in this life can’t be avoided. As Tim Keller said in a recent radio interview, all of us will face suffering at some point.
Almost three years ago, on a windy fall day in Sacramento, Jonathan was diagnosed with cancer. A few people asked how we could still believe in a good God if He allowed cancer to attack nice, kind people like my husband. But when I think back to that particularly stormy season in our life, I don’t question why God allowed the storm to hit, but I remember how he so faithfully held us through it. We weren’t safe, but we were protected.
Anna’s elbow will be all healed up by the time she heads back to preschool on Tuesday, but when I load her into her car seat and begin our short drive to school, I think I might change my prayer strategy. I’m starting to wonder what it would look like to pray that God would hold her, instead of protect her and I’m starting to wonder what it would look for me to loosen my tight grip, just a little bit, and trust that He can handle her pain and heartache even better than I can.
Letting go, even just a little, hurts. But I think it will hurt a little less if I place her sweet hands directly into the hands of One I trust most.