My daughter has night terrors. Screaming every hour, not fully awake, not fully asleep, all night long kind of nightmares. If I didn’t have them myself, I would have lost my mind by now. It’s been nearly five years (save a few nights where grandparents have graciously taking a night shift) since I’ve had an uninterrupted night of sleep.
The only thing that I can do for her when these happen, is quickly pull her onto my chest, her ear pressed into my heartbeat. My heartbeat (or her Papa’s) is the only grounding, comforting thing in times of great distress. We’ve become used to the crushing weight on top of us, the blond hair tickling our noses as she clings like a starfish to our arms and wait for her heartbeat to slow to ours. Sometimes it only takes once. Sometimes it’s all night long, our arms growing weary by daybreak.
Laying there this morning, her head pressed firmly up by my throat, I thought about how much smarter she is than me. She knows who to go to when she cannot handle what life is throwing at her- she knows to look for her parents, to find our heartbeat, to attune hers to ours. She knows we will rescue her, protect her, shield her from harm. She knows we will never turn her away, saying we were finally too tired to accommodate her. She will return as many times as necessary until she gets what she needs.
I do not pursue my Father God in that way. Still not fully believing He will rescue me, that He loves me, that He won’t turn me away. Sometimes, I do little to attune my heart to His and then am surprised when I do not feel comforted. How can He comfort me when I don’t spend time with Him? Don’t you need to be WITH a person in order to be comforted by them? If I were Ellie, I would have given up by now. Believed the worst. That this was how my life will always be, and there is no help for me.
But I do not believe that for her. Nor does she.
That’s why she still comes with her cries and her sweaty head and her wild eyes. She still comes and clings.
I need to do the same.