After a busy day of the zoo, we drove a few kilometers down the road to the missionary health institute to continue the next installment of our immunizations. I should have anticipated, with Lily’s continual inquiries, peaks into the ‘needle room’, and dialogue on 5 year old bravery that perhaps she was a tad anxious about the needles that were designated for her sparrow-muscled arms. She eagerly requested that mommy accompany her into the ‘treatment’ room to help her be brave. This,- I am afraid, was a ploy, my pride blinding the reality of the storm that was brewing. I was so proud to be the ‘selected’ parent, and my thoughts rested on how I could posture maternal confidence and comfort for the newly dubbed, “Lily the brave”. Lily’s name is called out into the waiting room,- she pauses, looks to me for assurance and walks with me to where the nurse is waiting. Then,- she, with eyes wide with fear, and hands to her mouth declares,- ” I am NOT getting any needles” and bolts. (now it was probably in this moment I should have realized I was the ‘selected parent’ not because of my superior care, but based solely on the calculation that I am slower and weaker than daddy) Maternal confidence and calm transforms instantaneously to applying my best effort of reasoning with a 5 year old needle phobic frantic child,- now quietly wailing,- holding with a white knuckled grip onto the reception desk. “Oh,- Lily, you saw mommy get her needles, and the boys,- look at the candy treat you will get,- you can be brave,- you just need 10 seconds of bravery, C’mon, you can do it.” I say ever so sweetly and convincingly in my estimation. She doesn’t budge,- actually, taking steps backwards,- the nurse adds additional commentary on how cool the snoopy bandaids will look… patience waning, I toughen up my approach. “C’mon Lil,- just a few seconds,- (not moving)…. do I need to get daddy to help you be brave? ( her little head shaking no….)….Sweetheart, I know you are scared,- but Mommy is going to count to 3,- “One….. two…. the three came out sounding a bit more frazzled than intended and quite less maternal than the one and two… THREE!” And instinctually, out flings my arms to catch Lily in the act of running from the treatment room (into the waiting room, which has been privy to the drama of the entire encounter). Thankfully here were only two near-escapes with flailing arms and kicking legs as I drag Lily to the ‘chair’ where the nurse waits with her three needles lined up ever so neatly on the table. We sit down,- well, I sit, while cinching down every appendage of a wiggly daughter, while the nurse kindly suggests that ‘maybe we can do this a little later?’ Umm,- I think it would be best if we continue to proceed I say shakily through the breaks in the hysterical screams, realizing that the smell of palpable fear is only getting stronger by the second. Three needles later and moments filled with ear piercing screams and cries as if closet monsters were feasting upon her, Lily emerges with her bandaids, TWO candy bars and crocodile tears streaming down her face to a waiting room of pale children awaiting their turn to be brave.
I see so much of myself in Lily. I sympathize with her fear and realize that if she were purely a rational being, avoid of passion and emotion that I could simply have argued that it is much better to endure a little poke than to chance getting rabies in the outback of Kenya. Lily, come to me,- it will be ok!, I will hold you, I love you- the pain will be over soon and is for your good! Yet,- in that moment, when her fear takes over, she is beyond reasoning. I am not too far off from “Lily the brave”. Often I find myself afraid, caught in the middle of internal conversations with my heavenly Father reminding me to come to Him while facing the ‘hard to trust’ moments. I am white knuckling the counter top backing away from a God who wants the best for me. And yet he perseveres in His love for me. He doesn’t take away those things that may hurt, but will be to my benefit (lessons of patience and trust) just as, I could not, in good conscience spare Lily from the pain of the needles to chance leaving her vulnerable to greater illness if she is not immunized…. He doesn’t spare me, but yet He comforts me. These past few weeks as I grow restless with the details of all that needs to get done, all that must come together,- I have heard the quiet echoes of “Come to me”.
I love the simple call of Jesus to the weary: “Come to Me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest”. As if He knows that in the midst of your burden, at the point of exhaustion, at the end of your efforts all you have left in you is to fall into the arms of the Saviour. In the past, I have seemed to misinterpret that call of Jesus. He says, “Come to me…. and I will give you rest. In my interpretation, I translated: If you get all your work done- I will give you rest. If you have everything figured out- I will give you rest. If you plan a contingency for every possible problem- I will give you rest. How gracious is our God that simply allows us, invites us, longs for us to come to Him, knowing that we offer Him nothing except that we have turned from our foolish selves, our limited efforts, our little lives, to be held, to fall into and find rest in the great arms of the Saviour.