The Holding One
She had been crying for what seemed like 30 minutes. So much so, she was completely inconsolable.
As she melted into my lap, I was finally able
to draw from her what was behind the tears.
"I don't want to go to Heaven, Mommy. I don't want to leave you or Daddy or my sissies or my baby brother."
She was so adamant about not going to Heaven, that she had worked herself into a hysteria. So, we talked. And talked. And talked some more. We called Grandma, who blessed her with the most beautiful description of all.
Yet, she was still visibly upset. No matter what she already knew and had previously talked about, at three years-old, she was far too young to understand the entirety of it. And my attempts at consoling her with my own words were doing nothing to calm her precious heart.
She understands Jesus. But, she still felt this overwhelming fear. Just like so very many of us.
We know He is there, yet those moments of panic, anxiety and lies can become incredibly overwhelming, no matter what age. And more often than not, there we find ourselves, fear trumping faith, once again.
This beloved baby? She hadn't had enough worldly experience. But it was such a strong example of just such an instance.
Sitting there with her on my lap, and at a complete loss, I quickly tried to put myself in her shoes. Seeing is believing for her age. Colors. Shapes. Books. Pictures. Something handcrafted by someone else just as young and innocent; yet who could portray a much more welcoming way to share the gift of Heaven.
So, I did the only thing that came to mind. I quickly Googled "kid-drawn pictures of Heaven." Anything I could think of to ease her sweet, fearful thoughts. Thousands of images popped up on the computer screen, and I slowly scrolled through dozens of photos with her. Drawings filled with beautiful, uncanny colors.
And everything...happy and glorious.
She chewed on her fingers as she quietly observed. Smiling at some; calmly absorbing others.
Until then she finally spoke up.
A quiet, hopeful whisper:
"Look at that one, Mommy."
There were no rainbows.
No rays of sunshine.
No vibrant colors.
Just a drawing of Jesus. Holding a precious baby.
"I like that one, " she told me. "That's Jesus!" I exclaimed. "Remember, He made you!"
A half-smile crept across her composed face.
"And you know what else, precious girl? He let YOU pick ME, before you were even born. Isn't that amazing? You see, we already met...in Heaven."
Her huge, caramel eyes looked up at me with the most enthralled, childlike contentment I had seen in a long time.
"Really, baby girl. That is totally true. I prayed SO hard for you. And Jesus let you pick me."
As our conversation ended, and her tears dried up, I asked her once more which picture of Heaven was her very favorite.
"The Holding One."
Here were all these absolutely striking drawings of Heaven, and she found the one that offered her the most comfort.
"The Holding One."
We printed that picture. Full page. Full color. And she carried it everywhere for days. She told everyone about our conversation.
As parents, we try so unbelievably hard to instill within our precious babies the true meaning of faith; which ultimately means believing without seeing. But, at three-years-old, hearing was not enough. She needed to see. To refresh her belief. Not so far-fetched from ourselves, as adults. When we find ourselves in request-filled prayer. For a tangible sign. For something "seen". As we lose sight of our faith.
How many moments in your time on Earth have you let fear overtake your faith because you thought you were deep within one of life's unexpected trenches, all alone? Such an incredibly desolate feeling. Sparking uneasiness and unsteadiness in our lives. And to be completely honest, a lifelong battle with anxiety has left me feeling this way far more than I ever care to admit.
Yet, when those anxious, hesitant feelings come pouring into our own lives, it's as simple as this beautifully bittersweet lesson from a three-year-old. Holding dear to our imagery of God.
Finding that encouraging, faith-filled visual, and carrying it with you. In your heart. In your mind. In your soul.
And forever embracing the truth that both faith and fear require you to believe in something you cannot see. Because, when we choose faith, we draw from an inherent, soulful strength that will continue to carry us over the tallest mountains, through the deepest valleys and straight into the comfort of His forever-open and waiting arms...
...of "The Holding One".