Today was picture day at my children's daycare. (The best day for an injury, right?) On the way to the bathtub our two-year-old fell backward and hit his head on the corner of our dresser. Ouch! Lots of blood and tears ensued.
Thankfully my step-daughter works in a doctor's office and stopped by on her way to work. "Bring him in and the doctor will take care of it," she said. So, we loaded up and headed to the doctor's office.
Of course by this time the two-year-old was no longer crying...but he soon would be. First came a topical ointment to deaden the area for the shots to deaden it for the stitches. See why more tears were soon to flow?
By the time we got to the actual stitches we had an unhappy two-year-old. For the first stitch I held him on my lap, cuddling him close while strategically keeping control of his arms and legs. His father held his head still. His sister handed the doctor what he needed while trying to be a voice of comfort to the two-year-old. The doctor...well, he worked his magic on a still squirming head.
One stitch done...one to go.
Suddenly something amazing happened. The brilliant big sister handed the two-year-old a cookie as a reward for being brave. And guess what? He sat up on my lap and ate his cookie while the doctor put in stitch number two much more easily and quickly...the two-year-old not even seeming to notice.
Here's what I learned. Sometimes all we do to try to take away the pain and comfort the children isn't the right thing. Sometimes they just need to find their own source of comfort. Sometimes they need to be surrounded by love but not squeezed by it.
Then it occured to me. Ah, I believe God teaches this, too. God...the ever present one who gives us freedom to turn toward or away from God's own self. God...the one who loves us more than we can imagine but does not contain us or trap us with that love.
Sometimes we need to learn a lesson from a cookie (and from God) about letting our children find their own way through pain even as we are present with them.