I did what I have often done. I listened as then eight-year-old, Natalie, read her book before bed. We said a prayer and then talked for a minute. On this particular night I said something to the effect, “I love you and if you ever have any problems, please tell me.”
“No, I’m fine,” she said.
Next night, same thing. Only this time she said, “I do have a problem.” My heart sank past my arthritic knee to my ankles.
“What is it?”
“I’ve had some bad dreams,” she said.
You see, some of our friends had their house broken into twice, and Natalie had some bad dreams about that. I reassured her that we are safe, the doors are locked, etc. I told her that almost all break-ins happen during the day when no one is home. She then reminded me that those same friends also discovered someone in the bushes outside their home—at night. I could quickly tell that I was losing that argument, so I figured the best I could do was to give her a hug and try to make her feel secure.
A few weeks later, same routine. Only this time, it was the night before her class at school was having ice cream as an end of the year party. I said, “How about some sweet dreams about ice cream?” The next morning, sure enough, “What did you dream about?”
“Ice cream with sprinkles,” she said, with a smile.
What would you rather your kid dream about—break-ins or ice cream? It pained me to think that she was worried, as an eight-year-old, about break-ins. She was too young and innocent to have to worry about such stuff. I also worried I had not been reassuring enough to her about our home security. I think she knows that none of us are, and no home is, completely safe.
We parents often live with the illusion that we can keep our kids totally safe and that we are in complete control. Try as we might, we can’t protect our kids from everything. An angry tornado in Tennessee or a virus named Corona remind us that no home is completely immune from the forces of nature and no one is immune from disease.
No amount of hand sanitizer can protect our little ones from germs and viruses (though we should try with soap and masks) that we can’t even see. I’m pretty good at fighting things I can see, but that invisible stuff is hard to fight. We also can’t protect our kids from hurt, whether a skinned knee or a bruised ego from the playground.
Maybe we need to let go of them and let them live. And let’s have a little faith. Faith doesn’t mean that bad stuff (like hurricanes and break-ins) won’t happen. Faith means that you have chosen to live a certain way and, with God’s help, to deal with what comes your way.
“All things work together for good, to those who love God…” (Romans 8:28). Paul doesn’t say that all things are good. He says that all things (good or bad) work together for good. That’s where the faith comes in.
So, I’m hoping that my kid and yours have more dreams about ice cream than break-ins—and with sprinkles on top.