We have had a little visitor in our bed for the past several weeks. It is amazing that a twenty pound, two-year-old child can take up so much room and cause so much havoc in the middle of the night. We have never been the "family bed" type of parents so when this new sleeping situation began we treated as a battle to be won. We tried all different methods to get her to sleep in her own bed. None have worked. You see, she doesn't just cry an "I'm mad and I don't want to go to bed" cry. Her cries are cries of terror, fear, desperation, and loneliness. Her cries break your heart. They can't be ignored or "cried out". So, we have finally stopped viewing this as a battle to be won. Instead, it is an opportunity to earn her trust and strengthen our attachment.
As my view has changed so has my attitude. I find myself taking her to bed and using this time as a special bonding experience. I watch her for cues of what makes her happy or scared. We have seen the efforts of this new attitude pay off in our day to day life as Anna is much more securely attached and calm. We may be tired but things have improved significantly in our household. Being willing to see the world from her perspective and taking the time to show her the love and care she needs is making all the difference for her. And for us.
As much as things have improved, though, I still see signs that we have work to do. I noticed the other day as I was waiting for her to fall asleep for her nap that her eyes never completely shut and she would not roll away from me. Even as she was falling asleep she was keeping her eyes on me, making sure I didn't leave. Last night I couldn't sleep and I was able to notice that throughout the night, no matter what position she was in, there was always a little hand on me or a foot or even a whole little body curled up against me. She was making sure I was there. She needed to touch me, to feel my presence. This was such an overwhelming realization for me. To know that my presence makes such a difference to someone else made me feel an awesome responsibility to not let her down. Even though I wanted to get out of bed and go downstairs, I stayed there. The thought of a little foot searching for me in the dark and not finding me there made me stay. I didn't want to be the cause for one more feeling of abandonment in this little soul. I want to earn her trust so that someday she feels no need to have me physically beside her to know that I am really there for her.
As I was processing all of this I suddenly had such a clear picture of myself and my relationship with God. I am such the little girl who is always searching, reaching, hoping to feel His presence in my life. Even though He promised in Hebrews 13:5, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.", I am always questioning His trustworthiness. I can't tell you how many times I have cried out in the dark, "Please, God, I need to feel you! I need to know that you are really there! Please, show me your presence!".
What will it take for me to believe His promise that He is really there?
Really beside me?
Really worthy of my trust?
I was feeling so frustrated with myself for being so slow to learn, and then I felt this little hand reach out and touch my face. A little hand of a little person who spent months in an orphanage seeking someone to touch, someone to be there. A little person who knew the pain of disappointment and loneliness and abandonment. I felt such fierce desire to never disappoint that little person again. To show her that she could trust me to be there no matter what. To fill her life with so much love that she would never question her self-worth.
And in that moment I knew, without a doubt, that I have a God who is looking at me with that same fierce desire. He wants me to know that He is there. He wants me to trust Him even when I can't see Him or feel Him. He wants me to believe that He is worthy of my trust and I am worthy of His love. He knows that this world has robbed me of my innocense and the ability to trust freely and He is there, patiently showing up and waiting it out.
And in that moment I felt overwhelming love.
To love and be loved. It should be so easy. Why do we make it so hard?