One night, we had a full house with lots of noise. It was getting late, and predictably the tinies were falling into an abyss of overstimulation and whining. My eldest started to lose her composure, melting into a puddle of unmet preschooler expectations. I took her to her room for a bit of quiet and relief (for us both, I imagine).
She looked up at me and said, with a sob-hiccup, "Mummy, would you tell me to calm my heart?" I placed my hand on her chest and did just that. She took a shaky breath and said, "I need my heart to be calm." "Me, too, kiddo," I said.
Another night, she kept getting out of bed. The reasons became more and more fantastical: I need water and this doll baby is keeping me up and my Band-Aid wants a friend. I marched her back to bed with my Mum-Means-Business voice and manner. She burrowed into her sheets. Asked for kisses. And then she said, “Mum, I know what’s wrong. My heart is just not calm. Will you pray with me?” So I did.
We prayed together, I put my hand on her chest, and we said it together, slowly: "Calm your heart." She took a big breath and said, "That calmed my heart right down, Mum. I think I can sleep now." And she did.
The funny thing about the simple and basic things is that they are true. If it’s true for a toddler, it’s probably true for most of us. It’s true that I need to go to bed at a reasonable hour, and I need to pray, and I need to eat real food, and I need to share, and I need to make time to rest.
It’s true that I need to make quality decisions, and I need to use my words to love people. It’s true that I need to guard my gates from lies and evil and fear. And when storms and frustrations come, when I am suffering—imagined or real—when I am whiny or overstimulated or just plain ornery, when I am angry and feeling unsafe, when I am panicking and my heart is pounding and I can’t seem to get through the cloud of anger and fear and scarcity, I need to take a deep breath and I need someone to physically be present with me and I need someone to kneel on the kitchen floor, deep breathing, and I need to calm my heart to begin again, all over again.
Sarah Bessey is a wife, mama of three tinies, a writer, popular blogger and happy-clappy Jesus lover. She lives in Abbotsford, British Columbia. She is the author of Jesus Feminist (Howard Books). You can read more of her work at SarahBessey.com.
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