Why was she afraid of going anywhere that the door could latch shut?
Did that one time she got accidentally locked in the bathroom upstairs really equate to crying in the dressing room at JCPenney’s because she was worried we’d get stuck there?!
“What if we can’t get out?!!”
I wasn’t sure why my child worried, but many times she reminded me of myself. She had a tendency to overreact and definitely was oversensitive in most matters. From an early age I had noticed she cried about something as simple as a shoe not going on right, but she hadn’t really outgrew it like I thought she would. I came to realize she was my special, sensitive, and sometimes anxious child that required a different kind of approach when it came to parenting.
As we walked into the large hall at the church my seven year old ran excitedly ahead to greet her friends. My toddler tugged at my hand eager to taste the display of sweet treats, but I sensed the anxiety immediately. I turned quickly behind me where my middle daughter stood a mere two steps behind me, and immediately I caught the overwhelmed fear on her face. She was only seconds away from crying, and I scooped her up quickly into my one open arm. I carried my crew to an empty corner and started to speak to my frightened four year old.
“Is it the crowd? Are you scared?” I asked.
She nodded confirmation with unspilled tears in her eyes, and I immediately worked to calm her anxious heart.
“You don’t have to be afraid. I’m here. And Jesus is always with you,” I explained. And then we prayed together.
Within minutes she was fine, and that’s always how it was. She ran around excitedly with the other children. She laughed, she sang, she danced. She played and ate cookies. She was fear and anxiety free for the rest of the evening. I watched with pride as she smiled brilliantly, albeit shyly at the festivities. She was my beautiful, brilliant girl. Her heart was bigger than Texas, and she loved people with an enormous, unconditional love. But sometimes she was anxious. It was hard for us both.
Long ago I realized my baby was special, more so than just the typical “my kid is awesome kinda thing.” I think God made her a particular way because He has special plans for her life. Perhaps He made her sensitive so she could better relate to the tender and hurting parts of others. Sometimes I see her thoughtfully watching people and I’m certain this is true. When the idea of this post was floating around in my head I paused mid-thought at the sound of my girl across the house. I could hear the water running in the bathroom, and I could hear her tiny, musical voice carry through the hall. She was talking to one of her toys again, I assumed, seeing she had always been an imaginative, independent player. I walked up to the bathroom and heard her speaking from inside.
I don’t want anything for Christmas, God, but all the people to be happy.
I love you, God, more than money or anything you can buy.
I walked back into the living room without interrupting her little conversation, smiling as I sat down on the couch. I prayed for that child a lot, that is certainly true. Heck, a lot of the time I simply prayed for my own sanity dealing with it all. But mostly I prayed to be just the mother she needed. I figured God gave her specifically to me for a reason, and despite the challenges I certainly didn’t want to mess it up. So I frequently prayed for wisdom that God would show me exactly the best way to parent this special little star. Sometimes she freaked out big over little things, but other times she loved the little things bigger than I had ever seen.
*While I might experience some silent judgement or even unloving advice from some for this post, I wrote it in a sharing mode with the hope that my situation might make someone else with an anxious child feel less alone. I hope that you too can see the special calling the Lord has for your child. May we all raise them to the best of our abilities, and cling to His strength for the rest.
This article originally appeared at BrieGowen.com.