Words I never dreamed I’d hear in all my twenties or thirties, I now enjoy from time to time in my late forties. But they often have come at a painful cost.
“Mommy, just snuggle me.” Blink, blink.
My shoulders dropped while a smile rose across my face. The request came with laundry in my hands, bills in my head, and work beckoning from the kitchen table. No one has to tell me that these days are fleeting. Nor do I ever lose sight of the fact that her birth was a late-in-life, off-the-charts blessing.
But realistically, I had things to do, places to go, people to meet, and a mountain of things to catch up on. So I wrestled for a long minute or two.
“Honey? ONLY if you can promise not to whack me in the ribs, stab me with your toes, or break my nose with the back of your head. I thought for sure my nose was gonna bleed the last time we snuggled and you bonked me so hard.” I’ve acquired some war wounds from past snuggle times.
“Well mommy, you told me not to make promises, but I’ll be still. I just need to snuggle awhile.” I sighed and surrendered happily.
I plopped the laundry on the carpet and crawled in bed next to my daughter. I took a picture of her joy and set the phone on silent. Then she grabbed my right arm, yanked it around her tiny torso and scooted backwards until she was tucked cozy into my shape.
“Maddie? Remember…just lie still and only for a little bit. I’ve got a lot to catch up on.” She immediately stopped and all was quiet. I didn’t realize “sleep” was the biggest thing I needed to catch up on and in seconds I was dreaming. That is, until her loud whisper yanked me out of stage 2 sleep.
“Mommy! I can feel your heart beat.” She whispered. She pushed herself harder back into me and repeated, “I can actually feel your heart beat! Shhhhh!”
She’s telling me to be quiet? We lay still for quite a while, but she never squirmed or wiggled, talked or giggled. She found the value of stillness…safe in my love and being held, feeling my heart beat against the back of her own. She’d never felt it before because even when lying down, she could never seem to quiet her mind or body.
As I thought about that, I realized the correlation. Except it was the Lord Who I sensed was inviting me to slow down and snuggle into His rest. To quiet my heart and mind and find the safety and peace that comes from stillness with Him. I had been moving so fast. My thoughts often flailed like my daughters elbows and instead of gripping His arm and sensing it pulled around me (Song 2:6), I had been restless, anxious and insecure.
After the laundry was finished, floors vacuumed, and dishes put away, I sat down next to Maddie as she finished her drawing. I thought it was a bunny, but was instantly corrected about her canine. Then I noticed the bandaid over its heart.
“What happened to the puppy’s heart? Is it wounded?” I asked.
“Well that’s weird.” She answered. “I don’t remember drawing that! But I like it.” She started to hum and put finishing touches on the dog’s feet.
The Lord’s words can come so subtly that I miss them often times. But I was weary and the impressions in my thoughts were unmistakably His.
“Shannon, I always know what’s going on in your heart. You need Me to cover some fresh wounds…why don’t you quiet your soul and press into My Presence with effort. You’ll find the value of sensing my heartbeat next to your own.”
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” ~ James 4:8a
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.” ~ Hebrews 10:22a
I didn’t have to physically lay down later that night, but I did find a quiet corner on my couch. As I talked to the Lord, I recounted the places I was walking through. Then He seemed to show me how I had begun to limp in faith unknowingly. I thanked him for the plaster cast of faith He put around my feet for future days and brought up a misunderstanding I had with a dear friend. He took a bandaid of comfort and covered their cutting words and offered the healing salve only available when we forgive them.
Though I pray every day, and that throughout the day, there was a difference when I actually quieted my noisy soul, silenced the shouts of pressing burdens and pressed in hard ’til I could sense His heartbeat next to mine. You’ll know you’re there when His peace covers you like a blanket, His word comforts you like a bandage, His stillness calms your chaos, and you find yourself quieted like a little child in her parent’s arms.
“But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.” ~ Psalm 131:2