October 7, 2016

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

God, family can help children weather the storms in life

Patti LambMy 8-year-old daughter, Margaret, ran into the house last week with both knees and an elbow bleeding. She tried out our neighbor’s stunt scooter on a steep driveway, and it didn’t go so well. I cleaned her up and applied some bandages, then she dashed back out to join in a ball game with her neighborhood cronies.

Margaret is quite a tomboy. She’s typically willing to sacrifice her body on the soccer field or the basketball court. Despite her tough exterior, there is one thing that terrifies her—storms.

A few weeks ago, there was a storm warning in the area, and her school called for a delayed release to keep the students and staff safe until the storm passed. That spooked Margaret and took her fear of dark skies to a whole new level.

She carefully examined the clouds every morning, making woeful weather predictions. Fearfully, she’d say things like, “I don’t think those are cumulus clouds, mom.”

Her eyes would tear up and her stomach would begin to ache.

That went on for weeks.

So recently when I heard thunder and saw lightning bolts in the distance, I braced myself for an epic meltdown.

“Here we go again,” I thought to myself.

A torrential downpour ensued, and the lightning and thunder were fierce.

I walked in to the living room, assuming that I would find Margaret in the fetal position under the coffee table. Instead, she sat quietly on the couch playing a game on her Tablet.

“Are you OK, Margaret?” I asked, baffled at her Zen state of mind.

“I’m fine,” she said, as if she had never feared a storm in her life.

I felt the need to probe.

“I thought you were scared of storms,” I said nonchalantly.

“I am,” she said.

“But you’re here, so I know everything is going to be fine,” she added.

She explained that she wasn’t afraid because I was with her, and she knew that I would take care of her.

“Even if something bad does happen, we will be together, and you won’t leave me alone because you love me, so I’ll be OK,” she said.

That day, it struck me that I should start saying that very same thing to God when I’m feeling afraid or overwhelmed during the storms of life.

The next evening, a stressful situation presented itself and I said the “prayer” Margaret taught me.

It went like this: “God, I’m uneasy now, but I know you are with me and you’re going to take care of me because you love me.

“And if something bad does happen, we will be together, and you will never leave me alone.”

A few days later, it was storming as Margaret prepared to board the bus.

She was nervous to leave, but I reminded her that I was putting her in God’s hands, the very best place to be.

I explained that even when she’s out of my protection, she’s always in God’s care. I told her that I love her so much, but God loves her even more than her dad and I do.

I silently asked God to hold her tight.

Growing up, I always remember my Uncle Joe saying, “God be with you” instead of “goodbye” upon departing. Isn’t that lovely? That morning, I said those words out loud as the bus drove away.

“God be with you.”

As long as God is with you, everything will turn out just fine.

Thanks to my brave Margaret for reminding me of this truth.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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