If you’ve had kids, you know that family cry in the middle of the night. It’s no longer the cry of an infant letting you know that he’s hungry or needs changing…this is the tentative “mom?” that follows a bad dream or a scary noise from outside. It’s a cry that you have to answer, but at 2am, you really wish you could just ignore it. Sometimes they just want a hug and reassurance that there’s nothing mean under the bed. Sometimes they want a warm glass of milk and for you to check the closet. Sometimes they want you to sleep in the bed with them to reassure them that everything is okay. This dad loved his son with all of his heart…but night after night of reassuring his son’s fears caused him to come up with a brilliant solution.
Most parents have had some experience with kids waking up with
bad dreams at some point or another. If not bad dreams, then
surely every parent has had to deal with invisible monsters
hiding in the closet or under the bed.
Recently my wife and I had a bout with our oldest son waking us
out of the comfort of our warm bed to come into his room and
scare off something that was fear itself.
It was three in the morning and even though it can be the
sweetest word on earth when you get home from work, it is not
so sweet when heard at three in the morning.
I came into my son’s room to see what the problem was.
The first time it was, “I think I saw something.”
The second time it was, “I think I heard something.”
The third time it was, “I’m just scared.”
I had to get up early in the morning and go to work. I am a
very patient man but my sleepiness was wearing my patience down.
The wee hours of the morning had me delirious so I warned him,
“If you call me one more time, I’m going to give you something
to be afraid of.” Two minutes later.
I came into the room and staying true to my promise, even though
it hurt my heart to do so, I gave him a tap on the leg; after
all, I had to get some sleep. Walking back to my bed like a
weary victor of war, I said, “It wasn’t easy but that took care
of that.” Five minutes later.
I lay in bed for a while at my wit’s end on what to do,
I had given up.
I knew that if I went and slept in his room with him he would
want me to do it every night that he felt fear. I laid there
basking in a feeling of stripped victory. In the stillness of
the night, a light popped on in my head.
It was a literal light.
I saw a picture in my head of a flashlight.
I immediately got out of bed, went to the hall closet, got the
flashlight out and took it to my son’s room. I handed it to him
and told him “Light has a special power to make monsters go
away, when you think you see or hear something just cut the
light on and shine it in that direction and whatever it is will
have to go away.”
I went back and got into bed with apprehensiveness against
getting to sleep too soundly. I listened for about five minutes
then I saw a circle of light shining in my son’s room. I waited
for that demanding title of “Daddy,” but all I heard was the
stillness of the night.
This same principle is true in the lives of adults. Many times,
we are afraid of that which can really do us no harm.
Our flashlight can be knowledge; most of the time we fear what
we don’t understand. As we become more enlightened on something
that seems scary, peace will come.
The light doesn’t really chase away monsters living in the
shadows, it just changes our eyesight to see that the room, the
business, the school, the marriage, and the assignment is not as
scary as it looked without the light on.
Whatever you are afraid of, shine some light on it.
While this is a brilliant solution for giving children power over their own fears, it is a great life lesson for adults. When something is too big or too complicated, it can be easy to “hide our heads in the sand” and live in fear of what might come next. Taking a deep breath and learning about what scares us is the only way to move forward with our lives. Just as we teach our children not to be afraid of the dark, we must teach ourselves not to be afraid of the unknown.
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