As I peek my head around the corner and look down to the end of the dark hallway I’m able to see what made the noise. From the bedroom emerges a little girl. She’s got a blanket in one hand and her favourite stuffy gripped tight to her body with the other. Her hair is dishevelled; a mess that only a sleeping toddler could make.
When she spots me, she shuffles down the hallway with purpose. Without making any eye contact, she presses her body up close against my leg while I finish brushing my teeth. She waits for me and doesn’t move.
Stacey has been out of town on a mom getaway-planning-shopping retreat for the past couple of nights. I’m not sure why this particular child is up at this particular point of the night, but I know we’re all a little zapped from the feeling of just not having mom around.
I finish brushing my teeth and begin the inquisition.
‘Why are you up? Are you scared? Did something happen? Do you need to use the toilet? Are you thirsty? Do you feel sick?’
No answer. No eye contact. Just pressing against me and hugging my leg. No words.
Then everything changes. I ask, ‘Would you like to come into daddy’s bed with me?’
Her bluish eyes, suddenly clear like the morning after the mist rises, shoot up towards mine. That’s it. Whatever is wrong, that makes everything better.
Down the hall we go and hop into bed. She pulls the blankets on and I lay beside her.
While she labours to get comfortable, I grab my phone and open my PrayerMate app. Even though I’m in bed, I can redeem the time, right? But as I open my app, my daughter moves over, snuggles up, presses in.
Suddenly, her restless tossing has turned to restful motionlessness. Her breathing slows. Her groggy eyes are closed again and she drifts off to sleep. I stop to take it all in.
At that moment I realize, her tiny hand has grabbed hold of my shirt. She is clinging to me as she sleeps. And she has peace.
I’m not sure what’s wrong. Fear? Discomfort? Sadness that mom isn’t here? Stress about school or her concert tomorrow? It doesn’t matter. She is clinging to daddy. She has peace.
And you know what? While she clings to me for peace, I have joy. In these moments, there is nowhere in the world I would rather have her go, than straight to me. This is exactly what I want. In this moment, as she clings to me for peace, I hold her with joy.
And in the darkness and silence of that room, I hear a gentle reminder: Julian, you have a Father. When you’re scared, doubtful, worried, stressed, you have a Father. And there is nowhere in the world he would rather have you go, than straight to him. Cling to his shirt, and you will have peace.