I remember feeling absolutely overcome the first time I looked into my newborn’s eyes. So incredibly beautiful, so exquisite, so perfect—my baby was a tiny miracle wrapped helplessly in my arms. Mine to comfort and protect.
With all seven of my newborns, I immediately felt this incredible protective instinct. This feeling was true to an extent. Comforting and protecting my children are central parts of being a mother. “Don’t touch that!” and “Let me see where it hurts” are two of the most common phrases I find myself saying when my kids are little. (Often one right after another when the first is ignored!)
I get nervous when I lose sight of my toddlers at the playground for even a minute or two. I tiptoe into my kids’ rooms and check their breathing when they are feverish and asleep. Now that I have adult children, I love being able to send them care packages overnight when they are suffering or sad. I like to think that they need me to comfort them.
Nothing is harder than the feeling that comforting my child is beyond my reach. Sometimes I get a helpless feeling even when they are in my arms, going through a sadness or a sickness that is too big for me to remedy. More often, I get it when they are older, having to bear difficulties that I wish I could erase. I want to hold my children tighter, exert more control, fix whatever they are going through.
My nineteen-year-old son called me from his mission in Peru a couple of weeks ago. He was sick in bed and groaning occasionally with discomfort as he talked cheerfully about his work. I couldn’t reach him through the mail, couldn’t reasonably fly to see him. I wanted to teleport there and cook him soup, bring him to the doctor, hold him and pray over him. I wanted so badly to comfort him.
Slowly, inevitably, I turned to the only one who can. I asked God to fulfill his promise: “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you” (Is 66:13).
My son and I prayed together over the phone; the next day he felt much better. I grew in my ability to turn my children over to the only one who is always within reach, the only one who always can protect, the one who has promised to comfort them as I wish I could.
I feel absolutely overcome as I think about the God who holds me—who holds my children—in his infinite arms and comforts us.