Working on a little less sleep than usual today.
My oldest woke up a little before 5 a.m. this morning after having a nightmare. Of course, she called for Daddy. I dutifully walked in, reassured her, and told her to go back to sleep. Usually, that's all that's needed. Not this time.
A few moments later, "Daddy! Daddy!" came the cry.
A little frustrated, I walked back into her room.
"My tummy hurts."
I'm a dad. Perhaps too well trained in what makes kids' tummies hurt. My first response, "Do you need to throw up?"
"Do you need to go potty?"
Head shakes again.
"Are you hungry?"
Running out of options....
Of course, it was a morning on a very big day for my oldest. It is her first Kindergarten program--a Christmas program. On the stage. In front of a lot of people. It dawns on me, "She's nervous as all get out."
"Kiera, are you nervous about your program today?"
Head nods profusely. "I'm scared."
"You've been on stage before for your dance class."
"But, I've never sung on stage before. I'm nervous."
Of course, I want to fix it. I want her to stop being nervous. Part of it is because I want to go lay back down and get another hour of sleep--selfish, I know. And of course, part of it is because I want her to know that there is really nothing to worry about. She'll be up there with a whole lot of other kids. She won't be in the spotlight. She doesn't even have to sing really loud. Everything will be O.K.
But you can't necessarily convince a 5 year old who is facing her stage debut of these things. Fear overwhelms. Nerves get fried. Tummies start hurting.
Having been in her shoes, I know some of what is going on in her head. A fear of the crowd. A fear of messing up. A fear of doing something different.
At her age, she really shouldn't worry about such things. She will have many new experiences, and this is just one in a long line. She should get used to it. Messing up is really no big deal at this point. Everyone has at some point, and the good news about the crowd is they are really very forgiving. Messing up just adds to the overall "cuteness" of the programs at this age. It's the mess ups that bring the most smiles as folks remember their own trepidation at being in front of everyone. But she doesn't understand this just yet. I wish I could make it easier on her. I wish I could just zap that nervousness out of her. I wish it were good enough for me to tell her, "Don't worry. Everything is going to be O.K."
Yet, I know she's going to have to suffer through it. She'll have to experience it first before my words hit home. After enduring her first performance, she will see that everything is O.K. And perhaps, just perhaps she will learn to trust me a little bit more.
In some small measure, I think I can get a glimpse of what God must feel toward us as His children. Many of us go through life with a little bit of fear, a little bit of worry hanging around the bend. We're nervous about our jobs. We're nervous about having someone over. We're nervous of how we are perceived by others around us. Aw, heck, I've been on a Christmas theme here recently. Let's continue the thoughts regarding our celebrations of Christmas:
a. We're nervous about whether or not people will like our gifts.
b. We're nervous about whether or not we can afford to buy the gifts we want to buy.
c. We're nervous about keeping our families happy with our visitation schedules.
d. We're nervous about having the perfect meal cooked for everyone coming over.
e. We're nervous about getting all the stuff done before Christmas arrives.
And all the while, our Heavenly Father is saying, "Don't worry about all that stuff. It will take care of itself. Focus on what is really important."
And we will refuse to listen. We will worry. Our anxiety will shoot through the roof. Soon, we will be saying, "My tummy hurts!" We'll reach for the Tums, the Tagamet, the Mylanta, the Pepcid or whatever choice of antacid suits. We'll reach for the bottle to calm our nerves. And eventually, we will get through it. We will celebrate Christmas and heave a sigh of relief that everything was O.K.
But when all is said and done, will we trust our Heavenly Father more? Will we learn our lesson and see that we need not stress so much?
I guess only time will tell.