“My papi is bro-oooken,” two-year old Christian Miles woefully proclaimed as he handed over his prized possession – the last papi (that’s toddler for pacifier). I looked at the rubber nipple barely hanging on from being bitten and chewed. The LAST papi. Oh boy. “This is it,” I thought as I examined it – “It’s nearly bedtime. This is going to be a rough night.”
We had been passively encouraging Christian to give up the papi, hoping that he would decide on his own that he was done with it. But with so much transition in our lives (a brand new baby sister, potty training, sleeping in his big boy bed) it just seemed like too much to ask of him. But we introduced the thought when we had the chance. playfully, “you don’t need that papi anymore!” Constructively, “We can understand what you’re saying when you take the papi out of your mouth.” The more we prodded, the more protective he became.
When bedtime came that night, I scooped him up and carried him to the rocking chair. “My papi!”, he proclaimed! I softly reminded him that his papi was broken. He didn’t fight or cry. Miraculously, amazingly, he settled off quickly to sleep. You have to know Christian Miles. He is my little warrior. Passionate, full of life, visionary. All of that emotion bottled up in a two-year old body is not easily or calmly processed. Christian, not getting his way, is something that we brace ourselves for around here like a town preparing for a Category 5 Hurricane. In fact, when he was just several months old I wrote to him in a journal that God has placed a storm inside of him. I know this fierceness will be wielded masterfully one day. But this is not that day. He is a 2-year-old ticking time bomb. He has an exact vision of how he wants things to be and his little mind cannot comprehend dissension in the ranks. So when I told him that his treasured papi was not available and he laid his head against me and fell asleep, all I could do was thank the Lord for sparing me from the storm. I didn’t consider why he slept so easily and peacefully that night…
The following day he mentioned his papi two or three times with little reaction to my response. That night he laid in bed with his daddy and I and he fussed a little bit about it, but once more to my surprise , quickly fell asleep.
But on the third day. I said on the third day (in my best charismatic choir voice) On the third day!
Full. Blown. Tantrum. All of my premature proclamations about Christian simply being done with the papi were washed away with the devastated tears of a paciless toddler. And the next night, and the next night, and the next night. I kept telling myself, “Stay strong. We’ve made it this far and it would be crazy to give in and restock the papi supply now.”
“Today is the seventh day with no papi!”, I proudly pointed out to my mom and Micah as we were in the car on our way home from a Doctor’s appointment. “Really?”, my mom asked with a sad tone.
“Kayla, did you hear him talking to that girl at lunch today?”, My dear husband Micah asked. When we stopped for lunch earlier in the day, there was a teenage girl playing with him on the other side of the divider wall from where our booth was situated. I knew Christian was gibbering and talking to her but I hadn’t paid attention the content of conversation.
“Yeah!” My Mom chimed in, “He kept telling her – My papi is bro-oooken.” She relayed the phrase to me in that same adoring accent that he uses. I immediately pictured him standing in front of me six nights ago with those big brown eyes and sad voice.
“What?!?!” I nearly came undone. I wanted to cry – I wanted to wake him up from where he was sleeping in his car seat and kiss his little face and tell him I’m so so sorry.
“Ya’ll!” I said to my mom and Micah – “That’s his story! That’s where his life is right now and it’s the thing he feels the need to communicate. His heart is broken about this!”
Now I’m not handing out parenting advice when I tell you that I had Micah drive our car straight to the nearest store and my mom and I rushed in, happier than a couple of ladies on a shopping spree, and bought Christian Miles two new pacis! I’m not bashing the parent who has firmly decided that it’s time to say goodbye to the paci. There is a time for everything.
But I will tell you this: Be sensitive to people’s stories! They matter. Contemplate where they are and why they respond the way they do. Don’t rush to thinking everything is alright and don’t rush to contain every reaction. Find the grace to be sensitive. There are defining moments in our story and I, as Christian’s mother, felt that this was one for him.
I thought back to that first night when he so trustfully laid in my arms and let me rock him to sleep. I thought about the progression of the week and how each night seemed to bring a stronger wave of emotion to the absence of the papi and I realized in that intuitive way that only a mother can that he was quiet because he understood that his last papi was broken BUT he trusted that I would fix it. Whether he had the capacity to follow that thought through to how I would fix it is inconsequential. What mattered is that his little heart believed that he would have his papi again. And as reality settled in, each day the reaction increased.
What has been lost or stolen from you in this life? If you are capable of reading this I can assume you have endured loss greater than a toddler parting with his paci. Do you know that it breaks the Father’s heart just the same and even more – incomprehensibly more – than my mommy Heart was broken for my little boy. We weren’t meant for this. Heart ache should have never been. I will say it just as I have heard it said many times, “We live in a fallen, broken world.” But although we are playing out our part here now, our story will span eternity if we will give it to Jesus.
But it’s so important that in these short moments we have here that we ask God to help us understand our story and how it fits in to His. Think of the moments that have burned conviction into you. Do those convictions line up with the truth of what He says about you?
For my little Christian Miles, the conviction could have easily become, I lost something and it was gone forever. Or I broke something, and my parents didn’t fix it. And maybe he wouldn’t remember the earliest time that he believed that. But it would lay the foundation for every future disappointment and loss to build upon.
How far back can you go in your memories? I can go pretty young. I know some people who have defining memories from when they were two years old! Some good, some that need a new perspective.
I can’t tell you exactly what the perspective is. But I know someone who can. There is a healing that comes in asking the Lord to take you back to those moments and to give you a new perspective. It doesn’t mean that horrible things haven’t happened or that great loss hasn’t come. But He will redeem it all. He will heal your heart and He will stand with you in those memories and speak truth for every lie that the enemy would have you believe about yourself or your Redeemer.
Tonight, my little guy is cuddled up to me with his new blue papi and not a care in the world. I hope he remembers this night. I hope he remembers that we did come through for him.
Maybe you’ve never been taken care of or had the amazing experience of knowing that God has come through for you. I want to invite you to that here. I want to invite you to Jesus. It’s as simple as a prayer but it will change your life.
“Jesus. Thank you for coming for me. Thank you for loving me so much that you gave your life to pay for my sins and redeem my story. I believe in you. In your life, death, and resurrection and I receive you as my savior. Come and heal my heart and tell me my story as you see it. In Your name, Jesus, Amen.”