I recently wrote some posts on When I die… and Heaven, because some thoughts stirred in me after hearing a sermon at church. One of the questions he asked was, “Are you afraid to die?” You can read my thought process on the topic in Heaven, but today, while I was a crew leader at Vacation Bible School, I saw it from another perspective.
A 4 year-old girl, one whose family I knew from church, joined my group late in the first day. She was clearly distraught and did NOT want to be there. For this story, her name will be Abby. Abby was screaming at the top of her lungs for her mom to take her home, and every time her mom tried to leave, she would violently break my hand hold and run after her mom. I asked her mom if anything had happened recently to upset her, because this girl usually loves the children’s church and any other activity she does. She had lost her dog recently, but Abby hadn’t seemed too upset about it. “Oh well, I thought, she’s just having a hard day.” We decided I would hold Abby tightly and her mom would leave; we’d see if she calmed down. Well, when her mom left, Abby stopped trying to run, but was still clearly upset and crying for her mom.
I decided to start a conversation with her, to try to get to the root of her anxiety.
S: Are you sad about your dog dying?
ABBY: (Shakes head no)
S: You know where he is, don’t you?
ABBY: (Nods head yes)
S: He’s in Heaven with Jesus, just waiting till he’ll see you again. And Jesus is taking very good care of him. (I’m not really sure if animals go to Heaven, but for the sake of children, I’ve decided we’ll say they do)
At this point, I didn’t know what to do, so I prayed that God would give me the right words to say. After a few moments of silent tears, I knew.
S: Are you afraid that your mommy will go to Heaven today, too.
ABBY: (Cries harder, and nods her head vigorously)
Oh, Lord, Jesus, this little girl has been terrified the whole time that if she let her mom out of her sight, her mom would get taken to Heaven without her. It was all I could do not to bawl right there with her. Now, I usually never tell someone their loved one will not die, because you really never know. But I felt like it was part of the healing that she needed and to be delivered from her fear.
S: Oh, sweetie, your mom is not going to Heaven today! She is with your brother and sister, and she’ll come right back and get you when we’re done!
I had to say it several times before she calmed down. With the next hug I gave Abby, I felt a peace come over her. She was still very clingy to me, but she was starting to trust that her mom wouldn’t leave her like the family dog did. When her mom picked her up, amid a fierce hug from Abby, I told her the story.
The next morning, all my other kids were there, and we were starting. No Abby. I wondered if it was just too much for her yesterday. Then I saw her come in with a huge smile on her face, and sit right down next to me. She smiled and played all day. God had healed the fear inside with the experience of her mom leaving and coming back.
It made me think of the fears that I have. They may never be healed if I don’t go through the very thing I dread. Next time I am in the midst of a trial, when fear tries to consume me,I hope I will remember the lesson that God taught Abby: He is real, He is with me, and He is always faithful!