“Mommy, you are safe and loved and wanted,” my son said to me one night as he stroked my cheek, his eyelids heavy with sleep. He was repeating words I had said to him even in the womb. Every night after bedtime story and prayer, I would whisper those words to him and his sister, “You are safe and loved and wanted.” And now, he would say those very words back to me, mimicking my emphasis on the words safe, loved, and wanted.
At the moment, I smiled and said thank you, son. His sister had already drifted off to sleep secure that her world would remain as warm and safe as it had always been. Watching my children sleep, I tried to remember the last time I felt as safe as they did.
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Adulthood is hard, and there are a lot of things that terrify me. Reading the news in 2020, a near-death experience, the scourge of human trafficking, child molesters, accidents, crime, and ultimately, who would love my children if something happened to me and my husband? These fears all weigh heavily on my mind.
As a child, I remember being anxious all the time, nighttime for me was filled with bad dreams about monsters and ghosts. As a teenager, my nightmares were less about monsters trying to hurt me and more about human beings who were just as scary.
And the truth is, as an adult, I still struggle with being anxious and afraid.
Not in the same way, of course, but I can sometimes find myself feeling unsafe, unloved, and unwanted, and I am only just beginning to understand all the reasons why and learning to face those feelings.
And yet, each night I tell my children they are safe and loved and wanted. Always in that order. I know they will forever be loved and wanted by me but I can never guarantee their safety. Not completely. They don’t know how scary the world is yet, and I am grateful for that, but one day, despite our best efforts they will learn what the world is. And like me and many others, they may feel unsafe, unloved, and unwanted.
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Right now, my children believe they are safe because I say they are. I have never lied to them before, and they have no reason to doubt me. Plus, there is something very comforting about the consistency with which they hear those words.
And if my children could be comforted by my human words, how much more can they be comforted by the words of their Heavenly Father who is perfect and does not change.
How much more should I be comforted by God’s words?
I say my children are safe because I have locked doors, God says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you, he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
I tell my children they are loved because seeing them and being with them selfishly fills me with strong emotions my human heart understands to be love but God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3).
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I assure my children they are wanted because my husband and I, although unprepared to be parents, were genuinely grateful for them from the moment we learned they existed. However, God says, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am” (John 14:3).
Talk about being safe and loved and wanted.
I know there will always be things to fear and I know I may always struggle with feeling anxious and scared, but I am so thankful that God constantly finds ways to draw my focus away from the perils of living and back to his everlasting word. I know that there is no shortage of evil, but I have every reason to hope because God has been faithful to me in his loving kindness. And whenever my fear gets bad, I sing the chorus of my favorite hymns:
“The winds and the waves shall obey thy will:
Peace, be still. Peace, be still.
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea
Or demons or men or whatever it be,
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean and earth and skies.
They all shall sweetly obey thy will:
Peace, be still; peace, be still.
They all shall sweetly obey thy will:
Peace, peace, be still.”
Mary Ann Barker
You are safe and loved and wanted.
Previously published on the author’s blog