My 15-month-old daughter Lucy has my heart. She's in that stage of being really cute, even when she isn't cooperating. She just has to smile at me with her uneven grin and I melt. I've been through this stage with my two older kids, but since I'm coming down off the hormones of my 4th pregnancy, her cuteness has seemed more poignant.
Lucy isn't walking yet, even as much as we have tried to get her to do so. That means she gets held and carried a lot when we aren't at home. That is hard with a newborn in tow, but it also means that I get a lot more hugs and snuggles from her than from my older kiddos. As Lucy is learning to walk, she trips and falls while she's holding my finger. Or her brother and sister (accidentally?) push her over, and she cries. She gets scooped up into my arms and hugs me back as I hug her. BUT, my favorite part? As I comfort her with shushing and pats to her back, telling her that everything is going to be okay, SHE pats MY back. She is giving me sweet comfort because that is what her dad and I have modeled to her when she is hurting.
Thinking about this has made me realize that when I am confronted with the pain and heartache of the people I interact with--like my kids, my husband, my friends, and my neighbors--I tend to mirror the comfort that has been given to me.
From my mom, I have learned how to make a meal for those who are mourning or recovering from illness or surgery. From my husband, I have learned how to sit and listen when a heart is hurting over things outside of someone's control. From my sister, I have learned how loyalty in friendship and family gives a foundation for personal growth without fear of rejection. And from my third child, I have learned that little toddler fingers patting my shoulder are sometimes the encouragement and comfort I need after a long day of parenting 4 kids under 5.
This realization pushes me to realize that I need to know the comfort of the Holy Spirit in an even deeper way than I have experienced it already. I want to be filled with his comfort so that it flows out of me into the people around me, so that I can love my neighbor well. Something that is helping me do this is Erin Straza's new book, Comfort Detox. It just came out this week, and the wisdom she pours onto the page is simultaneously encouraging and challenging me to go deeper with God, something I have been needing desperately.
Here are some of my favorite quotes so far:
"A new affection is the only thing strong enough to overcome an old one. We must become captivated by the God who loves us enough to provide the comfort we so desperately need."
"We must begin by clearing out the clutter and putting off old ways. Be gentle with yourself as you enter into this process. Ask God to show you how comfort has gone rogue in your life, binding you to unhealthy, ungodly habits. Consider how you can practice saying no to the false and yes to true. In essence, you will be saying yes to more of God's presence and provision for your every need."
"I can keep watch with Jesus in his sorrow over the sin and suffering in the world by entering into the sorrows of others. I can listen. I can give food and drink. I can pray. I can welcome the lonely. I can encourage the downtrodden. I can send a note. I can spend time. I can visit the prisoner. There are countless ways I can do *something* for the least of the world. Small acts of kindness matter, especially to Jesus."
"We often lean on common sense in matters concerning personal safety. But what if our common sense has been negatively influenced by our addiction to comfort?"
And I'm not even half-way done with the book yet. (I'm working on it...but I just had a baby! And the flu...)
May the comfort of God overflow in your heart so that it splashes freely on everyone you encounter!