She was only seven and I was afraid she was lost to me forever.
Megan came home from school begging for a treat before dinner. I poured a dish of her favorite snack so she could munch as she watched cartoons. Returning to the kitchen, I flirted with the cupboards deciding which meal would salve my growling stomach.
“Mommy, I don’t want to eat the rest of these.” She held her bowl towards me. Three orange curls remained.
“Did you eat too many cookies at school today?” I teased her long braids.
“There is black stuff on them. It could hurt me.” I believed it took a peck of dirt to hurt anyone, but humored her by taking a closer look.
“Megan,” I scraped the offending particle with my fingernail, “It’s just a burnt piece. See?” I popped the cheesy snack into my mouth.
“It will hurt me.” No matter how much I cajoled I couldn’t change her mind. She avoided any food that had imperfections starting with the green beans that night. When we said our prayers, she confessed to me that she was afraid she would die. Sensing an opportunity, I explained how Jesus loved her and that if she accepted him as her Savior He would take care of her forever. Our talk ended with her in tears and me questioning my parenting abilities.
The next morning, I stalked the local Christian bookstore in search of a book that might soothe her fears. Praying I found the perfect one, I couldn’t wait to read it to her after work.
We opened the colorful book as we perched together at the kitchen counter. Tentatively, she allowed me to read the first three paragraphs about how a mommy and daddy were going to heaven together. She was inconsolable by the second page.
“I don’t know what to do for her. Is she going crazy?” I voiced my growing concerns to fellow parishioners at my Wednesday bible study. The pastor lifted her in prayer but with the outbreak of war in a faraway desert, I feared my prayers would be lost.
The following Tuesday, the teacher returned my call during her lunch break. “Megan is a wonderful student, but I have noticed some changes lately. There is this little girl in her class who recently had an allergic reaction at lunchtime. Perhaps that scene may have affected her in an adverse way.”
I then called her babysitter and wept into the phone that Megan was having irrational thoughts and I couldn’t find a way to help her. “Why won’t she trust God to help her?” I cried. ‘Aunt’ Barb confided that she had talked with Megan about her salvation but felt she was not yet ready to believe. My desperation to fix my daughter grew more each hour.
Remembering the information her teacher had shared, I sat with Megan at the kitchen counter once again with a bowl of her favorite cheese snacks. She picked through the bright orange curls.
“Honey, I spoke with your teacher today. She told me about the girl in your class who got sick awhile ago.” I watched her fingers freeze around her next choice. Her eyes glistened with unshed tears.
“She’s okay now, you know. She just had a little reaction to some food but will be fine.” I told her.
“She doesn’t have cancer, Mommy? She rides the van home to Aunt Barb’s with me and I heard the bus driver talking about cancer.” An orange puddle of tears pooled beneath her eyes.
“No, she’s fine. Is that what you are afraid of?” I pulled her blonde curls into my chest and let my own tears mix with hers.
“I was afraid I would catch it and not go to heaven with you and daddy.” Her logic made about as much sense as a seven year old could imagine. I hugged her heaving shoulders and for the first time in days, I felt a peace settle within her.
I turned into the babysitter’s empty driveway the next day chastising myself for being the last parent to arrive. Suddenly, the screen door flew open and Megan propelled her tiny body into my arms.
“I asked Jesus into my heart today, Mommy!” She hugged my neck. “I’m going to heaven someday with you and Daddy!” Fresh tears welled again but with the joy in being blessed to hear those precious words.
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