Shadow Monsters

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Do you remember waking up from a bad dream as a child?

In the first few seconds after waking up, my room always seemed darker. And suddenly I was aware of every single shadow being cast on my walls. They towered over me like some child-eating monster out of a storybook. If you were like me, your first reaction was to cover yourself with your impenetrable shield of protection…your bedspread. Absolutely nothing could infiltrate it. The only flaw in your bedspread-defense is that the air starts to run out. First it gets hot, then it gets heavy, and then runs out completely. So you had better figure out your next strategic move before you pass out and get eaten up by a shadow monster.

As I took shelter under my sheets, I strategized an escape plan. But just the idea of letting my toes dangle over the edge of my mattress sent shivers to my completely rational, undramatic core, much less actually making a break for it. Ask any child and they’ll tell you that the moment your feet hit the floor, you have exactly .264 seconds to start running to the door, because something will grab your foot from under the bed. It’s just a fact.

The fear would grow and grow until there was only one thing left to do. I would work up enough courage to pull the covers down, just low enough to expose my mouth, then shout into the horrible blackness…

“MOMMYYYYYYYYYYYY!”

I needed her. I needed the comfort and peace that presence brought. And we all know that a mommy’s presence vanquishes any fear from bad dreams or shadow monsters.

I truly wonder how my mom got through my terror stage of the “Half Man, Half Monkey” (Thank you Sci-Fi commercial, thank you.) It didn’t matter if I was awake or asleep. If it was dark, I was scared. She had her presence requested (that’s a nice way to say I screamed bloody murder for her) countless times. To make things worse, I also discovered the movie, “Harry and The Hendersons.” AWESOME. I went to the kitchen one night for some water and as I sat at the dining room table, the realization hit me. Bigfoot was under the table. I should have just stayed parched in my bed…under my bedspread. I thought to myself, “So this is the end. What a way to go. So long, world. It’s been a great seven years.” To this day, I’m thankful that I was brave enough to look under the table. I’m convinced I would have had a heart attack if I had just sat there an longer.

Well, now I’m the mom.

My sweet toddler is in a stage where everything is “scary”. She’ll run up to the door where there is some chipped paint and theatrically scream, “Ahhhh! A big bug!”. Or she’ll run up to her daddy and then yell, “Ahhhh! Daddy scared me!” So yes, everything is pretend scary right now.

But an airplane flew right over our house yesterday. I must admit, it was pretty loud and startled me too. She ran out of her room yelling, “Mommy! It scared me!”

I took her by the hand, starting walking towards her room and said, “It’s okay, sweet girl. It was just an airplane. Mommy will go with you.”

She tenderly looked up at me as she took my hand. Once her hand was locked in mine, she had an instant boldness; a courage that comes along with simply having her mommy with her. The thing that scared her before, wasn’t so scary anymore. I was with her.

I feel that’s how our God is with us. We can run up to Him and tell Him that we’re scared; scared of the situation we’re in, scared of the unknown, scared of the future, scared we aren’t enough.

And His heart…His wonderful daddy heart whispers to us,

“It’s alright, sweet child. I’ll go with you.”

When we hear His voice, when we feel His hand wrapped around ours, we can move forward with boldness and peace.

It may not always be easy to walk into unknown territory, and let’s be honest, it’s usually scary most of the time. But we do not have to walk in fear because we are not alone. His presence allows us freedom to breathe, freedom to keep putting one foot in front of the other, freedom to find courage where otherwise there would be none.

What a beautiful thing.

So today, lock hands with Him. Find your courage in His presence. Walk in His presence. Keep moving forward in His presence.

Shadow monsters are scary, but they all disappear in the presence of Light.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

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