Friday, July 23, 2010

Band aids, Tylenol, and a Merry Heart!

Okay, so being a mom, I feel I am an expert on band aids, Tylenol, and pretty much all things concerning kids' ouchies. If you are a mom, I'm sure you can relate. Half of the time, my kids claim that they need a band aid (or a "boo-boo sticker" as we used to affectionately call them), when they really don't need one at all. But, for whatever reason (and Spider man may have something to do with it) they work! Just this morning my 4 yr. old scraped his finger on some unfinished wood where a doorknob had come off. That was all it was....a scrape. No blood. Yet, he insisted on a band aid. After complaining that we still didn't have Batman band aids, a shark band aid was applied, and he was instantly all better!

Tylenol (or Advil, or even generic Target brand ibuprofen, which I'm admitting I've purchased) can have a similar effect. However, this is something that I don't give just because my children ask for it. They really have to need it. (I'm not advocating the medication of children for no reason.....though I completely understand contemplating the use of antihistamines after the fourth night in a row that your toddler hasn't slept well.) Typically, my kids don't ask for pain medication. But I know when they need it. Whether it's a fever, some serious teething pain, or an earache, pain medication so often does the trick. On a stronger level, it has almost the same effect as that band aid when it kicks in. All better! I remember giving my 3 yr. old some pain medication one night when she woke up fussing, crying, and slightly feverish. After medicine and snuggling with mama for 20 minutes, she was actually running around, laughing, and playing doll house as if nothing was wrong.

A merry heart. Now, this is much more serious and ultimately life-changing. A merry heart can have a measurably greater impact than band aids or Tylenol ever could. The Bible says that a merry heart does good like a medicine. My Bishop talked about this at our mid-week service last night. I'm not trying to re-preach his message. The gist of it is that if we keep our hearts merry, we can survive anything. I believe this to be true, although it doesn't always feel true. If we live long enough, suffering will come to our doorsteps. What do we do when that happens? Do we allow devastation and desperation to turn into debilitating depression? Or do we purposefully look for the silver linings in the dark clouds knowing that there has to be a better tomorrow? I know the correct answer. However, I'm not declaring that it's always easy.

I also believe that what goes hand-in-hand with the decision to have a merry heart is the decision to pour out our souls to our Creator--the one who best knows our heart cries. As Lisa Harper wrote in her book, A Perfect Mess, "When we tell God where and why it hurts, we will experience divine embraces that last until our souls stop quivering." "...our Redeemer draws close to brokenhearted people." Just as our children have to tell us about each and every boo-boo, demanding our attention and comfort, we can come to God in much the same way. He already knows our pain, but it's for our comfort that we turn to Him. He can put a band aid on it and kiss the pain away. At other times, He may reach down and truly administer some tangible healing that makes the fever go away. But, when we choose a merry heart...and choose to trust Him with our heart, this can provide deeper healing still.

Mamas have a way of making the pain go away. Our kisses, sweet words, band aids, and Tylenol can all seem very magical when we use them. There are other times--and will be other times--that we cannot make the pain go away....when we can't turn off the heat. In these times, we hope that our example is strong. I hope that my example will be a powerful reminder to my children. I truly hope that they will recount all of the days when I kept a merry heart, even in the midst of difficult circumstances and trying times. I hope that they will remember that I put my hope, my trust, and my heart in the hands of one much bigger than me. I hope that they will choose a merry heart in the face of life's challenges, struggles, and disappointments. I hope that they will choose to bring all of their pain to the lap of the one who loves them unwaveringly.

Band aids and medicine are well and good. But when all else fails, one thing is sure to bring us closer to true healing...a merry heart!

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