That the screech emitted from the child next to me was definitely not happy was evident long before it began reverberating off the walls of the once quiet church, and I turned to look at the small creature who had turned my head so quickly.
How had this teeny little angel of just a few months, the very same one I had been waving to and smiling at only moments before when I should have been paying closer attention to the homily, had suddenly transformed into this raging lunatic.
I’d obviously missed something and looked at her mother with stunned amusement in my raised eyebrows as if to ask what happened?
She has little baby puff munch things so she couldn’t be hungry.
She had a little board book repeatedly thrown to the floor so she didn’t appear to want to read.
She turned up her nose with a high degree of infant disdain to any toy presented.
After trying a number of rapid-fire tricks in the hopes of quieting her daughter, the sweet mother finally sighed, plopped the little one on the chair safely behind her and plunged deep into a diaper bag feeling around for a minute while the baby continued to scream, before finally pulling out…
A miniature black patent leather shoe which she thrust triumphantly at the baby.
Who at once sighed loudly and held the shoe up to her chubby little peaches and cream cheek.
The storm had passed in a few small seconds, and the perfect baby played quietly with her little shoe for the rest of Mass.
I know boys are different from girls, but I never guessed those differences started with shoe obsessions in infancy!
I never would have thought to give a screaming child a shoe.
But her mom knew exactly what she needed, and when she’d tried everything else, and only the shoe would do, the shoe came out and happiness and peace ruled our little row once again.
And it got me thinking. There are days when I want to scream and cry and just throw myself on the floor because so many things go wrong, times I know I am not good enough, and times I wonder why things are the way they are. Sometimes I even whine aloud,
“God, why haven’t I gotten that job yet?”
“God, why can’t I get things more organized here yet?”
“God, why haven’t I met someone?”
And nobody really understands. Well meaning people whom I love and adore offer suggestions, but nothing like I truly need.
Part of that is my fault because, like the baby in church, I am unable to put all my feelings into words. How do you express what is buried so deeply inside of you? How do you leave yourself open to more wounds?
Part of it may be the fault of others who, without realizing it, are too tightly wrapped up in their own lives, their own ideas, their own experiences to discover what I need or how to help, like I was in trying to figure out what was wrong with the baby at church. I never could have pulled out a shoe to comfort her.
But it didn’t matter how unskilled that baby was in letting me know her desires. I didn’t have to know. Only her Mother did.
And it didn’t matter that I didn’t know how to help that baby get what she needed. I didn’t have to know. Only her Mother did.
And if you are struggling and if it seems like no one understands your cries, if it seems like no one is able to help you, if you need a shoe to cuddle and someone passes you a container full of Cheerios, don’t lose heart.
Just as that beautiful young Mother knew exactly how to comfort her baby last Sunday, your Mother Mary knows how to comfort you and God the Father has the power to comfort each of His children and the Love and strength to do so perfectly when the time is right. Right now, He may be pulling different “tricks” out of His bag, hoping you’ll try something new or helping to prepare you for something He sees coming down the road, but never question whether He understands your cries. He does, as only a Loving parent can, and He wants the best for you as only a Loving parent does.
Trust Him and Love Him in the way that only a Loving child can Trust and Love a parent.