The Paci & Comfort.

Her paci was her drug. When she needed comfort. When she was mad. When she was tired. When she was hungry. When her parents and the rest of the world failed at soothing her, the paci could. But eventually that paci became an obsession. It caused the miscommunication of words. It's mysterious adventures would bring about seemingly endless hunts in the middle of the night. And continued use had the power to alter the shape of her mouth. So I did the hard thing. I took it away, without warning. We woke up Monday, and it was gone.

Naptime on Monday was an hour of screaming and crying. I was tempted dozens of times to go in there, give her paci back, and rock her to sleep. She cried. I cried. With the paci gone, another piece of my baby, my first baby, transitioned into a child. All that now stands between her and childhood is a box of diapers. And then, just like that, she won't be so small. Oh! How I wanted to give the paci back. But I couldn't. As much as I don't want her to grow up and be independent, I can't live like tomorrow isn't coming. For today, in these moments of feeding, and playing. Singing and dancing. Cleaning and teaching. Soothing and encouraging. Disciplining and challenging. In these moments, it is my job to push her toward independence. Not too fast, to where she never gets to be little. But not too slow, to where she never searches for more.

As I sat listening to her cries, crying alongside her, and talking through the monitor-telling her to lay down over and over and over again- I started thinking about the Lord, and how He directs me in the same way. Her paci was necessary for a time, but when it became an obsession, a source of comfort, holding her back from greater things, then it started to look a lot like the way sin does in my own life. As the Lord continues to guide me closer to Himself, He is teaching me to let go of the things that were once good but kept me in a state of comfort and not challenge.

The devotional that doesn't dig deeper, and hardly grazes the surface. The songs sung and heard thousands of times to where the words are almost robotic. Writing words that lack substance over words brought forth from vulnerability. Speaking clichés and catch phrases before listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Praying the same thank you, confession, request prayer model over and over again. The books read that end up only preserving the settled notions in my head. The TV on, so I don't have to sit in silence, listening for the gentle whisper of my Lord. The bubble surrounding my life- family, friends, where we live, our social status, our things- none of which are bad in and of themselves, but yet become obsessions as more comfort is found.

As the Lord, in His divine and intimate nature, strips these soothers out of my life, I react like my daughter. I thrash about, crying out as if His plans for me aren't greater than my own. I question His provision and protection from the soothers that could potentially alter my thinking from glorification of Him to glorification of self. I long for pride, vanity, and greed because they provide momentary comfort. And I sit, and I sulk- pushing back against each removal of comfort from my life. And finally, just as my daughter finally gives up the fight and rests her curly little head, I too sit back and rest, and fall into the only constant Comfort I will ever know.

In the midst of the exhaustion and frustration, the repetition, and the laughter, He is there, refining my heart, guiding me towards an unsettled life, embracing me with the truest Comfort I'll ever know. Each day since Monday has gotten a little bit easier. She's asked about her paci once, and while the withdrawls around naptime and bedtime are all too real, fewer tears are making their way to the pillow.

And me? There are days I'll undoubtedly thrash about in anger and frustration. I'll fight and question, and long to run away from it all. But then, there will be other days in which, I will throw aside every notion of worldly comfort and run, completely unsettled, with wild abandon into the arms of my Comforter, trusting Him as He guides me, challenges me, refines me, and reveals more of Himself to me.

 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3: 7-14