"Mommy, I'm scared," the little voice quavers, tears welling in big, brown eyes. "A boy in my class told me a story about a monster. He said it was real!"
I lead him back to bed, tuck myself in next to him. My lay my hand on his chest and feel the rapidly beating heart of a frightened baby bird.
I wrap him in the nest of my arms. He stills. I sing to him.
"Can you sing that one more time?" he says.
Jesus loves me, this I know…
"Try to put some of these words into your mind, Jude," I whisper.
"I don't know how!" he whimpers.
"Listen…Jesus loves me..When people tell you scary stories, they want to frighten you. You must learn to listen to the right voices. Can you try and hear the Holy Spirit's voice?"
"I don't know…"
"It takes practice," I say. "Here's how I know which voice to believe: the Holy Spirit doesn't tell me scary stories."
Jude taps his chest. "He's in here," he says.
"Yes, and whenever you're scared, try to remember that you might be telling yourself a scary story. Or maybe someone else is telling you a scary story."
Jude calms, relaxes. A sparkling diamond of a tear rests on his lashes. I kiss it off and taste the salty sting.
Fear. It can be a child's constant companion. I know it was mine. I was a tender, sensitive soul, easily spooked. I became suspicious, withdrew, shut down.
I grew up on scary stories: your salvation hangs in the balance, God might disown you, you might get Left Behind at the Rapture, there's no such thing as unconditional love, God loves you but He also hates you, you are never, never, never good enough.
I believed the scary stories. I let them in and they pierced my soul.
I don't listen to scary stories anymore. Oh, I still hear them. You can't help but hear scary stories: on TV, from friends, from children, in the paper.
But I have a choice now. I choose not to let them in. I seek the still, small voice.
Because His voice speaks love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Do you listen to scary stories?
Do you let them pierce your soul?