Today was Sophie’s second full day of preschool, and we knew there was going to be a fire drill. Sophie is very afraid of loud noises, and she was very anxious about the fire drill. Afraid is actually maybe the wrong word. Sophie’s whole being is affected by loud noises because of the way her brain processes them. She enjoys the bands in the holiday parades, but her whole 35 pound body shakes as they pass by. She does not enjoy fire alarms, so I imagine it’s the same physical reaction, except with a negative emotional association.
I trace this back to Sophie’s very early experiences — when she was just one year old she underwent multiple MRIs because of her developmental delays, and she was awake for them. I can’t recount the horror of these experiences, because my husband bravely went into the MRI tube with her instead of me because I was pregnant with our son, Micah. He tells a harrowing tale though… Anyways, loud noises are an issue for Sophie, so much so that, along with other issues we see, we expect her to be diagnosed with sensory processing disorder when we see her developmental pediatrician in the fall.
Back to the fire drill. Sophie was filled with anxiety about this fire drill. My mama’s heart was hurting for my girl, big time. I wanted to be with her to comfort her through the experience, but 1) I don’t attend preschool, and 2) that wouldn’t help her grow. So I did the best I could coaching her the day before and the morning before school that day. I had no idea the doors that would be opening in our conversation on the way to school that day all because of a little fire drill. And I want to share that conversation with you.
“Sophie, Jesus can help you when you feel afraid. Remember our Bible verse? ‘When I am afraid, I will trust in Jesus.’ Jesus can keep you safe when you’re scared.”
Sophie responded, “But I can’t see Jesus. Where is he?”
“Jesus is invisible. But he is real. And he can come and live in our hearts so that he is always with us. And he helps us whenever we ask for help, like when we’re scared and we need to be brave. But we have to ask him to come into our hearts so he can help us. He saves us from everything that’s bad in the world,” I replied.
My eyes filled with tears as I heard her reply, though it wasn’t directed to me. “Jesus, come in to my heart. I don’t want to be bad.” What a sweet prayer. Sophie continued, “But I didn’t see anything,” confused that she hadn’t seen Jesus enter her heart.
So, I explained, “We don’t see Jesus come into our hearts, but we can feel him. Because he’s in our hearts we can feel different. Like when we are scared, Jesus can help us to be brave.”
“But, I’m scared of the fire drill,” she affirmed.
“It’s ok to be scared,” I said, “You can ask Jesus to help you when you feel scared.”
“Help me, Jesus,” she prayed. And then she asked me, “But why do we have to ask Jesus into our hearts?” (Best “why” question I’ve EVER been asked!)
And I explained, “It’s like when we have a friend over to our house. We have to invite them over before they come over and come in to the house, otherwise they don’t come over. So we have to invite Jesus into our hearts just like that.”
Again, she prayed, “Jesus, come in to my heart.”
I love these unprompted prayers. I know I’m hearing her heart.
When we arrived at the school, I asked her if she wanted to pray together before I took her in for the day. And she nodded. So I prayed, “Dear Jesus…”
And she repeated, “Dear Jesus,” then added right away, “I’m scared.”
I love hearing her heart pour out to Jesus! And I added, “Help me to be brave today.”
“Help me to be brave today” she repeated.
And off we went to class. Her teacher tells me she did great with the drill. I knew she would because her tiny 35 pound self was carrying the King of the Universe in her heart.
In the end, all I want to do is point my kids towards Jesus. That’s it. He’s the whole deal. I’ve never been more thankful for a fire drill.