Anyone who’s tried to transfer a slumbering babe-in-arms to its crib knows what a daunting task it can be. Having attempted this move innumerable times, first years ago with my daughters and more recently with three grandchildren, I’ve come to believe babies are born with a sensor which alerts them to the increasing proximity of the miniature mattress. The little person sleeping so soundly and peacefully in your arms can become a crying bundle of flailing arms and legs in a split second.
Such is the case with baby Emma. She starts to fidget as soon as she feels my arms (and herself) move away from my body and works up to a full-on wail by the time I get her into her bed. I quickly cover her with a soft blanket and begin to rub her back and pat her bottom to ease the transition. Inevitably one tiny hand reaches for her mouth and extracts her pacifier. As of now this is a one-way maneuver – she hasn’t quite figured out how to put it back. The result: more fussing. In an attempt to keep her from dislodging her paci, I offer her one of my fingers to hold as she dozes back off.
Barely four months old, Emma has a vise-like grip which leads to another challenge as I try to reclaim my finger and exit her room. Yet a baby’s inborn ability to curl its tiny fingers around a bigger one is a most endearing quality. Siblings Joshua and Lyla will offer Emma one of theirs from time to time and then exalt, “Look! She’s holding my finger. She likes me!”
As our children become mobile, hand holding continues. We extend a hand to steady them as they take their first steps. We ask them to hold our hand as we cross the street or a busy parking lot. Gradually, the practical need to hold hands decreases . . .
But we never outgrow the need to hold hands from an emotional perspective. I’ve said countless times, one of the things I’ve missed most since Ray died was having his hand to hold. From momentous events like puffing my way through labor pains to more mundane activities such as discussing the day’s activities after dinner and strolling around our small property – we held hands. We were partners. He had my back. And then one day his hand was still and it could no longer reach for mine. Instead, it held a single red rose as we laid him to rest.
In the midst of my loneliness and sorrow, there was One who told me not to fear or be dismayed. He promised to strengthen me and help me. He assured me He would hold my hand and never let go. He’s been true to his Word. He always is. And now, in His goodness and mercy, He’s seen fit to provide another hand to reach for mine – a strong yet gentle hand that dwarfs mine in its grasp. Though I don’t know where our strolls will take us, I know the One who holds us in His mighty, everlasting embrace. We can trust Him to have a good and perfect plan . . . always.