26904_000_004How could I comfort my daughter when I was also in pain?
The familiar tug on my arm came at 3:15 a.m. Our seven-year-old daughter, Charlotte, stood by my bedside, frightened because of a scary dream. Her dreams came often, and more and more I was frustrated to know how to deal with them.
When Charlotte was younger and had a bad dream, she simply climbed into bed between my wife and me. There, safe and secure, she would fall asleep within minutes. Then I’d carry her back to her own bed and tuck her in again. But after my wife, Julene, developed cancer and had to undergo treatment, every toss and turn in the bed awakened her and brought her pain.
And so this time I pulled myself out of bed, reassured my daughter, and went with her to the room she shares with her sister. I helped her find her pillow, fluffed it up, let her lie down, then put a blanket over her. I pulled up a chair and sat next to her, holding her hand, telling her everything would be all right.
I had gone to bed tired and discouraged. I loved my wife and worried about her suffering. Despite insurance, the medical bills were piling up. Despite the many kindnesses of neighbors, there were household chores to catch up on. The children, especially Charlotte, had to be constantly encouraged to do their share. I had Church assignments to fulfill. Concerns at the office were weighing me down. I had prayed for comfort and had not found comfort. And now, for the third night in a row, my daughter had awakened me in the middle of the night. I took a deep breath and patted her hand.
“Daddy, can we say a prayer?” Charlotte said.
“Of course we can, sweetie pie,” I replied.
“You go first,” she said, and I did. I tried to keep it simple so she would understand. I thanked Heavenly Father for our blessings. I asked Him to watch over two of our sons who were serving missions. I asked Him to bless Charlotte and me, to bring us peace. I felt prompted to say that although Charlotte had not yet been baptized and confirmed and didn’t yet have the gift of the Holy Ghost, she could still have the Lord’s Spirit to be with her. I prayed that the Spirit of the Lord would come.
“All right,” I said, after closing the prayer in the name of the Savior, “it’s your turn.”
Charlotte said a sweet, simple prayer. She asked Heavenly Father to bless her mommy, to bless her missionary brothers, and to bless her other brother and sister. Then she asked Him to bless us and to let the Holy Ghost be with her. She ended her prayer in the name of Jesus Christ.
I brushed her hair gently with my hand, and when she asked me to, I scratched an itchy place on her shoulder.
“Daddy,” she said, “can we sing a song?”
This was a familiar request. We often use songs, especially hymns, to chase fear away. Thinking it would lighten the mood, I started off with, “I looked out the window, and what did I see? Popcorn popping …” 1
“No, Daddy,” she interrupted, “something else.”
I tried another favorite. “Jesus wants me for a sunbeam, To shine for him each day …” 2 She liked this one and added in the word beam each time at just the right places.
We sang one of my favorites, “When He Comes Again,” 3 then “Jesus Once Was a Little Child,” 4 then “The Spirit of God,” 5 which the Primary children in our ward had memorized. Then I sang “Come, Come Ye Saints” 6 and “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet.” 7
She squeezed my hand. “Daddy, can we pray again?” she asked sleepily.
“Sure,” I said. “This time you go first.” And she did. Her prayer was short but powerful. “Dear Heavenly Father,” she said, “even though I’m not baptized yet, thank You for sending the Spirit of the Lord to be with me. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”
She snuggled into her pillow and quickly fell asleep. I sat in the night, realizing that her simple faith had brought the Spirit. I felt totally enveloped in peace. I realized that this child, our child, was also Heavenly Father’s child, and that He had heard her prayer. And I knew that I was also His child and that He had heard and answered my prayer. I knew that with simple faith I could always invite the Spirit and find answers to my concerns.
My worries didn’t disappear. It was now 4:45 a.m., and I still had to get up and face the day. But the peace lingered, so strong it brought tears. And with the peace came hope. I got up, showered and shaved, got dressed and ready for work. Tonight, I promised myself, the whole family would kneel and ask in faith for the Spirit to be with us. And because of the example of our child—Heavenly Father’s child—I knew the Spirit would be.