She giggled, and took wad after wad of toilet paper, dipping it into the bowl of water and throwing it furiously at the poster-board. 10-20-30 times maybe, she hurled the dripping wads of paper towards her enemy. The more she did it, the more energized she got.
Her mom cheered her on from behind. She gave suggestions and Lacey happily accepted the encouragement. The child returned to one section of the poster-board and began to wipe it frantically. Back and forth as she said, “Go away death! Go away!” Her mom cheered in the background, “That’s right, go away!”
The little girl had walked into session timid, whispering to her mom the things that scared her; but somehow she transformed into a warrior in-the-midst of about 20 minutes. She took her marker, quietly and unsure at first, asking me and her mom to turn away. I put on music, so she didn’t feel watched. The Trolls soundtrack was carefully selected as the upbeat tune; set against the dark topic of death, it felt disjointed, but it was a shield for Lacey as she drew the nightmares that haunted her dreams and stole her sleep.
She drew images of people she loved distorted. She drew pictures of how she imagined her little brother dying. Her brother was very much alive, but she feared his death. She feared her own. Her sense of safety and security had been shattered in infancy with the death of her older sister. Most people think infants are protected with their lack of full comprehension, but this little girl was falling apart years later with fear because before she had the opportunity to learn how to smile, her family was introduced to some of the most cruel brokenness this world can dish out. From the womb, her life was marked by illness and death. She never knew the innocence of a paradise where death didn’t exist.
As I watched her erase death with her wads of toilet paper, I thought of our Savior. I imagined Him there with us cheering on His kids, much like Lacey’s mom was doing. Death is a rightful enemy. Our anger towards it is righteous. Jesus can agree with that kind of anger and celebrate our desire for it to be overturned. I imagined Jesus high-fiving her and throwing wads with her knowing full well that it required a lot more than wet toilet paper to overturn death.
I prayed for the images Lacey’s mind felt trapped by to be released. I asked for God to literally erase those cruel thoughts that taunted her and kept her from the rest her growing mind and body needed. I prayed for the kindness of God to not be distorted by this little girls’ closeness to brokenness. I prayed for God to restore her innocence and allow her to have the weight of death lifted off her shoulders.
We all need that intervention, don’t we?
We all need something from our past to be erased. Some sort of brokenness to be overturned. We need to be able to imagine our Savior restoring His beautiful paradise to its rightful order—we need Him to restore our innocence. We need Him to be near us as we make our own feeble attempts to erase the pain of our wounds.
We can’t do it alone.
We need Him.
Our own attempts are no better than wet wads of toilet paper.
We have the promise that God will make the sad things untrue. While this side of heaven we feel the weight of death and sin tangibly close to us, we look forward to heaven when we will live in paradise. It doesn’t diminish the pain of the brokenness now. It is real. It can feel crushing. But we rest while we grieve in what God earned for us in Jesus. When by His death on the cross and His raising from the dead, He mocked death and tossed it into an abyss.
Someday soon, my friend Lacey will rest comfortably with a mind clear of the distorted images that bully her now. Her shoulders won’t carry the weight of death on her five-year-old frame. Until then, we will keep battling death in small ways and trust Jesus to do more behind the scenes as He champions our efforts to war where our little weapons will take us. I’m going to need more toilet paper.
Oh, Jesus, come soon.