It was a year ago when I read on Preston Searcy’s blog: “If it cries, hold it”.
Words to live by. Words to minister by.
“If it cries, hold it”.
I have not forgotten those words.
Let me tell you a little scenario from the Fat Beggars Home for Widows, Orphans, and Sojourners. All four of the otherwise homeless souls staying in this house (not counting my own), are under the age of two. None are speaking in complete words yet, much less sentences. One is adopted, we expect it of another, and there is the ever looming question mark hanging over the other two.
The three toddlers are old enough to begin dealing with social issues, despite their language limitations. They deal in matters of sharing/not sharing, inclusion/exclusion, bullying and jealousy every day. I, as the shepherd of this fold, have the task of discovering and implementing worthwhile discipline WHILE AT THE SAME TIME managing other household matters. There is laundry, dishes, baths, dusting, picking up of clutter, groceries to purchase, case worker inspections, therapy sessions, parent visits, and a yard to maintain – not to mention routine repairs on both home and cars, bills to pay, dinner to cook, and diapers to change….
Did I cover it all?
Not even close.
So when a toddler begins to cry in the play pen while I am cleaning up after breakfast, it could be that he just got bit, knocked down and a toy taken away, or some other social injustice… or… it could be that he is just lonely.
“If it cries, hold it!”
So, I put the mop down and go find one of the children (the runt of the litter) bawling his eyes out in the play pen alone. Every single toy is thrown out of it, and there is nothing to play with. My first thought is to scold the child for tossing all the toys out. My second thought is to plea with the child to be patient, I am coming to give attention in a few minutes… as soon as I get that laundry moved to the dryer, the leftovers put up, and that spilt milk (I wanna cry over) that is coagulating on my kitchen floor mopped up. You know… in just a minute.
Okay! Okay! Okay!!!! I get it. Move over. I am climbing in there with you. Hold on, let me grab that ball we bought for you just yesterday that you love so much.
The child with tears running down both cheeks just looks at me bewildered until I finally have the ball in hand and my butt sat on the floor of the play pen. He droops and lunges for me. I try to push him to the other side so that I can roll the ball to him, and he can roll it back to me. Like we did yesterday! and it made for much laughter and smiles. But suddenly, he bursts out with new cries!
I say it in exasperation.
“If it cries, hold it”!
I take the child in my arms, and the crying suddenly ceases.
I roll the ball to the other side in such a way to make it bounce back to me as the child sits on my lap watching. Perhaps there is value in this exercise, but the real value is in the holding. He watches the ball go back and forth, but holds his spot on my lap like his life depends on it.
“If it cries, hold it”.
Are you hearing me, dear reader?
If it cries, hold it.
I got this from Preston Searcy who got it from a college buddy’s mom.
I wonder why this doesn’t come up in our outreach classes. We run to the “get a job, hippie!” chapter – okay, it’s said in different words with different inflection, but it is still a chip off the old Nazi propaganda block that said, “Work will make you free”. But what if that homeless person needs a hug? Did anyone think of that?
If I told you my foster kids are almost all recovering drug addicts at one year old and less, would you think any less of them? What if I told you that about my street friends? Would you think less of them?
If I told you my baby who is not a drug addict at all behaves pretty much the same, would that mean anything? Would it suggest that needing to be held when you cry is a fairly common matter of the human condition?
Just look at all the tear-in-my-beer country music songs! What does it mean to sing the blues? How is it that every road house, honkytonk, and juke joint knows what you don’t?
I know that when I got divorced, I fell apart and cried a lot. I know that those who came to listen a bit, to hold me and pray always got my attention, and my desire to be with them deepened tremendously and quickly. And I was not on drugs! Yet I also know that a LOT of my street friends were born hooked on drugs and from broken homes long before they were homeless.
“If it cries, hold it”.
It’s not a Bible verse in and of itself, but perhaps it should have been. And anyway, I think it should get a chapter in the course material for any outreach class your church would offer.