Our six-year-old daughter Audra is in the midst of a stage we’ve seen her older brothers go through before her: the I-had-a-bad-dream-and-can’t-fall-asleep stage. We were always able to reason with the boys about how unrealistic the dream was. Once the events of the bad dream were proven to be improbable and irrational, the boys would be satisfied that everything was fine. Then we would tell them to make a list of their favorite things, and fill their minds with those as they’d fall asleep. We would encourage them to think about “lovely” things, advice based on Philippians 4:8 which says,
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Though each boy laughed at the word “lovely”, they’d make their list and feel calmer with the mention of each favorite item. We’d pray with them, and off they’d go to a more pleasant dreamland.
It’s a whole different story with our sweet little girl. Boys and girls are different when it comes to emotions and rational thought. You cannot easily reason with a female who is overcome by emotions. You may think that to be a sexist statement, but experience with raising both genders as well as being a female myself tells me I’m right. We have tried to reason with Audra about her nightmares, but it has no impact. What does work is the favorites list, especially when given its scriptural title of “whatsoever things are lovely.” If there’s anything that appeals to Audra, a girly-girl after my own heart, it’s lovely things. We consider together what is lovely to her, I pray with her, and her little heart is calm as she feels comforted and secure, ready to sleep. It works every time, which is no surprise to me. God’s Word never fails.
Of course, when it’s her dad trying to help her, he has his own approach, since thinking like a female is impossible for him. He takes her downstairs in the middle of the night and watches an episode of “The Three Stooges” with her until she can’t keep her eyes open anymore. He brings her back to her room, prays with her, and off she goes to sleep with quality slapstick humor on her mind. I suppose that works in a pinch, too. Either way, she knows she’s loved, and that everything is going to be all right.