Toenail Terror

Back in July I wrote about the fearlessness of my little boy when it comes to anything having to do with water.  Isaiah’s also never been afraid of the typical things like the dark, haircuts, doctor/dentist visits, large (or small) animals, loud noises, amusement park rides, etc.

He has one fear, however, that absolutely drives us crazy.

The child is ridiculously terrified of getting his toenails trimmed.

I’m not talking just nervous or skittish…

I’m talking full out sobbing crying, “NOOOOOoooo!” screaming, legs kicking, hands grabbing, desperate eyes pleading


We’ve never slipped and cut off his toes before!  How many times have we proven that we’d take care of him?  Where did this crazy fear come from?

Admittedly, the child has gone much longer at times than he should have without this simple task of hygiene because it was exhausting to try to deal with.  This last attempt was no different.

Because Adam is way more patient than me, he usually takes the toenail cutting role on himself.  Usually Isaiah will calm down for his daddy and eventually submit to the assumed “torture” of it all.  This time, however, even daddy couldn’t cut it (no pun intended).  Isaiah refused to let him give him a trim.  Rationalizing wasn’t working, speaking calmly wasn’t working.  Neither were stern warnings or extra snuggles.  Isaiah was fighting the very hand that was trying desperately to help him.  This boy was downright being ridiculous.

As I helplessly watched the battle of wills that was occurring before my eyes, I wanted to get impatient with my son’s irrationality.  But I saw saw way too much of myself in him in that moment.

Many of my own fears – irrational or completely legitimate – flashed before my eyes.

I heard my own cries.  Saw my flailing and refusal to be still.  Felt the panic that can overtake my mind.

And as my husband lovingly disciplined and cared for his little boy, I felt my Heavenly Father say to me…

Megan, please calm down.  I’m taking care of you.  You’re making things way more difficult for yourself than they have to be.  I love you.  And I’m good…remember?

I thought of a quote from Molly Piper that is written out on a brightly colored index card and stuck on my kitchen cabinet…you know, so I would dwell on it and wouldn’t forget it (though I obviously had)…

“Hell dances when God’s people are afraid.  So I can either add to their revery and stew in my fears down here, or I can bring them to the cross, where God is not spurning them, but hearing them and calming them…

God is a loving Father, and not my adversary.”

This morning, I watched my carefree 3 year old play outside…chasing our dog through the yard, imagining and drawing up elaborate sidewalk chalk scenes on our garage floor, and “fishing” by using a long stick in the pond across the street.  Each activity done with a huge smile on his face and plenty of giggles.  Radiant joy.

Getting his toenails cut was the furthest thing from his mind.  He wasn’t dwelling or worrying or panicking.  Nor was he paralyzed by his fear.  He was simply enjoying the day that God had blessed him with.

Can I do the same?

“I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fear.  Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” – Psalm 34:5

Hopefully Isaiah won’t always be afraid of getting his toe nails trimmed.  He’ll eventually learn to trust his father and his father’s care for him.  And even though he may still get nervous, he’ll see how silly and unproductive his heart-stopping fear can be.

And hopefully I will, too.  I can feel the uncontrollable joy peeking through my timid eyes even now.

Oh, my fearful heart…trust Him.  Calm and quiet your soul.  Enjoy today and put your hope in the Lord.


3 responses

  1. Peace, peace, wondeful peace flowing down from the Father above; sweep over my spirit from Heaven above, in Heanenly billows of love! -Pastor Kurt

  2. Thank you for sharing such a powerful analagy.
    From a mother with two grown children – neither of them enjoyed getting the nails cut. I cut them when they were sleeping.
    Best Wishes.

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