Bedtime was rich tonight.

Usually it’s brief—a hair tousle, a peck on the cheek—and always including an I love you and religiously bracketed by a weary, halfhearted prayer.

Tonight, God was tugging at my heart. A pang, an alert, a please. Slow down, he seemed to say. This is what I want you to do with the rest of your evening. So I gave in.

I lay down next to Glory, and we chatted it up, discussing the all-too-frequent-for-my-liking approaches by pubescent boys in her school. Determined to arm her with witty, polite, and yet off-putting one liners, soon we were laughing so hard that she couldn’t stop giggling to save her life. I prayed, sort of… and then I learned something. “It’s your turn” (to pray), I said, encouraging to put aside her laughter. “I am praying,” she replied. Huh. Apparently she was laughing TO God. Offering even that up to him. So cool, isn’t it?

After getting up from her bed (and giving up on verbal prayer with giggle girl), my thoughts returned to Joel. Ahh, Joel. He’d done and said some things earlier that evening that hurt me deeply. I’d forgiven him, but the moments still stung like the welt swelling in reply to the crack of a cruelly snapped whip. I’d already tucked him in quickly, with the customary peck and prayer.

Finding me in the kitchen a few minutes later, Noah asked me if I wanted to play some video games, or maybe watch some TV. Something in my heart held back. That pang, that alert sounded again. An ache, a need for prayer. I told Noah as much, promising to find him later, before his lights out. I was about to recline in my easy chair when I opened my heart to the Spirit’s guidance. The image of me climbing into bed beside Joel and wrapping my arm around him. The thought that his heart was torn by what had happened, that it was up for grabs, that I need to be careful with him, or I’ll lose him.

I climbed the stairs, then up into his bunk bed, and he welcomed me. He apologized again, and then I told him that I’d already forgiven him. That I would always forgive him. No matter what. That we’re buddies forever. And then I knew I needed to stay there with him in the dark, by his side, arm around him, until he fell asleep. I needed to prove my love, not just say it. And so I did. Instead of his nightly routine, an hour long, restless fiddling with fatigue, he was out cold in ten or fifteen minutes. I slid out of bed content, remembering my promise to Noah.

I found Noah in bed, almost ready for light’s out. I climbed in next to him, clicking off his lizard’s terrarium lighting before settling in at his side. It was his turn for chatter. We laughed, we listened, we loved just talking to each other. I prayed that our friendship would last for our lifetimes, however that works out.

And now I’m blogging about it all, because it was more than precious. And because maybe God has something for you in the story.