[vc_row fullwidth="false" attached="false" padding="0" visibility="" animation=""][vc_column border_color="" visibility="" width="1/1"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]She had been planning for weeks, making posters, talking it through. She would run for student council. 5th grade student council. Quite the risk for a little girl, but we supported her 100% and hoped it would turn out okay. Part of parenting is knowing when to let go, when to push, when to pull back. Am I keeping her from something that will help her grow? Is this the brave moment I let her fly? Am I just afraid or is she showing true courage? Maybe a little of both.
You could tell she was wrestling through the whole idea of putting herself out there for anyone in her class to say "yes" or "no". This could turn out like the spelling bee. One bad letter and you sit while everyone watches. Makes me sick to my stomach.
"Daddy, what do you think of my application? Do you think it's good enough?"
Of course you say that it's wonderful (and it was), but will they think it's wonderful? Or will 5th grade politics chew up my little girl and spit her out?
It's a profound thing to observe the utter destruction that a few harsh words can do to a little girl's heart. I'm not sure who made up the dumb little rhyme about sticks and stones, but they should have one of those sticks in their eye. How off can you be? Words can be the killer.
But we we're looking for votes here. I hoped she had an invisible shield over her heart as she soldiered on. I prayed that, for once, other kids might have some kind things to say.
She labored over the posters. Color-coordinating the background paper with the markers used to accent her pre-approved copy. She brought each one (each and every one) for us to give her a thumbs-up.
"Are you sure?"
"Quite sure. They are beautiful."
Big Sis and Bro were "encouraging" for the most part, but she would be on her own. I wanted to cover my eyes for this key moment, but parenting always gives you a front row seat.
I pulled up to the curb at 3:31 to pick her up from election day. Her little furrowed brow and quivering lip told me the outcome. It didn't help that she also got mixed up on a quiz and made her first bad grade of the year.
Oh boy. Here we go.
Sometimes you display amazing parenting skills and your words are covered in grace… sometimes.
I bombed this one.
I gave her the "Biblical" assurance answer - that God had everything in control (true). That there was nothing outside of His control and He was the one who "put kings in place" yada yada yada (all true).
Way to go, dummy.
Then came the look in the rear view mirror. Absolute hurt and confusion mixed with a serious dose of betrayal.
"Then why would He do that?"
This probably wasn't the first time I had given a slap-happy bible verse answer, but it would be one that would mark me, and, hopefully, teach me not to be so stupid.
I fumbled, back-pedaled and finally made it back down to my little girl's heart.
"I don’t know. I'm so sorry. This stinks… I love you."
It wasn't helping.
Thankfully, little man threw me a life preserver by speaking sweet words to her (so proud of him). His words did a much better job of consoling than Dad's correct, but ill-timed, theology answer. So thankful for simple faith when my cluttered belief tries to fix something I have no business fixing.
After a bowl of Cocoa Puffs and a few laughs at the table, she was already moving on, but I needed to listen to Jesus. More than that, I needed to watch Him - with people.
How does He love them? How does He give the truth to them?
Like a gift. A piece of fresh-baked bread with real butter. He's not a fish-slapper (thank you, Veggie Tales), but He serves, satisfies, and listens. He offers compassion and hope. He offers himself.
There's a reason that we see Jesus crying in John 11:33-35. His friends were hurting. Mary and Martha had lost their brother. They were believing that Jesus could have done something, but He didn't. They were hoping He would show up on their time table, but He hadn't.
Ever been there?
Yes, I know, there have been plenty of fish-slappers (well-intentioned truth tellers) who have said that He was weeping over their lack of belief. Maybe. It's a stretch. And it feels cold. As cold as the brother and friend who lay in the tomb.
Lazarus, his friend, was dead. Mary and Martha were grieving, lost in sadness and hurt. Jesus took on their sadness, hurt and sorrow. He didn't speak a Psalm or (heaven forbid) the verse from Romans 8 about God causing all things to work together… you know the one.
He would eventually fix it (John 11:43-44), but at the moment, they needed Him to be with them.
And isn't that the most beautiful part of our God? He is Immanuel. God with us.
While I can't rig 5th grade elections, or distill heavy theological truth into bite-size, goldfish crackers, what I can do is wrap my arm around my little Abijoy's tiny frame and listen. I can sit with her in the mess, love her, and pray for understanding.
I can also pour a mean bowl of Cocoa puffs - if you're ever in need.[/vc_column_text][mk_icon_box2 icon_type="icon" icon_size="64" icon="mk-li-paper-plane" icon_color="#02b3ff" title="Follow Chad's Blog and never miss a post." title_size="24" title_weight="inherit" title_top_padding="10" title_bottom_padding="10" align="center"]