It is not always easy to practice what we preach. Often we see the Church exalting itself for what it does do, instead of humbly seeking where God would have them pour more of themselves out. Today I am going to share a story that humbled my heart. I pray you see it through eyes of grace.
My social skills have never been stellar, and yesterday I failed epically because I lacked the courage to look past what I did not have and to the One who gives freely when I ask. I wish I could think faster on my feet. I am not going to let the situation lose its value though. Even if this letter does not shine the best of light on me, I hope it encourages you to pray for eyes to see the opportunity to share Christ’s love, even if it feels awkward at first. I have learned that I would rather regret making a fool of myself than regret not saying anything at all.
All need grace and all is grace, friends.
Dear Sweet Baby Girl
I noticed you toddling through the grass when we got to the park today. I immediately wondered where your mother was. A few minutes later your older sister came to scoop you up, and bring you back to the baby area. You looked so precious with your chubby cheeks and unsure legs. As I turned on my computer to write this letter to you, I smiled through tears at a picture on my desktop of my daughter playing on the playground at about the same age you are. She is being steadied on a piece of equipment by her Papa. He followed her step by step that day. My heart breaks wondering why someone wouldn’t do the same for you.
As far as I could tell, you were the youngest of maybe six children at the park with your mother. Two others were awfully close to you in age. Your mom sat on a bench while your older sisters did their best to wrangle you little babes, while also trying to enjoy the playground themselves. Your mom looked worn and tired. Your sisters were trying their hardest to help, but I know that they wanted to be carefree children themselves.
A little while later on the other side of the park, I watched your brother toddle around alone on the big kids equipment. I didn’t know he was with you at the time. I followed him around looking for a parent, a sibling, someone who was there with this beautiful, saggy diapered, sand covered boy. I gently redirected him from places he could fall from while trying not to get too judgmental towards whoever he belonged to. Who would let such a young babe out of their sight? Your sister came a few minutes later looking for him. Thank the Lord. She looked me over questioningly, probably wondering why this random woman was following her brother around.
When we returned to the baby side of the playground, I put it all together. I saw both of your sisters with your mother and the other babies. As I stood hovering over my own daughter, you caught me in your gaze. You locked me into those big, beautiful eyes like a laser and started toddling toward me with arms lifted high. I looked up to see if anyone noticed you were walking away. No one had their eyes on you. Why did no one care that you were walking towards a total stranger? You started whining and stretching your dirt covered fingers towards me. Your arms and legs were covered with sand, and your cheeks were bright red from the heat. I knew what you wanted. I know the look of a tired babe; a babe that just wants to be held and snuggled.
You desperately wanted to be held. And baby girl, I desperately wanted to pick you up, dust you off, and get you something cold to drink. I wanted to hug you, sing with you, and give you the attention you desired. You were dirty, you were tired, and you had been on your own for far too long at that playground. I smiled the best smile I could. Oh honey, I am so sorry that I backed away from you today. I know you didn’t understand. You gave such a whimper when I did. Finally, your sister came over to get you.
My husband read all the signs. He watched what was happening and knew it was time to go. We gathered our two children and headed out. I looked back at you and your siblings several times, my heart breaking all the while. Once we loaded up in the car all I had to say is, “Did you see?”, and my hubby gently responded, “Yes. Where was their mother?”
As we were slowly driving off, I looked for her and by chance, we happened to lock eyes. She looked like she was carrying a million emotions on her shoulders, and in the eye contact I saw it, the questioning look that wondered what I was thinking of her. She had seen you walking towards me and sent your sister over. She probably saw several questionable looks on my face today. My eyes darted away from hers quickly. I wish I had the courage to turn that car around and just go offer to help her. Why didn’t I just go show her some of Christ’s love? Why was I such a coward when it was obvious she needed some support? I wish I could have told her that I wasn’t going to judge, that I just wanted to help. I wish I could have practiced what I preach.
Baby girl, you deserved better from me today. You deserved me stepping out of my comfort zone and just making conversation with your mother. Maybe she needed some attention too. With six children, I am sure she was desperate for some adult interaction.
The images of you on the playground did not leave my mind through out the drive home. I am sure they are going to haunt me for awhile. As I was washing the dirt and grime from my own little girl’s hair, I wondered whether someone would bathe you tonight. Whether your mom would have time to get you all squeaky, clean, and snuggle you before bed or whether one of your sisters would do it. Will someone embrace you tonight? Will they rub your little toes and run fingers through your hair, just like I will to my little guy?
Baby girl, I do not even know you, but you have changed my heart. You have given me the desire to start desperately praying for God to open my eyes sooner to ways I can show His love daily. I am going to start specifically praying for courage and wisdom and eyes to see the opportunity to share Christ. Next time, baby girl, if I ever get graced with a next time, I will pick you up. I will risk your mother thinking I am a crazy person as I walk over to her with her baby in my arms, and ask her if it is alright for me to sit and talk. I will ask her about her story. I will show an interest. I will be courageous. I will show love, grace, and mercy instead walking away.
I pray that you are loved and that maybe I just caught your mom on a bad day. Somehow my heart just can’t accept that. I pray that if your situation is as it looked, that God will show me the grace of seeing you and your family again. I pray He will give me a do over. I pray that He will also continually remind me that we hardly ever get a do over in life, and that I need to remember to be courageous the first time. Next time I hope I remember to pray, even if it is a shot gunner – “God, grant me courage. Help me show your love.”
God loves you, sweet girl.
The Lady Who Walked Away
Jesus calls His followers to care for those who can not care for themselves. In Matthew 25, Jesus shares an analogy of how He will separate those who are His from those who are not, as well as the eternal consequence of not following Christ.