Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. – Ephesians 5.1-2, The Message
She’s got my bent towards anxiety. I can see it in her already, even in her early years. My little one frets over her art, erasing and erasing when it isn’t up to her standards of perfection. Tears threaten and she moans in frustration, throwing down her pencil in defeat.
She also has my fierce belief in hope; that I can see, too. In her innocence, she believes she can change the world. She hasn’t seen the opposition that is coming nor felt the weight that can crush a hopeful heart. I want to protect her from those hurts, but I also know they will make her stronger if she can endure them.
When the calendar pages turned to 2017, she went back to school, the last half of second grade awaiting her. My little bundle of light and dark warring against each other—worry and wonder shining in her bright blue eyes—bounded in the house, excited to tell me about her day at school.
She asked me what that “R” word is that means you make a promise you have to keep. A little confused, I pressed on and she said, “You know, you make them at the beginning of the year?”
“Oh, resolutions,” I said and she nodded furiously. “Yeah, we made resolutions today and I have two.”
Crawling up in my lap, her eyes brimmed with excitement and I asked her to tell me about them. She recited them like the lines of a play she had committed to heart.
“First, I am going to be grateful for each day I have because God made that day and we have no idea how many days we get. Each might be our last and I’d rather spend my last day happy than with a bad attitude,” she said proudly. Wow, she has been listening in our quiet times of bedtime prayer when she fidgets and squirms, when I think her thoughts are anywhere but on praying.
“Second, I promise to do something kind each day for at least one person,” she said between swings of her legs and shifting, her way of moving every second she is awake.
I stopped her for a moment, holding her face to mine so that she had to look in my eyes. Be still a moment. Just a moment. Hear me, little one.
“Those are the best resolutions I think I’ve ever heard,” I told her. “I am so proud of you and your kind heart. And you know what?” I asked and made sure she was still as she looked into my eyes, really listening. “You can do it,” I told her. “You can make a difference in your kindness. If only to one person a day. If only one day at a time. You can do it.” A few minutes later she was bouncing through the room as usual and I prayed she really heard me.
My heart swells and breaks for her at the same time. There is a world out there that will tell her she is weak when there is an untapped strength in her waiting to burst forth. There are people who will tell her that hope is foolish and her faith is out of touch with reality while her innocent belief is being formed into what will guide her through life.
There are voices that will discourage her, trample her hope, and douse the fire burning inside to love and serve God and others. She believes she can change the world and I want to cultivate that belief in her. In every heart that believes it…or struggles to hold that belief they used to be sure of.
So to my little one and to all those out there who hold onto hope in a world that screams of despair, I say:
There is such a capacity to be fearless in you, but you walk through the world with such careful steps. Step boldly, no matter your size, no matter your age. You are strong. Rise.
The world around you speaks in tones of fear and hate. Don’t lose the sweet and tender spirit that allows you to speak of the promise of change. Speak love. Rise.
There are those who will tell you there are places you aren’t allowed, that there are things you can’t do as a girl. Don’t believe them. You are a vessel for the power of God Almighty. You can do anything He asks you to do. Rise.
There are people who have stories to be told and voices that need to be heard but the powers of the world trample them and keep them down. Never stop having compassion and never stop fighting for those who need you to fight. You can be their strength. You can make sure people listen to their voices. Be an ally. Be a defender of the weak. Be one who seeks justice, no matter the cost. Rise.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” —Isaiah 60:1 (NIV)