Absolutely unthinkable how we turned around, and she turned ten.
Unbelievable — how she went from zero to ten within the blink of an eye, and a whole decade went flying with the blow of a candle.
How rapidly has time elapsed, and how quickly have we been brought down this road of the memory lane.
It’s hard to see her grow, and grow not with her.
The day she turned ten, she walked up the school’s podium to receive her award.
She stood at the edge of the stage, paper and glass plaque in hand, face beaming at the camera with her smiles a mile wide.
How she’d confessed – waiting in her seat, sitting at the edge nervous, her heart pounding fast.
She’d wondered: if her name would ever be called, if she’d ever get named.
Wondering with the rest of her friends, the whole length of that school assembly – if anyone would ever notice their year’s worth of working hard and pushing harder. If their work would mean anything to anyone at all.
Sometimes all we want might just be a piece of paper, a pat on the back, a raise in salary, a public recognition.
Sometimes what we really want might just be for someone to say that we’re worth it, that we’ve made it, that we’ve done what only we can do.
That we’re simply wonderful.
But we could chase for that recognition all we want, and never get it.
We may live seeking for just that one approval, and never obtain it.
Will our heart ever find home where we’re accepted and loved, just for who we are?
Because for all of us who thirst for that sense of significance, this is the thing:
We can’t let the world name us until we let the Word define us.
That we will never make our mark in life until we allow God to mark us for life.
The months leading to her birth, her Dad and I had sought long and hard for a name.
We prayed hard for a name that she’d be birthed into. A name to enfold her, love to wrap around her forming body as she nestled in the womb.
A name that would identify her personhood long before her productivity.
A name unique to her own special call in life.
How we talked late into the night of what she’d one day grow up to be.
We’d sat there, clueless about what this whole new shebang of parenthood would mean to us. Grappled with the idea of shifting priorities, changing routine, altering expectations. But the Word has never been confused about the one thing it says about us. And about our children:
That Peace would hallmark our children.
And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children. (Isaiah 54:13)
That Peace would reside in our children’s hearts. That Peace would guide them through different situations and transitions in life. That Peace would keep them safe from internal turmoils and external troubles.
And this Peace? He is a Person — He would name us, call us, lead us.
How we begged God for spiritual clarity in a world of moral confusion, pleaded for vision where there’s been societal compromise.
We asked for the gift of identity, the gift that would strengthen her in a world that would unkindly classify and harshly stereotype her, and us.
That the Spirit of Sonship would drive away the orphan spirit. That the grace of God would sit like a wreath on our head, reminding us of our true beauty, of who we really are. That we’d step forward into a life of true victory, rest and success.
And I kept reminding me:
That our children would never have to live in the shadow of another.
That they’d know their preciousness, and this would launch them into a life of purpose and potentials.
And that night she turned ten, I’d laid beside her, listened to the beating of her heart, and reminded her what her name actually means.
Told her that I’d sat there at the edge of the side row in that school assembly that morning, snapping away distant images on my phone camera. Told her how the images of who were up there on the stage and who were down there below were all blurring into one.
Told her how I’d spotted a boy her senior who’d been through storm that year, playing saxophone with all his heart. That I hadn’t seen a child shining brighter than him that day. That it didn’t really matter who got called and who didn’t as much as what every child was growing to be. That every child has the potential to shine in their own wonderful right.
I’d whispered to her that night: that we’d known who she is and whose she is, long before she could show what she’d achieve.
That a whole generation of parents and children can feed their souls on this truth:
We’re free to be whom God has called us to be, and there’s no stereotyping around that.
That this is the way to be ready for anything.
This is the way to lead culture rather than to be led by culture.
For it is comparison with others that allow us to gravitate towards the mediocre. And it’s living to the image of success that brings intimidation to come creeping in.
Instead of working a whole decade for the sake of others’ acceptance, why not work our hearts out everyday to accept others.
Instead of striving to be successful in the eyes of others, why not grow in the love and knowledge of the Word, and what it says about who He’s made us to be.
That we can change the way we look at ourselves and develop a spirit of excellence, instead of a spirit of strive.
“The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)
Because every pain of underachieving would blur as the Peace of God erases the harsh edges of rejection.
And knowing who you are could really lift the shroud of what the world says you need to be.
This love of God — it really smudges the years of toiling hard and striving strong — knowing that we and our children are simply loved for who we are.