Points to Ponder: 503, 499 Elizabeths
Points to Ponder
503, 499 Elizabeths
When we moved from our urban parsonage in Laurel to our rural home in Clear Spring, our eight-year-old, Elizabeth, struggled with the changes. No friends, nothing familiar, and a smaller church family and facility than the one in which she'd grown up. Not a happy camper. Then with her arm in a sling at the start of the school year, she was both physically and socially handicapped; not allowed or able to play like the other kids. She felt even more isolated. Just recently, she had to start wearing glasses. Her first year in Clear Spring, needless to say, has been challenging.
It was my accepting the senior pastor position at Hilltop that brought us here; therefore, all of this was "my fault". But, surprisingly, Elizabeth has not directly jumped on me. She still loves me. I'll pay for this later, I'm sure, when she's a teenager.
I try to be her biggest fan, encouraging her, hugging her, and telling her I love her. One particular low self-esteem day for her, when she was sullen and mopey, we were waiting for the school bus. I put my arm around her and squeezed her. I said proudly, "Out of the 503,499 Elizabeths in the world, we got the best one!" I throw that number around a lot now, having a little fun with her. I think she rolls her eyes, but usually with a slight grin.
When we got the eyeglasses, she was not excited. She worried about being called names. "What do I do," she asked, "if someone at school calls me 'four eyes'?" (referring to the boys). I said to tell him, "Yeah, and I used to think you were good looking."
But, better than having a good comeback line is knowing in your heart that you're okay. I think that if a girl knows her daddy thinks she's beautiful, the pain of others' disapproval can be better dealt with, if not thwarted.
At the opticians, I told her that her glasses looked good - so good that I was motivated to get a newer style myself. I looked at her and said, "Out of all 503,499 Elizabeths in the whole world, you are mine. I think you are beautiful." She didn't think she looked so good, but there was that little grin.
Deep inside she's probably thinking, "How does he know that there are 503,499 Elizabeths in the world?" But then she also knows that Daddy's love defies logic. (And Dad's not good at math either. That's why Mom balances the check book.)
Of course, my census figure was questioned. So, I simply explained that there are old Elizabeths and there are newer models coming along. Elizabeths come and go across the world stage, BUT God gave us the Elizabeth we got. How could we do better than that? Wow, you come from God.
We tell both of our girls that they were made by God and sent to us.
"Behold, children are a heritage from the lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward." (Psalm 127:3)
We call them "our girls", but they actually belong to the One who made them. David describes this very well:
"For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me. When as yet there were none of them" (Psalm 139:13-16).
And so to be a parent, either through biological means or by adoption, the child in our care is a stewardship given by God. Not property, but each is a unique, one-of-a-kind creation that will never be repeated. What God said to the young prophet Jeremiah could be applicable to any of us. Just a teen at the time of his calling, God said,
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you . . ." (Jeremiah 1:5).
I don't think anyone slipped into the world without God knowing about it. If life begins at conception, well, who causes that? Science proves (whether your politics agree or not) that at conception the complete DNA blueprint for a human person is in place. And God knows who that person is before the pregnancy test detects that person is even there.
What greater gift can we give to our children than the knowledge that their parents are their biggest fans, that no one could love them more? To see our kids as persons whom God has formed for His own unique purpose, whom He has assigned to us for care and for training, puts the roles of dad and mom in a different light.
In a lot of ways I think I could improve as a father, but this one thing I know: my love for our two girls compels me to sacrifice, to strive for self-improvement, and to never tire of hugging them. Joanna, our youngest, comes running and knows "Daddy is my daddy! All mine." And out of 503,499 of them, our Elizabeth knows her daddy thinks she's the best.
There are many ways we fathers can fail, but "love never fails" (I Corinthians 13:8a). Keep trying. Keep loving.
Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship, of Clear Spring, MD. These articles are also found at www.HilltopChristianFellowship.com