Friday, October 28, 2016

The bigger picture, by Isla

Isla whispered in my ear that she'd like to talk to me in private. I was caught a little off guard. These requests for secluded conversations are a new thing for us. I dropped the dish towel I was holding and wiped my hands dry on my jeans as I followed her upstairs to her room, bracing myself for the worst. She has always been my kid that feels deeply yet is resistant to sharing the details when she is struggling. I was anticipating something terrible - a confession of some mistake she'd made or how she was being bullied at school or, dare I even say it, how someone had touched her inappropriately.

She took my hand and led me to the space past the end of her bed, a little patch of her room that we've termed the "Cool Down Corner." It is nothing glamorous - just a simple layering of blankets and pillows and all things soft and cozy, arranged just so to convert the hard wood floor underneath into something more welcoming. We often read there at night and I must admit, it's the perfect set up for normalizing ones blood pressure when it reaches a tipping point. The corner is completed with a life-sized giant brown teddy bear that is perfect for hugging and snuggling (and a good bout of sibling rivalry).

We sat down in the corner and arranged ourselves in our usual places again the cushioning. I inhaled deeply and poised myself as best I could, anticipating the blow from what she was about to say. Isla turned to look at me seriously and then in a small, quiet voice she said: "I'd like to talk to you about voting."

Relief washed through me and I had to gulp to swallow the giggle that was forming in my throat. Well THAT was not the topic I was expecting!

I stared hard at the wall, willing my lips to keep them from turning upward. In the most business-like voice I could muster, I responded "OK Isla, let's talk about voting."

Conversations from earlier in the day flashed through my memory. Just that morning, she had asked me if I had decided yet who to vote for in the upcoming presidential election. The brief dialogue took place in the middle of the before-school morning rush and I only had time to tell her in passing that no, I hadn't yet decided. And so, my perceptive, amazing child was concerned for me and the challenging decision that lay ahead and had taken it upon herself to help me in the process.

I couldn't wait to hear what nuggets of wisdom she might have to share with me but nothing could have prepared me for what she said next.

"I was just thinking....people can change. No matter who the president is, they can change. I just felt like I should tell you that and maybe that will help you decide."

I was speechless. Where was this coming from? Without a doubt, the conversations taking place in our home have illustrated the fact that we believe both of the main presidential candidates to be extremely flawed. But this idea that they can change, that who they are, what they have done in the past and what they stand for in this moment isn't the end-all-be-all.... She had most certainly taken the topic three steps further than we ever had.

I knew they had been learning some about the election process at school - could this be the message they were preaching? I was curious.

"Sweetheart, that is a very good point," I praised. "You have wisdom well beyond your years. What made you think of this?"

"I was just reading in my Bible this morning," she started. "And it made me think about how people can change. I wanted to tell you because I thought maybe thinking about that might help you in your voting."

Then she proceeded to share with me an example from her own life - how the classmate that troubled her throughout her kindergarten year had, with time, changed and grown and and how she felt things were getting better for her at school.

I was speechless again. And PROUD. Man, was I ever proud. This sweet soul, this SEVEN YEAR OLD soul was giving me political advice. And pretty darn good advice at that, if I do say so myself. It dawned on me how easily we can waste away our hours, fretting, worrying, obsessing and get absolutely immersed so deeply into the trench of thinking that how we cast our ballet next week is the be-all-end-all of America. Really?

I don't mean to sound dismissive - this election IS important and I most certainly WILL be casting my vote. But I'm with Isla and I'm not going to fixate too much on which individual lands the gig of 45th president of the United States of America. Instead, I'm choosing to expend my energy clinging to Christ whom all authority is under.

I can't help but think of Paul (formerly Saul) in the book of Acts who began as one of the strongest persecuters against Christians. And how he, the most unlikely of candidates, encountered God on the road to Damascus and soon became one of the most influential people for Christ in the New Testament. Beautiful. And I love it.

So yeah, maybe my 7 year old has it boiled down just about right. People can change. True, they might not. And maybe we won't see big change even in our lifetimes. But it's true - people can change. We serve a big and powerful God and my girl has a point. And so, on this day, in this time of uncertainty, I'm oh so very grateful for the fresh and innocent perspective of my precious girl. She is focusing on the bigger picture - and maybe we should too.

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posted by kelsie