Look How Far She’s Come
“I’ve never had a flower in my room before,” she said, distracted, as if she was thinking out loud. She carried the bud vase with a carnation over to her bookshelf for safer keeping.
Eden’s first ballet performance was on Saturday. As a gift to all the girls, their teacher gave them each a red carnation. It is Eden’s medal of achievement. Being a dancer in our kitchen isn’t quite the same as performing in front of a room full of adults. Even Caleb spent the week paying reverence to Eden’s ballet performance. His sister, the ballerina.
The Saturday morning of the performance I settled into my usual spot in the prayer room. I had been asking God to give me His eyes for Eden. How do you see her, Lord?
You see, the past few months have uncovered new challenges. Our 5 year-old loves well. She has inherent zeal for God, people, life, and anything she deems beautiful (which is pretty much everything). There is a very porcelain side of her — untainted, exactly as it should be. But like any child, she has a heart in need of training. Last summer, we welcomed a 3 1/2 year old in our arms whose history is evident in more than just the 9 month-old’s clothes she wore at that time.
In the same year she learned to use a fork, she learned how to empty the dishwasher. How to color — period — and not eat the crayons came not too long before writing her name. Having a grateful heart piggybacked “don’t touch the hot stove.” Her infant, toddler, kindergartner training has been combined.
Perhaps obvious to others, it took me until recently to realize that we are addressing some 1 and 2 year-old issues in our 5 year-old. She’s a quick study with a genuine desire for obedience, but 3/4 of her life has been outside of our home.
I’ve been a little lost, without any grid. I’m a linear thinker who loves guidelines. Having no biological children as a reference and only friends’ children who have been with them since birth as a comparison, I’ve floundered. Hence the prayer on Saturday morning, how do you see her?
And God’s response: “Look how far she’s come.”
That exact phrase in my spirit. His gaze higher. Or deeper.
Enter the ballet performance, just two hours later. Eden is (literally) half the size of the tallest girl in her 5 – 6 year-old class. Swimming in her ballet skirt, her stance shows no sign of insecurity.
Just minutes before the show started, the girls’ faces radiated, even the most shy of them. Today was their big day. When the music started, smiles were replaced by concentrated looks from counting steps. Eden’s eyes were fixed on her instructor.
Each of the girls clearly knew their part. So did Eden … for the first thirty seconds. But what she lacked in coordination, she made up for in energy. Where theirs were dainty toe taps, hers was an Irish jig. And when they shuffled quietly to one end of the room or the other, she galloped.
Synchronization wasn’t her specialty. They went left, she went right. They moved up, she went back. Girls winced as they avoided head-on collisions with my little African, pummeling herself their way with full dramatic force. Then when they all paused for a gracious plie, my little girl wore the look of Clara in the nutcracker. Her day had come.
Her face shined. She carried the confidence of a child that knows she is loved. This, no small step for a former orphan. And while her performance may tempt me to hone in on the list of developmental mile-markers she needs to catch up on, instead I’m choosing to revel in this. She has come so far.
His words. His verdict. My Father is breathing hope into every aspect of my life. Where 2010 was the year to fall in love, 2011 is showing early signs of the year to discover hope.
I sometimes look at the work we have ahead of us, not just with our current litter — but with two more who will require some de-programming and crash-course training — with dread. But He stops me in my tracks. He pulls me aside, cups His mouth to my ear and whispers: look how far we’ve come.
The girl, who still laments the days where she had “no place to sleep” and no food is learning stewardship of her own bedroom. And sprucing it up with flowers. But more importantly, the orphan who frowned in most all of our first pictures of her, is obliviously dancing with the fearlessness of a daughter.
With that landscape, how can I not hope?