Monday, February 25, 2008

Prepare to be Amazed

Being a parent is scary stuff. It doesn't matter how hard you try to instill Godly values into your children, the fact remains that they, like you, have been given free will by their Maker. "Raise your children in the way that they should go, and when they are old, they will not depart from it." That's what Proverbs tells us, anyways. I'd like to say that I am faithfilled enough to simply accept and believe that without question, however, I'll admit to praying, praying hard, and worrying about the paths that my children head down. Until the day that God stepped in,
and quietly showed me who was running the show.
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Cara is my youngest. At the time of this story, she was a 5th grader, shy, awkward, and anxious about her appearance. Someone had made a careless comment and she was certain that she was hugely overweight. She was terribly self conscious and no amount of parental assurances were going to make her view herself any differently.
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One Friday night, we went downtown to listen to a friend's band playing in a local park. It was a well attended concert, part of a summer Friday night concert series held in a local amphitheater. The seats circled around the stage, and the audience sits higher than the performers. We listened to some toe tapping music, soft rock classics from my own growing up years. A group of retarded citizens listened with obvious enjoyment, and eventually got up to dance. Everyone sat around listening and visiting quietly. It was a pleasant way to spend a warm summer evening.
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And then it happened. A wife of one of our elected officials, offended by the awkward movements of the retarded people, told their attendant to make them sit down. There was a huge hue and cry, as there should have been. The attendant was offended, an elderly gentleman who happened to have a retarded child was offended, and heated discussion followed. The embarrassed oficial's wife tried to say that she thought that they were distracting the band. The band jumped in to say that they were not distracted at all, the crowd grumbled that she, herself, was the big distraction. Tempers flared. The elected official looked very nervous, the wife began to look as if she wished that she had never risen from her lawn chair to speak. She apologized quickly, and sat back down.
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Cara watched this whole thing. We talked about the fact that the woman was wrong, as well as unkind. We talked about why the elderly gentleman was so offended that he could not stay for the second half of the concert. He took his lawn chairs and he and his wife left. We talked about how painful it must be to have a child handicapped in such a way that, in this instance, it made him an outcast. How much a parent loves their child, and how hard it is to watch a child being insulted or mistreated by society.
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The second half of the concert began. Cara listened for a while, and then leaned over to me in an agony. "Mom," she said, "They are not dancing. The lady apologized. Why do you think that they are not dancing?" I answered that I imagined they had heard the discussion, and despite the fact that some of them were profoundly handicapped, I would guess that they understood what was being said, and were too embarrassed to get up to dance again.
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Cara sat quietly for the next couple songs. In those days, she was a quiet kid, so this was nothing out of the ordinary. She listened and she thought and no one danced. And then came the moment that made God smile. Cara stood up. I said, "Where are you going?" And in the lofty words of a child who had spent many many hours in the company of books, she looked down at me and said, "Prepare to be amazed."
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And I was.
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Cara walked down to the front of the crowd. She walked directly up to the group of retarded men and women and she invited them to dance. One danced, and Cara danced too. I watched her red face, and I knew that she was dying in the throes of her own self consciousness, but she determinedly danced on. And slowly, one by one, the mentally challenged came from their seats. Within a couple songs, they were all dancing again, and when they were,Cara came back to sit with me.
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I have never been so proud of her. In that moment, I had a glimpse of God himself displayed in my child. In that moment, I knew who lived in my child's heart. In that moment, I recognized her as a child of God. When her Father spoke, she laid aside her own insecurities, and did His work.

10 comments:

jeanie said...

Oh, you got me all teary - how beautiful a story!!!

Pencil Writer said...

Thanks for sharing that wonderful moment. I believe God is aware of everything and everyone all the time. I also believe that children are naturally close to their Heavenly Father and listen far more to the whisperings of His Spirit than world-weary adults often do--unless they try to "tune in"!

Your daughter was obviously "tuned in, listening, and doing" what Father would have her do. We need to follow that example.

Thanks again for sharing a great example of Christ-like charity.

PaintedPromise said...

Wow Debby! your story has me in tears! way to go Cara!!!!!!!

debby said...

Pencil writer, I think that God given moments OUGHT to be shared. They are not meant for us to clutch close. That was a really freeing moment for me as a mom.

Cara is now 18, preparing to go to college this fall. She is lovely. Except for short bursts of anxiety spawned irritability. (Mom mantra: "This too shall pass. This too shall pass....")

Hal Johnson said...

I have a big lump in my throat. Moments like that will make your heart grow.

Bush Babe (of Granite Glen) said...

Wow... what a lovely, glittering moment to share with us. I can feel your pride clear across the other side of the globe. I am not a particularly religious person (as in I'm not a regular church-goer at all) and to me, moments like these take us closer to God than any amount of ritual and praying. Makes one feel like breaking into song really! Hope Cara recognises and appreciates that part of herself that made her dance with that group that night, and cherishes it the same way you do. Well done Mum! BB

A said...

How fantastic that your daughter was able to see everyone present on that day as people - with rights, and feelings, and the spirit of dance!
We are all people first, regardless of the abilities we may or may not have.
What a powerful example of inclusion from an amazing role model.

Mike said...

Oh, man!

Now that's a tear-jerker!

Cara said...

You're a good Mom, and I hope that I'm always your proof positive of this. Love you! (P.S. I need a ride to practice tomorrow...)

debby said...

Cara:

You are a suck-up.

Love, Mom.