I think I came a little closer to understanding the children-shine connection last month when my daughter made a new friend.
I watched my 4-year-old grasp the hand of a little girl just three years older than her. They ran around the grass, laughing and playing, as her foster father shared some of her challenges and struggles. She had been sexually abused for years by her dad. That's all she knows. Well, all she knew until she was welcomed into this loving Christian home. Now they struggle with her through night terrors, symptoms of post-traumatic stress, and learning what is proper behavior.
The little girl pulled out her little pink bike. Brylee excitedly noted, "I have a princess bike too!" The little girl held it steady and helped Brylee on to ride it. Watching from a distance, she was a normal kid having fun doing normal kid stuff--you wouldn't know anything bad had happened to her.
When I first thought about that afternoon, I felt pride of my own daughter for the way she seemed to have unconditional love for this little girl. How she didn't make fun of her silver teeth or how she was excited to play with her even though some of her behaviors and mannerisms were a little different than the kids Brylee normally plays with.
Then, I realized the child in this polariod that shined the brightest was the abused little girl. However so slightly, she is moving beyond the obvious wrong done to her. Hearing her story, my blood boils for her injustice. I feel like she has every excuse to curl up in the fetal position and give up. Instead, she has the resilience of a child, smiles and all.
In that yard, playing in the company of a new friend and under the supervision of a loving father-figure, she was no longer damaged. Her ability to forget, at least for a moment, expressed potential for some sort of forgiveness and willingness to move on. Faith in a Father even though hers abused his rights. Love for others even as she's learning what is appropriate love. Hope in a future brighter than her past.
Showing that bad things happen, but they do not define us. We shine brightest when we can move on from the darkness around us. When we can learn faith, trust, and love in spite of our circumstances. When we can put the past behind us to laugh and play and be okay, if only for an afternoon. If only long enough to let hope of the Kingdom shine through the resilience of a child.
I asked Lorilee of Loving Simple Living how she lets her lil light shine in her own little world. She shares how her kids are teaching her to share God's love...
>> This is something I have been praying a lot about lately. In a world with so much hurt, I feel like I can do so little. I know and believe that my first mission field is my children and I have chosen to stay home with them and homeschool. This is a decision that isn't as great economically for us, but I have never doubted.
However, many times I feel the kids have more to teach me about sharing God's love than I have to teach them. The other day they were both eating popsicles. My daughter kept wandering around the kitchen after I repeatedly asked her to sit down. When her popsicle fell on the floor and broke I was ready to make the most of the lesson telling her she should have listened to mom and sat down, but before I was able my son said "it's ok, you can share mine." They both sat sharing my son's popsicle lick for lick. It was a wake up call for me. <<