If you’re a parent, you know that your child or children can be little angels one minute, and … well, not so angelic the next. I talk about Caroline on the air a lot, but I’ve promised myself I would never become one of those parents who thinks their kid is perfect. Caroline reminded me of her imperfection Thursday night. But she more than made up for it Friday morning.
To give you a full understanding of the “contrasting Carolines,” I have to take you back to Monday night, to a story I shared with Caroline. If you haven’t heard about this, it’s going to send chills down your spine. If it doesn’t, your “chill sender” is broken!
Someone had reposted on Facebook the 2005 NBC report about a 12 year old girl in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, who had been kidnapped and beaten by a group of men trying to force her into an arranged marriage. She had been missing for more than a week when she was found …
… being guarded and protected by three lions.
Yeah, you read that right. The police told reporters that the lions had chased off the girl’s attackers and were sitting with her when they arrived. As the police got out of their vehicles, fearing the worst was about to happen to the girl, the lions simply got up and walked away.
“They stood guard until we found her and then they just left her like a gift and went back into the forest.”
Sgt. Wondimu Wedajo
Caroline was understandably giddy about this story. We had a lengthy discussion Monday night, during which she wondered aloud whether the lions might have been angels sent by God to rescue the little girl. We enjoyed the conversation. Life moved on and, by Tuesday night, I had forgotten all about the guardian lion story.
Open mic night for Caroline
Thursday night, my wife and her co-workers had a little get-together for one of their colleagues who is retiring. Children were invited, so we took Caroline. And, as is the case anytime she’s around a crowd, Caroline got to try out her stand-up comedy routine on a fresh audience. (Like father, like daughter!)
She decided, at the point when she was the absolute center of attention to start regaling her new fans with “daddy stories.” That’s really only fair, since I talk about her on the air so often. But, after several stories, I could tell Caroline was getting ready to step off into the land of embelishment. That could be good … I might end up being a superhero who averted a nuclear war ala NCIS: Los Angeles … or it could be bad … I might acquire some of the characteristics of the villains from an episode of Scooby Doo.
So, I decided to let Caroline know that she’d told enough “daddy stories.” To which she responded, and I quote:
“If you don’t want me communicating stories about you, then you just need to not listen.”
Everyone laughed, including me. But, a couple of the people present cut their eyes at her. And I knew we would have to talk about this later. She hadn’t said it in a mean way. I knew she was “picking at” me, the same way I “pick at” her. She was just “going for a laugh” in an obviously good natured way.
But I also knew that her comment could have been perceived as disrespectful by some of my wife’s colleagues. Caroline needed to know that. So, we talked about it in the car on the way home, while my wife/her mommy drove the other car. Everything was fine and I even posted about her entertaining the dinner crowd on Facebook late last night.
God, it seems like you’re making things happen…
Every weekday, when we get close to Caroline’s school, we say prayers for the day. Sometimes Caroline says the prayers. Sometimes I pray. When I do the praying, I always ask Caroline before I say “amen” if there’s anything she wants to add. This morning, there was; she asked me to pray about “Illinois.” I didn’t figure out that she was talking about the girl being guarded by the lions in Ethiopia.
She said she would just pray about it herself. And then these words came from my seven year old little girl’s mouth…
“God, thank you for sending the lions to protect that little girl. Thank you for using them to show people the Bible is true. God, it seems like you’re making things happen from the stories in the Bible so that people who don’t believe in you will know that everything in the Bible really happened. Thank you! In Jesus name, amen.”
After she said “amen,” I was speechless. Caroline looked at me and matter-of-factly explained that the story about the lions guarding the girl was “obviously” – her word – God’s way of reenacting the Bible story of Daniel in the lion’s den.
Trying to hold back the tears, I told Caroline I loved her. She bounded out of the car and into her school, as if we hadn’t just had an amazingly significant, deeply spiritual moment.
I called my wife to tell her how our daughter had just melted my heart … again.
“… so that he will be a Christian like me”
Caroline still talks frequently about being a missionary to China when she grows up. When she talks about sharing her faith with “the president of China, so that he will be a Christian like me,” she says it in the same declarative way that she states that she likes spaghetti better than mac and cheese.
I don’t know if God is calling Caroline to be a missionary to China, or not. I do know that she has more faith and, in many cases, spiritual maturity at age seven than I did at age 27. And I know she has a heart for people and a sense of compassion that most definitely came from her mother, the “mercy person” in our family.
I also know that God has already called Caroline to the ministry of teaching … teaching her father to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God.”
P.S. You’re going to read this blog post someday and it’s going to embarrass you. Don’t let it. You are a wonderful daughter, an amazing “little Christ” (that’s what “Christian” literally means), and your mother and I could not possibly be any prouder of who you are, or of the woman of God that you’re going to become. ~ ily!