I had another blog planned for today. In fact, I had most of it written and was getting ready to post it until something happened tonight. An exchange I had with my 6-year-old daughter caused me to bump up against a truth that I cannot escape from and my heart simply will not rest until I let it live and breathe within me.
My two sons are exceptionally intelligent. My oldest has been doing multiplication since the age of 4 and has had the aspiration of becoming an astrophysicist for nearly five years. My younger son is extraordinarily gifted in both academics and art and excels quickly and easily.
Meanwhile, my daughter, who is in kindergarten, is trying to memorize seven sight words this week with little success. We have gone over and over and over them and she seems to retain nothing of what we rehearse. I review a letter with her at least a dozen times only for her to forget it within the following minute. And tonight, as I tried desperately to help her learn the word “he” to no avail, my patience evaporated and my anger erupted. I yelled and blamed. I accused her of not focusing, of not trying, of not caring. And as my tongue wreaked havoc on her little spirit, she burst into tears and became inconsolable in the face of the failure I had charged her with. Suddenly, the weight of what I had done came crashing down and I held her, profusely apologizing and confessing.
Shortly after that I asked my oldest son if he heard what had happened with his sister. He said he did and in a moment of profound discernment, he asked me, “You’re worried about her aren’t you?” I confessed I was and asked him what he thought I was worried about. He responded confidently and clearly, “You’re worried she’s not smart.” In that moment, faced with that truth, I fell apart right there in his room. As tears streamed quietly down my face, God’s truth about who my daughter is came raining down. What if she is not smart? Will I love her less? Will she be less special? Will God’s plans for her be less profound or powerful? Of course, the answer to all these questions is no. The truth of the matter is that intelligence is not an attribute that God values, it is something the world values. And I have fallen again into a perfectly laid trap, buying into the lies about what counts, what matters and what is esteemed.
As these revelations made their way into my thoughts, I reflected on my sweet daughter and God reminded me of all the glory he has infused her with. She is an exceptional creature. She is magnificent in her joy, immeasurable in her love and extraordinary in her kindness. She is a wondrous and stunning display of God’s grace and beauty, both inside and out. And while these attributes may not win her a scholarship to Harvard, they will without question win the heart of God. And at the end of the day, that is all that counts.
Jeremiah 9:23-24 says, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.’ ” In the original Hebrew, verse 24 is astounding. Different from the words for boast used in verse 23, the word for “boast” here is halal. And this is where it gets amazing. The word halal can be translated as follows: to glory, to celebrate, to shine. To shine. I love that. God is delighted with us when we shine in our understanding and knowledge of him. When we shine in love, justice and righteousness, He is most pleased with us. And it is that very shining that draws others to us. It is the light of his love that radiates, invites and compels.
My daughter shines. She loves God and credits him with all good things in her life. She thanks him for princesses and puppies, sweets and swingsets. Her tender spirit reflects his heart consistently and contritely. I don’t know if she’ll be intelligent by the world’s standards. She may be. She may not be. But in any case, God has shown me tonight that the world’s standards do not apply to the heart. He has reminded me without doubt that what he values is far superior and valuable. He has graciously allowed me to witness the magnificent shine of his creation and I am humbled by the privilege to call her mine.