Her legs were swinging far from the floor where crumbs gave evidence to which was her favorite place to sit. She crunched away, surely making more to add to the lot. Mark and I chatted about our next trip to China, engaging her in the conversation when we could. There was no real agenda, no overthinking, nothing planned. Then, mid-bite, legs still swinging, she asked, “What if you hadn’t picked me and picked someone else instead?”
Seemingly meaningless conversation over.
Her eyes were locked on me waiting for a response. It would be generous to say I had 2 ½ seconds to formulate a response, plenty long enough to hold my breath and think foolishly.
I know I have a children’s book somewhere that would be right for this moment. Shoot! Where did I put that? Which one was it again?
Isn’t that a bit too deep for her? She’s so young to be asking something like that.
I so wanted a script. Someone tell me what to say, and I’ll say it. Someone tell me the right words to offer my child in this moment as her six-year-old soul wrestles to make sense of her story. I want the right words.
I came close and ran my hand over her long, tangled hair as words I didn’t have a chance to think through came out. “Well, that would have been super super sad, because I can’t imagine if you weren’t mine!” and I tickled her as she belly laughed and happily returned to the goodies in front of her, swinging her legs with a bit more excitement and a smile.
It was months ago now. On this side of that conversation, I can think of so much more thought provoking, spiritual, wise words I could have offered her. I could have told her again about when we knew we were not just going to China for a little girl but that we were going for her. I could have talked about God’s sovereignty, how He led us and how we’ve seen His hand on her from the beginning. I could have probed and answered her question with another question to try to understand what she was thinking and feeling and what led to her asking.
I could have given her thought provoking, spiritual, and wise. Instead, all I came up with in the moment was simple. And, that was enough. Those simple words, the touch that went with them, and the shared giggles met her at her place of need. At that moment, in this conversation, she didn’t need me to go deep; she just wanted to know that she is loved, that her place in our family is securely rooted, that we weren’t thinking we made a mistake. She needed to know that I wouldn’t want her anywhere else but by my side. She didn’t need the right words as much as she needed the right message which is a graciously bigger thing than a single conversation and perfect verbiage. In spite of my frailty, I nailed the right message.
I love manuals. I love explicit instructions and A + B = C. But, I’ve learned that I’m better off closing up the manuals and opening something bigger up. I’m a better mom to her if I study books and research less and just study her.
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