"Zest for life" was the phrase my dad used when he told me about me. As I sought to maneuver the awkwardness of pre-adolescent years -- boys and clothes and girlfriends (who said one thing in front of you and another when you weren't looking) -- my dad had me tethered. My friends held my attention at middle school dances and pep rallies and lingering at our lockers in between classes, but the words they scribbled on the notes we passed didn't carry weight like my dad's did. I can still hear his voice in my ear, talking me through the latest best-friend-skirmish and telling me who I was.
When I look back at that little girl in training bra and braces, I wonder which came first: the zest and passion or my dad's words proclaiming it to be so. There was power in his tongue.
I'm still becoming what he diagnosed.
My dad's words didn't die when he did.
I told her, once, that I thought she had the gift of hospitality. "You're gonna be a party planner, Hopey," I said to her. "You'll throw parties that make people feel loved and welcomed -- not excluded, but included and special." It was a flash of a thought as I watched her fold napkins for a family dinner. I tossed it out there, but she held it tight.
Countless lunches and snacks in between then and now, she's made smiley faces out of fruit and served up plates like an aspiring caterer just might. Still groggy with sleep in her eyes, she's setting out coffee cups and saucers for our overnight guests and finding just the right spoon for their tea. I'm taking a nap only to awaken to a pitcher full of ice, water and lemon on the side.
She's becoming what I diagnose.
One suggestion from me -- in a moment where I was especially enjoying her -- lit her all up on the inside. Just like the enjoyment of my dad made his words about me stick and take shape and form me.
Yet somehow I can manage a whole day without hearing from the Father about how He sees me. And then that day rolls into two. Three. A week has passed and I'm inhaling my own fumes of what I've not done and who I'm not and I wonder why I feel cold -- sterile --when I approach Him.
It can be a slow anemia we mamas live.
We speak words all day long. We teach and train and search for beauty in nascent hearts but we starve ourselves from the food we really need.
Can you remember the last time His Word or His whisper told you who you were?
There's nothing that impacts me more than the enjoying-me words of my Father. Today was made for me, for all thirty-something years of me, to climb right up into His lap and ask Him to cut through the lies of days and weeks (and sometimes prior years) that taunt me with all that I'm not and ask: "how do You see me, God?" Today was made for me to silence the false assumption that He's irritated with me and wishing I was someplace further along than I am -- and approach Him like the Father that He is, One who has a mouthful of kind words about me.
He likes me.
He likes what He made in me.
And when I hear from Him about me, I'm gently allured out of my spiritual dullness.
I'll wake up at 5am to cut lemons and fill ice buckets and arrange flowers for the God-Man who told me I have the gift of hospitality.
I'll referee another squabble and pick up disparate shoes and coats and happily clean food wrappers from under the seats of our Suburban for the God who whispers "I love it when you serve them and no one knows."
He has beautiful truth for us, mamas -- the kind that feels uncomfortable against this flesh of ours that so often wants to be scolded.
Are we willing to hear it?