A couple weeks back my firstborn, Abbi, started kindergarten. Since she had the opportunity to attend pre-k, this does not mark first year of school. However, kindergarten held a lot of new excitement for her: a different building, different teachers, and lots of new friends. For my gregarious child this was all positive, wonderful stuff. She tends to think of change as fun and interesting.
Partway through Abbi’s second week we were going through our bedtime routine. She had just done something mean to her sister with no provocation and I was trying to get down to the “why”. I asked her about school that day. Abbi sat next to me and it all finally came out.
“I was feeling sad because I missed my Daddy today at recess.”
I asked, “You were? Did you tell anybody?”
“No, I didn’t want anybody to know,” she replied.
“Well, honey, why didn’t you want anybody to know? Was it because you didn’t want anyone to know you were sad or because you didn’t want anyone to know your dad is dead? It doesn’t have to be a secret.”
“Well I did tell a couple of friends but I don’t want anyone to know because no one else at school has a dad that died! Everyone else has a dad.”
The burden on my heart for my daughter was great... and I also knew that this couldn’t be completely accurate. Still, her feelings needed validation. “Oh honey,” I said, “you go to a big school. There are probably other kids there who have a daddy or mommy who died, but you might not know them. I know it’s hard to feel alone.”
She thought a moment. “Well,” she replied, “there is one other girl I met in the cafeteria. Only her dad isn’t dead. He’s in jail because he hit one of his kids.”
My eyes filled with tears as I heard the words from my five-year-old daughter’s lips. “That’s really sad, too, Abbi,” I answered. “That breaks my heart. That’s another little girl that can’t be with her daddy but it’s because he made a bad choice. So she feels sad sometimes about that, too.” My daughter agreed.
“I’m sorry that you feel alone. It’s really hard missing daddy. I miss him too. You remember, though, that God is a good, good, Father, right?”
“Yeah,” she answered.
“And He gives us everything we need.” I held my girls close. We talked a bit more and I prayed for them/with them. I asked Jesus to comfort Abbi’s heart and to meet her needs in ways that I cannot.
Here's what's always such a struggle for me: I am incapable of filling her need for a father. I cannot resurrect her dad. I am incapable of healing her broken heart. The truth is, she is different from many kids who have a dad and I can’t make that go away with the snap of a finger. I’m her mom and with every part of me I want to be able to do these things. I want to be able to fill her needs. I want to be able to bind up her heart in times of deep hurt. Yet—I’m just a human woman. I don’t have that kind of power because I’m not Christ. What is in my power, though, is to continue to take her to Him, to lead her to Him. He has that power. He can move the immovable mountains. He can heal the most broken of hearts. And I—I can trust Him with the heart of my beloved, sensitive little girl.