by Ken Gire
I heard a cry one evening from my daughter. She had returned from a party at a friend's home, where a bunch of kids from her school had come to watch the Super Bowl. When I opened the door, it framed what looked to me a full-length portrait of sadness.
"How was the party?" I asked. "Okay," she said, her eyes turned downward.
"Are you okay?" I asked. She nodded. "Your sure?" She nodded again and went downstairs to her room.
I could see, even on the surface, that inside she was hurting. I could also see that she didn't want to talk, not then anyway. Later that evening she came to the kitchen, where my wife and I were, and fixed herself a bowl of ice cream. When I put my arm around her and asked how she was doing, she burst into tears. And through her tears, she said: "Nobody at school likes me."
"That's not true," I said, trying to console her. "Lots of people like you."
"No they don't. No one talks to me. And whenever they do, I can tell they just feel sorry for me, feel they have to say something when they see me in the hall. But I know they don't really want to. I've been there two years, and nobody wants to get to know me. Nobody."
I held her as she cried. It broke our hearts to hear those words, to see this precious person we love reduced to tears, feeling so worthless and so hopeless. After a few minutes, the tears ran their course and dried.
When they did, my wife and I talked with her about the rejection Christ went through when He came to earth. Even in His hometown. Even from His friends, His own family. He had so much inside He wanted to share. But so many people didn't want to hear, didn't have the time, didn't care about looking beneath the surface, had other places to go, other people in their lives who were more important, more interesting. Part of the Savior's suffering, we told her, involved rejection. It involved people ignoring Him, turning their backs on Him, walking away from Him. Through the rejection at school, she had entered into what the Bible calls "the fellowship of His suffering"(Phil. 3:10). Although the rejection was mild in comparison to His, through it our daughter felt something of the Savior's pain when He walked this earth, something of His loneliness, something of His sadness. She was learning things about Christ that she could never learn in a school where she was the most popular kid. And what she learned would help her understand Him more, appreciate Him more, and love Him more.
The words seemed to help. We told her she could have the next day off from school, if she wanted to. And she did. Then she asked a question that forced my whole system of values to come out of hiding: "What are you doing tomorrow?"
It wasn't a question, really. It was an invitation. She was asking me to spend the day with her, but she didn't want me to feel the pressure to do it if I were too busy. Which I was. I was behind in my work and feverishly trying to catch up. But suddenly catching up didn't seem all that important. Not at the moment anyway. I knew something sacred was at stake in that moment. And though I didn't know exactly what it was, I knew what it wasn't. It wasn't my work.
"I don't think it's fair that you should be the only one to get the day off," I said. "Why don't we both take off, spend the whole day together."
"I'd like that," she said, and her face beamed.
Then, she said, "Ya know, Dad, this is one of those memories I'll treasure the rest of my life."
The next day we didn't talk about anything in particular, certainly nothing life-changing. We just spent the day together and had fun.
All that day I thought about her words the night before. I think about them still "Ya know, Dad, this is one of those memories I'll treasure the rest of my life."
You would think those words make me feel like Father-of-the-Year. Just the opposite. As I reflected on what she said, I thought to myself, I came so close to missing that time with her, missing making a memory that my daughter would treasure the rest of her life. And I realized how many times like that I had missed over the years. Not just with her but with the other kids, with my wife, my friends, other members of my family. And the loss of those times, the loss of those moments in the lives of the people I loved and in my own life, made me sad.
It also made me determined. To slow down, so I can see when those moments present themselves. To stop, so I can honor them. To respond, so I would not pass by those moments without in some way touching them and without them in some way touching me.
Too many of those moments have passed me by.
I don't want to miss any more of them.
Life's too short. And too sacred.
Excerpt from The Reflective Life by Ken Gire, Chariot Victor Publishing.
Ken Gire is the author of more than a dozen books. Ken has also been involved in
the ministries of Young Life and Insight for Living. He and his wife, Judy, have
four children and two grandchildren, and make their home in Monument, Colorado.