Let me take you back several weeks with me. The scene would be my almost 7 year old daughter sitting on a couch asking me when we are going to send out her birthday party invitations. Birthday invitations, yep, almost forgot those. In all the planning of when the party will be scheduled, what the theme will be, what decorations we'll use, what the cake will be decorated as and how many people we will invite, we somehow missed also figuring out WHO we will invite and actually getting the invitations in the mail. Oh the woes of birthday party planning...there is so much to do. However, we did have to get those invitations out because the party was just a few weeks away and the rest would be pointless if there were not people there to enjoy it all. So, with that background, the work of the Lord began.
I told Lily to get a piece of paper and write down the names of the girls she wanted to invite to her party. We previously agreed to invite only 6 girls this year because, with her included, that would make 7 girls total and she was turning 7 years old--seemed fitting. (Last year we had 13 girls and it was...well...a tad overwhelming). So, with pencil and paper in hand, Lily made her list. When she handed it to me, I was surprised to see names of young girls I had never heard of before instead of the familiar names of the ones we've seen grow up beside our daughter over the past 7 years. Where were the names of her closest friends?
Instantly, I began to derail the work of the Lord. "Um, Lil, I don't even know these girls. Who are they? Why didn't you put your best friends on the list?"
Looking at me like she had never even thought of that notion, Lily answered, "Well, these are some of the people I know from school and the bus, Mom. I wanted to invite them to my party."
Still oblivious to my undermining, I said, "Well, that's sweet of you, Honey, but since you can only invite 6 girls, don't you want those to be your closest friends? Don't you think your friends will be sad if they are not invited to your party while other people you don't know very well were?"
"But, Mom," Lily pleaded, "these girls haven't ever been to my house yet and I thought it would be fun to have them come to my party so I could show them where we live and my room and toys and stuff."
To which, in my not-so-glamorous moment, I replied, "Well, I understand that you want to have other girls over but let's do that some other time this summer and invite your closest friends to your birthday party instead, okay? That way you get to celebrate with your friends!"
With a roll of the eyes and a "Yes, Mom," Lily began erasing well-meaning names off her list and replacing them with her "closer" friends just like her mother told her to do. (Insert hind-sight shutter).
Mind you, I had no guilt over my decision to have Lily change her invitation list. No reservation that I had perhaps not made the right choice. No further thoughts that made me question if my motherly advise was good or not. I mean, come on, this is what parties are like, right? A place of celebration where our closest friends surround us and cheer us on. A place where you are the highlighted person amongst your peers or co-workers or family members for a short time because of an accomplishment of some sort--like turning another year older. For young girls, a birthday party is a place where you get to open presents, eat cake, and laugh the hours away with all of your friends. It's not a time or place where you actually do Kingdom work...is it? Well, I believe God has a differing opinion than I did.
The very next morning, forgetting the events with my daughter the evening before, I opened up my Good Morning Girls Bible study reading to a passage in Luke 14. That's when everything started to unravel and God got my attention. If there is any question on whether the Bible still applies today, this is an example of how I could answer that with a profound "YES!" The active and applicable Word of God is what opened my eyes to the Truth. Read with me...
"Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Ouch...a good ouch. Instantaneously, I had complete conviction over my oh-so-wise mothering decisions the evening before. How could I be so blind to the way I was misguiding my precious daughter away from her innocent and tender way of being a follower of Christ's ways? How could I be so gullible to following the ways of this world...the ways of adults...the ways of conditioned people who think selfishly of who they WANT to be around for a few hours instead of who they SHOULD be around for a few hours. How did I miss the holiness of my daughter's choice of guests? I was so grateful for the wake up call. So grateful for God's Word. So grateful He didn't leave me in my shallowness, but drew me into a deeper knowledge of His ways and His desires. I knew I needed to have a talk with Lily when she got off the bus that afternoon and was so excited to express my sincere apologies and seek forgiveness from her.
After Lily bounded off the bus, I sat down on the couch with her and told her I needed to show her what I read in the Bible that morning. We read the passage together and I apologized for not following what Christ had taught there. I also thanked her for her heart's desire to reach out to those who had never had the chance to come to our house or be invited to one of her special parties. I made sure she knew she was very, very right in her train of thought and that her heart was so very good. I told her, in the end, it really didn't matter who she invited to the party--whether it was some of her closer friends and family or girls she had never invited over before. What was important was following the whispers Christ had put into her heart and not allowing others (even her very own mother) stand in the way of that. I gave her the paper back and told her to please invite whomever she wanted to invite, and that if there were new friends on that list, I would be excited to get to know them better.
So, she did rewrite the list...back to the original almost and I couldn't have been more elated. A 7 year old missionary of Christ's love. Yep, that is what I have growing up in my presence. A 7 year old who has a heart that beats to the drum of the Lord. A 7 year old who is willing to sacrifice sharing cake with her "besties" in order to bring others into her home who haven't had that chance yet. A 7 year old who is more focused on others feeling included and loved than on what others will think of her decisions. A 7 year old who I am so very blessed to have as my daughter. A 7 year old who just schooled her mom on how to live like Jesus.
I'm thanking the Lord for her today. Thanking the Lord for using her and His Word to teach me, once again, that even though I'm the mother, sometimes mothers don't always know what's best.
P.S. She had a fun, crazy loud party with other precious young girls whom we were blessed to get to know a little better. Praise the Lord!