Olivia Naum is today’s guest blogger. She instructs kickboxing, serves with her husband on the leadership team at their local church, and does a ton of other things that bio lines take the spark out of.
I like getting “A”s. I used to get a lot of ’em back in the day. God gave me some easy money when it came to academic skills. Think Hermione Granger. I like keeping things neat and tidy. I always sit in the front row. I never procrastinated in college, never pulled an all-nighter, never felt the slightest desire to coast in any class. I skipped a class once my senior year, just to say I did it. (Lest I take credit for being in the slightest bit free-spirited, the class I cut was a general education course where my “A” was already assured.) So I graduated with some medals and junk, all of which serve no purpose in real time, and even at the time, seemed a little anti-climatic.
So, fast forward an undisclosed amount of time… a certain Justin Ryan Boyer asks me to write a creative piece to share with the church on Pentecost Sunday.
(Cue accommodating automaton voice) “Sure!” I answered brightly. “I can manufacture creative stuff!”
Then he began to describe the assignment: sharing a mother’s heart of blessing for the newborn church. Ummm….okay. I’m a mother, right? I love the church, right? This should magically flow out of me, and I can move on to other things I need to get done. But…for some reason, this project LAID ME LOW. I couldn’t even bring myself to sit down and type anything. I was terrified. At first, I just heard a bunch of noise–static really–muttering various iterations of “You can’t do this.” Then the sounds came into focus: “You don’t actually have a mother’s heart.” And “You don’t actually know the church, let alone have a heart to bless her.” So much for cranking out a squeaky clean essay weeks ahead of time. I sat at the laptop on multiple occasions, laboriously typing, deleting, typing again. My unsuspecting husband had the misfortune of walking in on me a couple of times, and I turned on him like a wounded be-otch-o-saurus. (Sorry Barry! We need a date night!)
Then I realized (not all at once, but sort of at the speed of an ice cube melting at 33 degrees Fahrenheit) that all the blessings I was declaring were blessings which I, myself, so often do not embrace. Those accusations of being a fraud that filled my mind were describing an Olivia apart from the grace of God, not the Olivia who was sitting at the computer, covered by blood of Jesus. It is okay, as an imperfect, limited, quirky, impossible person, to speak to those things which I have not attained.
I am part of the church. I am in desperate need of blessing. I need a child’s trust in her perfect, all-sufficient father. I need more than always wanting to get “A”s. And so, I kept typing…
A Spirit of Blessing
I will never forget the day you were born…a day like no other. It’s funny, but waiting for you seemed to take forever, but then—suddenly–you were here! It was all a rush of excitement and chaos and pain and bustle and noise. And there you were. Beautiful and new. And my heart is bursting with all I desire for you. Little one, these are my hopes for you:
You will often be misunderstood. People will make fun of you, scorn you, call you a hoax and a painkiller and a fraud. Don’t be discouraged. You are perfect in your imperfection. You are the apple of your Daddy’s eye.
Be patient with your brothers and sisters. I know you will have conflicts, but make peace whenever possible. Don’t hold grudges or compete with them. Your Daddy has love enough for all of you, and he delights when his little ones love each other.
My lovely one, the day will come when you will second-guess your beauty. You’ll be tempted to tan your skin and change your shape and bind your feet and cinch your waist. Tempted to exchange your simple robes for ones that impress everyone on the street. Tempted to change your accent and overhaul your vocabulary, to resist the carefree laughter of childhood. But never forget that you have your Daddy’s eyes, his laugh, his irresistible presence. Your Dad finds you beautiful just as you are.
One day you may grow restless and long for a different life. Maybe you will crave the power and influence of others around you. Maybe you will become ashamed of your story, and how you came to be. Take your anger and your questions to your Daddy. You cannot scare him away.
It grieves me to my very core that you will experience pain. There are hurts, both overwhelmingly huge ones and seemingly insignificant ones, that will seek to take root in your heart and choke you out and extinguish your life. You will be tempted to deal with these hurts on your own, to cultivate a mirage that fools everyone around you—even you yourself. Little one, do not be deceived. Take your hurts to Daddy, listen to him, and receive his messengers of truth. Your father wields the only sword that can bring pain to its knees, and is the only one who destroys the darkness for good. Let him in! Do not hide in your pain.
Little one, roam the halls of Daddy’s mansions, play in the beautiful fountain, enjoy the feast he has prepared for you at the table. But never, ever forget the ones who beg just outside your doors. The little ones, weak with hunger, disfigured with pain, in smelly clothes that were never meant for them. Won’t you share from the endless store your father has given you? Won’t you hug the unhuggable, and speak to the lonely ones, learn the names of the ones who’ve been forgotten? Oh yes, and don’t forget to run home and thank your Dad. He has faithfully given you all that you need, and will never, ever forget you.
My child, I would love to keep you close and hear your feet patter down the hall forever, but one day you must grow up. You must listen to your Daddy’s voice, and become what he wants you to be. Be brave! Trust your Dad; he sees you now, and he sees what you can become. He’s never wrong.
Finally, dearest one, never lose your thirst to learn and grow and change. In this life, you will never have all the answers, you will never concoct a formula that makes everything turn out right. Fools will prove you wrong, the young and old alike will astonish you with their wisdom. Listen, listen, listen. Your Daddy doesn’t love you because you are right. He loves you because you are His.