Wednesday, February 23, 2011
for Meaghan on your 14th birthday
This winter it snowed and melted, then snowed and melted again. After the blizzard, I thought surely the snow would stick around for a long, long time: barely a week or two later, it had all melted again.
Yesterday, however, it snowed again—fat, fluffy flakes—enough to cover the ground entirely in fresh white once more. It has not melted—of this I am glad. Winter should have bookends—a good snow to begin and a good snow to end as if nature would make one last statement that pure freshness will have the last say in a world that would tend towards grey and mud.
You are my snow this year, Meggie. You are the gentle renewal of this heart that would turn grey otherwise. Soft and quiet, yet lively and unique. You are God’s final word of blessing for a soul that sometimes feels cursed. That is why the thought of you makes me smile and the sight of you makes me laugh for joy.
You are 14 now.
I came to faith in Jesus when I was 14 years and 10 months old. Jesus changed my life.
Before that time, I lived how I wanted to live. I was like the boy in your home room that disrupts class—the boy who is nice to some but mean to others; the boy who gets C’s, D’s and F’s (those were my marks in 8th grade).
During 8th grade, we were poor so I received free school lunch. My mother and father were divorced and my stepfather was in and out, in and out, cheating on my mother, drinking away his paycheck at the bar. Sometimes he would grow violent so we would spend days sleeping at a friend’s house from church.
I was confused. We went to church, but I did not really know Jesus. I memorized Romans 6 in 8th grade but I did not know in my heart the power of the grace of which it spoke. I still wanted to live life my way, not God’s way.
I wanted to be the cool kid. I thought that being cool involved distancing myself from kids I thought were uncool. I remember punching Scott Shogren in the face for no other reason than because I thought he was uncool.
After I gave my life to Jesus, God taught me how to be Scott’s friend. I tried to make up for how I had treated him in middle school, but somehow I always felt like I could never make up for it. He is no longer alive—I still wish I could have those days back—I still wish I had never hit him.
I’m telling you this because I want you to know how great Jesus is. I didn’t deserve it, but God forgave me. His forgiveness changed my life. I still mess up sometimes. You see me when I become impatient, when my words are ungracious. You see when I have to ask your forgiveness or Nic’s. You see me when I have to ask God for forgiveness.
This father of yours is far from perfect. Yet, somehow, God still loves me as he loves everyone. He loves you, too, as surely as I love you.
I smile when I think that you have known Jesus your whole life, Meggie. I have seen you grow in your faith with each passing year. I have seen you befriend those in your class that others treat as uncool. I have seen you work at your studies as if you were doing it for God. I have seen you reading your Bible just because you want to read it. Each morning, I love praying with you, talking about the Scriptures with you, hearing you say what God has taught you about faith, His Word, His Son, and His People.
I can rest at night knowing that you’ll do well in high school because you always want to give God your best. I can rest knowing you’ll be a good friend to others and a loving sister to your brother. You have a big, big heart, my dear daughter. It seems hard to believe but I know it is possible: with each passing year I’ll delight to see a large heart grow even larger. I love you, Meaghan. And I bless the day you were born.