Why the Times You Feel Unseen by the World May be the Best Times of Your Life

“He said He loves me, Mommy,” my daughter Hope told me as I tucked her in, her words whispered with her hand to her mouth and cupped around my ear. Apparently, it was a secret. And I remembered her first dance recital, not long after we’d adopted her.

She had practiced her routine in and out of class for a semester. Every one of us in our family knew the steps. She’d spent weeks pirouetting through our kitchen with a dishcloth in hand, performing with confidence on our living room hearth.

But the night of the performance, I could feel her hand shaking in mine as I walked her down the hall to her lineup. I hurried back to my seat in the auditorium as she waited for her group to be called. I was nervous for her. I so wanted this night to be a win.

 When she relevéd out on stage among twelve other girls, I, like all the other parents, narrowed my eyes onto just my child. But several beats into the routine, I widened my scope and realized she was a step or two behind. Then three. Then four.

The other children moved in synchronized motion while my beautiful girl carefully performed her routine, too focused on her steps to notice how far behind she was. Too inexperienced to skip steps to catch up.

For seven minutes, I looked beyond her slippered feet—out of sync, arms moving in one direction while her classmates’ moved in another—and fixed my mind on her story. Alongside the others, my daughter may have been out of step, but she was also stunning. Light and joy cascaded out of her with every twirl. She had come through the fire of loss and death and hardened dreams, and tonight she was dancing.

From my seat, I could see her counting steps, her expression serious and focused. But her eyes were alert and glistening under the stage lights, not dull and weighted as they were when we’d first met her at the orphanage months before. She wasn’t posing as someone she’d learned to mimic—a common orphan survival skill. She wasn’t dancing to impress others. If she had stopped to notice others, she probably would have frozen in panic. Instead, she was costumed in God. He was making a dancer out of a street kid. This was a child who was learning to be loved.

“He said He loves me” weren’t words Hope had learned in a Sunday school song. They’d  {oh, ya’ll, I have the privilege of writing over on Ann Voskamp’s blog today. You can continue reading this post over there –>}

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