On Tuesday while Jackson was at school, Annabeth and I met my friend Heather and her youngest daughter at a local cafe for lunch. After looking at the amazing menu full of all kinds of goodness, we both chose something low-cal and without much flavor. Sad, but summer's coming! We sat down at a round table big enough for the girls' high chairs and all our bags. Next to us there was a table of six businessmen who were probably in their mid-thirties.
For some reason Annabeth, who is almost 14 months old, got bored with the lovely company at our table and got fixated on one of the guys at the table behind her. I could not get my daughter to turn her head around to save my life. She kept trying to engage this guy with her sweet smiling face and waving her hands. At first it was funny but it didn't take long for me to feel a little embarrassed and apologize to the guy. I wanted to say, "Feel free to ignore her!" Heather and I just kept talking, and I hoped they would do the same. Instead, what I heard was the other men giving that one guy a hard time, saying, "Dude! You have girlfriends of all ages!" I obviously don't know the guy, but it seemed pretty obvious that he was a ladies man.
I was horrified. When I pulled away from the restaurant I couldn't get it off my mind. I prayed, "God, please let my daughter be attracted to the right kind of guy!" I want her heart to be healthy and whole and owned by Jesus. And one day I want her to find a loving relationship with a guy who has a healthy, whole heart that's owned by Jesus, too. That's not too much to ask, is it?
When I thought I would probably only have sons, it comforted me that my husband fared so well through his teenage years. It seemed reasonable that they would turn out more like their dad than me. But then God gave me a daughter. I was thrilled but it was also sobering. I have to bring her up in this ridiculous culture that isn't known for turning out healthy, whole, Jesus-loving young women. And my teenage years were hard!
This little drama at the cafe might not have been so dramatic to me if I hadn't had a serious conversation with my mom two days before. She was concerned because I'd seemed emotionally distant for a few months. I wasn't shocked to hear that because I haven't really felt like myself lately. (I'm not sure how to describe it except to say that I've been on a little trip through the Refiner's fire and it's been a doozy.) What did shock me was hearing her say that I haven't been this emotionally distant from her since my senior year of high school. That obviously broke my heart and we had a good, long talk about it.
My last year of high school was a terrible season. My family had just undergone two major losses and were preparing for a third as my grandmother was dying of cancer. I was broken, unhealthy, and looking for anyone but Jesus to take my heart and make it feel better. So I ended up finding a guy who, at the time, was as broken and unhealthy as I was and the result was one horribly psycho relationship.
Did anyone see the 20/20 interviews of Rihanna and Chris Brown a few months ago? As I sat there watching this couple that had "loved" each other so much, yet spiraled out of control into physical abuse, I couldn't help but think that, in hindsight, they probably have no idea who those two people in the hospital photos and mugshots were.
Sometimes the pairing up of two otherwise normal people with unhealthy hearts can just have toxic results.
If we've been there, we look back and have no idea why it was so easy to let go of our standards. We scratch our heads as to why we did not break up with someone who repeatedly raised his arm as if to hit us, or perhaps did hit more than threaten. We find it mind-boggling that we could not see the merit of saying goodbye to someone who brought out the worst in us.
But we know that if we had entrusted our hearts to Jesus - not just our faith, but our hearts - we never would have voluntarily imprisoned ourselves. Our dignity would have been secure in our Savior's hands.
So I pray for my daughter that her heart would be healthy, that she would entrust it to Jesus, and that her love and affections would always be sanctified. And I'm trying to make sure that my heart stays healthy and in the Lord's hands too.
*If you want to read more about having a healthy heart that is secure in the Lord, my mom actually has a new book out that addresses a lot of these issues. That's not why I wrote this post, but it does relate. The book is called So Long Insecurity.