Watching two girls grow up is a like receiving an unwanted invitation to look at oneself in the mirror. You know you are going to see things you have tried to ignore and deny, you cannot help but look with intense interest, and you are mesmerized by the experience. All the elements are there; unfettered joy in discovering that you have friends who like you just for who you are, shackle free steps into becoming your own person, nervousness at the possibility of failing, and intense relief when something actually works.
The picture is far more complex, for the girls and for me. They continue to explore and struggle to understand who and why they are who they are. The flood of new emotions and experiences takes them fresh mountaintops and valleys as they struggle to find their footing. The links between themselves and others is both good and bad. The journey is complex from one perspective but extremely simple from another viewpoint.
The girls are beginning to understand that they are members of several different families. They feel like they are uninvited observers but nothing could be more untrue! Their membership came automatically in some cases, easy in others, and stilled earned in a third group. The desire to be independent and solo is strong for each of us, “but as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we?” (Romans 12.4) So we struggle on to see where and how we fit in our life journeys.
I wish I could share a key fact with them, you, and on many days myself. Of all the people groups they belong to, of all the social clicks they identify themselves with, and of the close family groups, they are aware of, there is one that defines and shapes everything.
You, the girls, and I are sons and daughters of God. God is our father and our mother; a friend who gives us meaning, purpose, and value. God unconditionally loves us with an intensity that defies understanding. This is the discovery we seek.