8/10/05

Papa, do you love me?

A very young grandfather was interrupted in his thoughts and his walk by his seven year old granddaughter's question.


"Papa, do you love me?"
"Of course. Why do you ask?"


She tugged at his finger. When they walked she held on to one of his fingers , wrapping her little hand tightly. Their walk stopped.


"Papa, do you love me?" This time much more emphatic and impatient. He knelt down to look at her, their eyes meeting. She never looked away. Eye on eye. She could see into his soul. Seemed like that since the delivery room. What a day that was! She repeated, "Do you love me?"


"Listen to Papa. I do love you. With all my heart. Where is this coming from?"


"Becky says I'm gitimate, and I don't have a daddy, and momma got in trouble, and gitimate kids don't get loved."


Papa was stunned. "and who is Becky?"
"You know, Becky at church." For a moment, Papa thought he might need to pay a visit to Becky at church and Becky's mom, who was known to be quite a talker.


As Papa tried to put into words what he felt, he looked into the eyes of this little seven year old girl who was much too soon, having to hear this stuff. Who talked like this about children? Suddenly, an emotional tidal wave swept over him.


In an instant he was re-living every emotion, back in the rocking chair, in his living room, exactly where he was sitting when he heard the news of his daughter's pregnancy. It was perhaps the most devastating news, the most painful experience of his entire life. He had wept uncontrollably. His dreams, her dreams, dashed. He remembered the bile rising. The spasms. The pain in his chest. A piano could not have weighed more if placed firmly on his solar plexus. He couldn't speak. He could barely breathe. He found it hard to focus, his vision, or his hearing.


And the emotions: Despair. Rage. Anger. Disappointment. Self doubt. Recriminations for not being a better father. More rage, this time directed at the boy. Oh yeah, "They were in love. He was going to do the right thing." Great plan. He could have literally taken the life of that boy, and felt no regret. A few years in prison would be a fair exchange. What to do. More weeping. Than just more pain. It seemed unbearable. It took a couple of days to even breathe properly.


Now as he looked into the eyes of this little girl, he remembered another thought. A filthy, vile, disgusting, embarrassing thought. For a few moments, off and on, over a few days, after he had first received this very unwelcome news, he had entertained the consideration of suggesting an abortion. He was a Christian, grounded in the faith from a tender age, and yet when faced with every implication of his daughter being an un-wed expectant teen age mother, he had temporarily wavered.


He was looking into the eyes of a child, that in a weak moment, a moment of absolute despair, he had thought of aborting. My God! My God! My God! Forgive me.


He reached fully around his granddaughter and hugged her so hard she squirmed. Tears rolled down his cheeks. She pulled back and looked at him completely puzzled.


"What's the matter Papa. Why did you get sad?"


"Papa's not sad honey. Papa's happy. Sometimes I get so happy, my eyes make lots of tears. Listen, let's talk about Becky, ok?" She nodded.


"Becky doesn't have it quite right. Are you listening to Papa?"


"Yeah. I'm listening."


"First of all, Papa is a pretty smart expert on one thing, and that is, there are no gitimate children. Second of all, you have two daddies. Becky just doesn't know it. You have a spiritual daddy. God is your spiritual daddy. You can't see Him but He can see you and He watches you all day and all night. He can't wait for you to get up in the morning. He thinks you are very special. And you have Papa. I'm not your daddy, but I'm your Papa, and I do love you, and I think about you all day, and I can't wait to see you and talk to you.


And one more thing. Your momma is terrific. She was very young when you were born. But you know what. She thought you being born was the most important thing in the world. It was no trouble. Ok? Do you understand Papa?"


She was a-ok. They continued their walk briefly before she asked, "Papa?"


"Yes"


"I'm tired of walking. Think we should get some ice cream?"


Papa thought that buying this ice cream might just be the most important appointment he could have in the entire world. How thankful the rocking chair experience, and all the thoughts he entertained in that chair were firmly and finally in the past. He thought he might just make a point of rocking this little girl in that chair today. Create a little different memory. Yes indeed. Today would be a good day for a rocking.


In a time, when confusing messages come from all quarters, and admittedly, sometimes even from those raised in the faith, it seems to us there are at least three important messages that need to be heard:



No matter how a baby started, that baby can be and should be loved.

No matter how desperate the circumstances look to those closest to the expectant mom, someone should say, "We can do this, as a family, and make it work. We can do this."


And, to lonely scared Moms, "You are not, and you will not be alone."


Create options for walks by the ponds and shared ice cream, and rocks in the rocking chairs. Turn "someone in trouble" to "No Trouble."


Take a stand. Activate your faith.



[Received from the Oremus Prayer Network]