I heard the sound before I saw where it was coming from.
Above the laughter of delight, friends conversing, children asking their parents for cotton candy, and the hum of the fair rides, I heard a sound that took me by surprise.
I quickly turned from watching Caroline swirl around and around on a ride to see a dad yelling at his 14ish year old daughter.
She had been walking ahead of him, holding her younger sister’s hand. And now she was at the mercy of his anger. Quickly his voice lowered and I couldn’t hear what he was saying but from his mannerisms, he spoke harshly to her for less than 30 seconds, but I could see in her eyes
the damage had been done.
I was torn between watching her and watching my own children playing in front of me. The energy he put into yelling at her was now put into talking to someone on the phone and she and her little sister just stood there. What I saw in her eyes was tragic.
Desire to escape.
And her shoulders hung heavy in what looked to me like defeat. They looked like the hung shoulders of hearing (potentially) and believing (potentially) that she was not worth anything. That she wasn’t good enough. That she would never measure up. It appeared that what started as a fun night at the fair, turned into yet another place that she heard the voice of her dad saying that she had no value.
Shame over who she was.
Friends, I don’t know her story and I most likely don’t know yours, but here is what I do know – God has never for a second wanted you to hang your shoulders in shame over who you are or what you’ve done.
God sees and knows every single part of you and unlike that father, when God looks at you, he doesn’t get angry, he doesn’t mumble words of unworthiness, he doesn’t cause you to be filled with emptiness and shame.
Instead, when God looks at you He is full of love and delight.
In fact, His love for you is something our finite minds cannot comprehend. In our broken humanness, love is always attached to something – how good of a job we do, how faithful we are, how we measure up to others. But there’s no hook with God’s love.
Not even for a moment does His love for you waver.
I can’t get my mind off of this girl. Our paths crossed for only a brief moment in time, but now, her face will forever be etched in my mind. Maybe I was there to witness the encounter so that I would pray for her. I certainly am praying for her. But maybe I was there to not only pray for her, but to also write about it so that you would hear the truth –
God loves you.
God delights in you.
God rejoices over you with singing.
And I’m praying that she would hear and believe that truth one day too.
The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
God, may she know and may we know that you love us more than we can comprehend and may that be what we rest in.