As I concluded the prayer, I needed a synonym for "empower," a word that I loathe, and discovered "embolden," which reminded me of one of the best compliments of my life.
On the morning of September 7, 2016, I walked Beau's daughter to school. We had a brief exchange en français goodbye, during which I kissed her, told her I loved her, Daddy would pick her up from school, and we'd have dinner with my mom, who was visiting. A class mom grabbed me afterwards.
She said, "Y'all just have a different kind of love." I was completely taken aback, worried as always that I'm failing terribly at parenthood, and somehow differently from everyone else. I said, "Different... bad?!"
She replied, "Not at all. I'm just really glad she has you. The love she gets from y'all is really big. Y'all love out loud. It makes her bolder."
We do love out loud. We hug. We kiss. We hold hands. We tell each other that we love each other (in two languages!). We apologize. We practice empathy. And we love our neighbors.
Our "mundane" is big. We celebrate having dinner together, because that's something we don't get to do every day. When you only have a child present in your life half the time, you choose to love really big to make sure it lasts through the times when you're absent.
This summer, when Beau and I were trying to figure out how to entertain his daughter at church without Sunday School, I emailed the World in Prayer team and received this amazing and beautiful response from another member:
Even if you don't have [her] all the time, trust that what she is being exposed to with you and [Beau] will "stick", even when, in the future, there may seem evidence to the contrary. Most of all, your behavior- that of the two of you- will speak far louder than any words. Telling of a loving God needs to be demonstrated by being loving, and exposing her to a community where she is loved and accepted. I spent a lot of time "bored" in church as a young child and I ended up a pastor. She will still be absorbing the liturgy, the hymns, the prayers...I knew the entire Lutheran liturgy by the time I was four, plus words to lots of the hymns. Trust yourselves; trust the Living and Loving Spirit. And remember, [her] story/journey will be hers, not yours. And she will be writing it every day, which is as it should be.I hope she will live it out loud. I hope we have emboldened her. I hope that the love the three of us have for each other will resonate within her when she is feeling tired or weak or quieted or ignored. I hope that it reminds her that she is capable of anything and that we will love her no matter what.
It's an honor and a blessing to hug and kiss her, to walk her to school, to celebrate with her. I will be forever grateful for the moments we have, and I can't wait to see how she uses her big, bold heart to improve her world.