I was wearing layers upon layers of red chiffon and brand new black patent leather shoes. I was going to my eighth grade Christmas Dance. Never mind that nobody had asked me to go with him. Never mind that I had hardly even spoken to a boy much less been on a date with one. Never mind that I probably wouldn't get asked to actually dance-not once. I was going to the Christmas Dance and I felt like a princess.
My Daddy hated dances. He sincerely worried that the atmosphere and the music and the close contact with boys would lead us into sinful actions and relationships. But he agreed to drive me to the dance and to come back and pick me up. Daddy's do that kind of thing for their little girls, don't they, God? They sometimes do things because they know it will make their daughters happy.
I sat in the front seat of our Ford Fairmont with my miles of chiffon spread out across the seat like a red halo. Nervous, anxious, but excited to be going out in a brand new dress. Then Daddy did something that totally surprised me.
He stopped at Kresge's 5 & 10 Cent Store. "Wait here," he said gruffly. I sat their obediently. A few minutes later he came out of the store carrying a little clear plastic box. Inside was a white corsage. My first corsage.
"You'll have to pin it on yourself," he said. I fumbled around until I got it to stay heads-up on my chiffon dress. "Thank you, Daddy. It's the most beautiful flower in the world." I scooted over (which scrunched up all that chiffon) and kissed him on the cheek.
I know now how difficult that must have been for him. To let me go to a dance when he felt so strongly that it wasn't a good place for me to be. To help me celebrate that night because he could see how excited and happy I was about it. To make me feel special by adding that little touch of a grown-up corsage for his growing-up little girl.
Lord, my parents made a lot of mistakes in raising us kids; I know that. Just like I did as a parent. But they did some things very right. Like that night of the Christmas Dance. Thank you for both of my parents. They tried to raise us well. They tried to teach us the best way they knew how.
They made sure we had plenty to eat, and an attractive, safe place to live. They welcomed our friends into our home. They took us to church and taught us about You. They provided for our educations. They protected us and allowed us to have fun. They showed us what it means to help your neighbors and family. They did so many things right.
Help me (and all of us) to remember those things, Lord. Help me to forgive the things they did wrong and celebrate what they did right.
You're all so human, aren't you, Little One? So fragile. So easily wounded. So quickly led astray. So prone to mistakes. But so beautiful and precious to Me. So delicate and exquisite.
Yes, Little One. Embrace the good. Forgive the wrong. Celebrate your parents and be grateful for their effort to be the best parents they knew how to be.