A Little Girl, Hiding

NLFCOUPLES

“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.” 1 Peter 2:9

I see a little girl skipping home from school in the late afternoon sun. Her dress is a hand‐me‐down intended for someone two sizes larger. Her shoes are unpolished, and her socks no longer have elastic around the top. She crosses a barren yard to reach her destination—a small house badly in need of paint and repair.

The walls inside the home are patched with brown butcher paper and paint to conceal where the little girl’s father punched holes with his fist. The father frequently stumbles home in the middle of the night, smelling of alcohol, then wakes the little girl with shouts and threats against her mother. Sometimes the little girl hides from her father.

One day the little girl is driven home from a friend’s birthday party. She asks to be let out in front of a clean house with a well‐manicured lawn. She marches up the driveway and waves good‐bye to her friends— but as soon as the car rounds the corner, she turns and walks several blocks to her real home. She’s learned to hide her disgrace from others; on the inside, however, she feels ashamed, depressed, and worthless.

God, however, blesses the little girl. Her mother’s wisdom and love sustain her. The mother insists that she attend church, where the little girl learns about Jesus and invites Him into her heart and life. When the little girl grows up and goes to college, she falls in love with a man who promises to do his best to make her happy and build her up under God’s direction. And he does.

This story is deeply familiar to me because I was that little girl. Children who grow up in homes where they are loved and appreciated, where discipline and accountability are properly balanced with democracy and openness, develop a healthy sense of self‐worth that usually carries into adulthood. But those of us who didn’t experience this kind of childhood may need an extra dose of understanding from our marital partner. No matter what your spouse’s background is, I pray you’ll provide that support for the little boy or girl you’re married to.

– Shirley M Dobson

  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Still Learning

NIGHT LIKE FOR PARENTS

[The righteous] are always generous and lend freely. Psalm 37:26

We do want to be effective parents. There is so much to teach our kids, and so little time. But as we struggle and strain to bestow wisdom on the next generation, we might also pause to consider how much our children can teach us.

I recall a story by a woman named Elizabeth Cobb about a mother who wanted to show her children how to be more generous. After a tornado had touched down nearby, the mother taped a newspaper picture of a now-homeless family on their refrigerator. The photo included the image of a tiny girl, her eyes wide with confusion and fear. The mother explained this family’s plight to her seven-year-old twin boys and three-year-old daughter, Meghan. Then, as the mother sorted out old clothes, she encouraged her boys to select a few of their least-favorite toys to donate.

While the boys brought out unwanted playthings from their rooms, Meghan slipped quietly into her own room and returned hugging something tightly to her chest. It was Lucy, her faded, frazzled, and much-loved rag doll. Meghan paused in front of a pile of discarded toys, pressed her round little face against Lucy’s for a final kiss, then laid the doll gently on top.

“Oh, honey,” the mother said. “You don’t have to give away Lucy. You love her so much.” Meghan nodded solemnly, eyes glistening with held-back tears. “Lucy makes me happy, Mommy,” she said. “Maybe she’ll make that other little girl happy, too.”

The twins stared openmouthed at their baby sister. Then, as if on cue, they wordlessly walked to their rooms and returned not with castoffs, but with some of their prized toy cars and action figures. The mother, now almost in tears herself, removed a frayed coat from the pile of clothes and replaced it with a just-purchased hunter green jacket. The parent who had wanted to teach her kids about generosity had instead been taught.

Meghan intuitively knew that her beloved rag doll was not hers to keep forever. Though she could not have explained it, she understood the meaning of the Scripture that says, “Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand” (Ecclesiastes 5:15). When Meghan realized that another little girl needed Lucy more than she did, she willingly gave up her cherished toy.

God wants us to use our possessions, our wealth, our talents, and our very lives to bring glory to Him. As the apostle Paul says, “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion” (2 Corinthians 9:11). As you strive to incorporate that lesson into your family, you might start with the example of your own children.

-Shirley M Dobson

  • From Night Light For Parents, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Illustration adapted from “True Generosity” by Elizabeth Cobb. © 1999.