“There she is!” Sharon’s squeal just marginally held the whisper range. Her fingers tightened around my arm as we proudly watched our 12-year old daughter stride nervously across the platform. To the people gathered at this Sunday morning service, she appeared poised and confident to sing the offertory special. My eyes however, were easily able to detect the slight flexing of her fingers against her side and the rigid movement of her steps.
When she stepped to the microphone and breathed in deeply, I realized I was holding my own breath. As she waited for the music to begin, I opened my heart to God in fervent prayer that she remember the words, forget the audience in front of her, and sing from her heart.
As she gave herself to the song, it was like I was watching her grow up right before my eyes. I could see the happy little girl that had once bounced on my knee and rode around the room on my back. I remembered the frightened little girl who was ready to go on her first sleepover, but yet wanting Mommy to go with her on this great new adventure. I could see the cranky seven year-old that had stayed up too late on a school night. And of course the darling little princess, all dressed up and blowing out the candles on her birthday cake.
My heart was near bursting with pride as she brought smiles, nods and a few tears to everyone there. Sharon buried her head in my shoulder and dabbed at her eyes when Jenny was done. My own eyes were glistening and I had to exert all of my willpower to hold it back. After all, I’m a man, we can’t… well, you know… we don’t…
I admit I had considerable difficulty listening to the sermon that day. I just wanted to run to Jenny and tell her how proud I was and how wonderful she did. Our preacher, on the other hand, had apparently come prepared to teach the entire New Testament. And surreptitiously checking my watch every 33 seconds wasn’t making him get through it any quicker. When he finally reached his “In Conclusion,” I sat up straight; it was the first thing he had said that had even vaguely caught my attention. When the final benediction was over, I looked to my left and saw that Sharon was already gone. How did she do that? I caught a glimpse of blond hair bouncing toward the side exit.
Now I was caught in the throng. Everyone wanted to tell me what a talented daughter I had. I graciously thanked each one as I tried to gently push through the mob. Where is Moses when you really need him?
Finally I pushed through the choir room door. Jenny and Sharon were excitedly talking and answering each other simultaneously – a genetic trait Sharon had passed on to Jennifer that I was never going to master.
In one fluid motion, Jen saw me, sprinted across the room and pounced like a leopard, pinning me back against the door. “Daddy, I did it!” I hugged her tight for a long, long moment, noticing now that she was nearly as tall as I was. When did that happen?
She pulled back to look me in the eyes, “Was it good?”
“Baby, you know you were good,” I answered in that way men often do when we can’t just flat out say what we think, “You don’t need me to tell you that.”
“Ohhhh”, she fretted, “I wanted so much for it to be really great!”
“It was wonderful, Jen! Four hundred people told me so.” She rolled her eyes at my wild exaggeration.
“Oh Daddy, there weren’t four hundred people here,” she countered, but I could tell she was pleased, none the less.
“But now let me ask you something.” Nodding her head earnestly she readily gave me her full attention. “Did you sing from your heart?”
“I did Daddy, I really did.”
“Then that’s all that matters. That’s all God wants--for us to do our best. He can always take whatever we offer and make it great. And in your case, He didn’t have to work that hard.”
She flung herself in my arms again. Sharon embraced us both. One eternal moment in time that we would always cherish forever.
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