Sunday, November 05, 2006
The Slumber Party Affair
It was going to be a big night on so many levels. It was my daughter's fifth birthday party, complete with six friends, a dozen or so relatives, a few zillion presents and a cake in the shape of a princess' castle. (That's the cake above.) And the girl was so excited, she was literally bouncing. Every two minutes she asked when the party was going to start. And every two minutes either Mama or Dad would grab a hold of her, stop her from bouncing, and tell her, "In a little while, dear."
But it wasn't simply the cake and the presents and the houseful of people that had my darling daughter doing her impression of an NBA basketball. It was the fact that her best friend, Katie, was going to sleep over after the party.
Up until now, my little girl has had "sleepovers" but only with older kids -- her brothers or family friends. This was going to be the real thing. A fellow five-year-old would sleep over. And the prospect of the whole affair kept my daughter in vertical motion all day long.
After all the friends and relatives had been herded back to their respective vehicles, my daughter and Katie settled into the evening routine. First there was playing to do, then a change in pajamas, then settling into sleeping bags to watch a movie.
But around the halfway mark of the movie, Katie started getting that teary look in her eyes. Of course she had never spent the night away from home before, and now it looked like she wasn't going to break her record. Soon we had to call Katie's mom to come pick her up.
My daughter was crushed. While Katie was sitting on the floor waiting for her ride, my little girl was clinging to my wife, tears rolling down her cheeks. When Katie's mom arrived, the tears were coming in loud sobs. She cried so hard that her nose started to bleed a little and her stomach was approaching full evacuation mode. It took another hour until she was calm enough to fall asleep.
We explained to our little girl that Katie wasn't going home to be mean, but because she was scared without her mommy around. But my daughter's feelings had been hurt. She was disappointed in her friend, and felt rejected. She woke up the next day feeling fine, but she still feels badly about the whole slumber party affair.
My girl is going to have to learn that people are going disappoint her. I know I've been let down by a whole host of folks. For that matter, I've been the one disappointing others on far too many occasions. We sinful people tend to let people down.
I remember the disappointment in the Christian community when Amy Grant divorced her husband to marry Vince Gill. I know all about similar disappointments in several others from Jim Bakker to Sandi Patty. And I hear that same feeling of being let down every time a pastor has to leave a church because he can't fulfill the whole monogamy thing.
I hate it when I let people down. Too often I don't follow through on my promises. I become a lousy witness because of my own thoughtlessness. And I don't even want to get into all the times I disappoint my wife or my kids.
I wonder what it was like for Simon Peter when he saw Jesus roasting a little fish on the shore. He jumped off the boat, he was so excited to see the risen Savior. But still there was that whole business of denial. He had let his Master down after he had sworn up and down that it would never happen.
How often I too let my Savior down. I wonder if the tears roll down his cheek after I rebel against Him and try to satisfy my own selfish desires. Well, maybe there are no tears, but I've let Him down anyway.
Thankfully, my Savior never lets me down. Even when He crosses me up and delivers something I don't expect, my disappointment is rooted in my own selfishness. I have no business being disappointed in Him, for He knows what He is doing. It's just that sometimes I don't. And I sit there, bawling my eyes out, thinking He has let me down, not realizing that my lack of faith has let Him down.
Oh, to be able to praise Him in times of despair and uncertainty, like Paul and Silas singing praise choruses in the Philippi Detention Center... to be able to work past my tears and appreciate all that I have been given.