Sunday morning amidst our pre-church grabbing for breakfast, combing hair, clearing the table, and searching for lost shoes, a girl walked down the stairs and into our dining room.
It wasn’t that she called attention to herself. She didn’t. She didn’t even say anything. She just walked unassumingly into the room, stood tall and slender, wearing a simple dress, arms falling gently at her sides, long brown hair falling just as gently over her shoulders.
And for a moment, just a moment, I swear I lost my breath.
How does a dad slow the world down so he can take in that his little girl is becoming a young woman? How does he fathom the wonder she is?
All I could do was stop and look and utter, “You. Look. Beautiful.”
I couldn’t find anything else to say. I wanted to. Man, I wanted something more to say. How can a father fill his words with more than just sound, so they’ll not just reach her ears but nourish her heart, too?
It’s moments like these I’m keenly aware of two things: First, time escapes us, like air from a balloon. You wake up one morning and realize something’s gone and won’t ever come back. For all that’s welcome and wonderful about today, time gone by isn’t ours to retrieve. The train only goes forward.
Second, I know so little about real living. And real loving. I can talk a good game, but my love falls so short.
What’s a man to do when his heart isn’t big enough to offer his little-girl-now-growing-into-a-young-woman all he wishes for her? All he believes she needs?
No matter what I try, a gap remains between what I want for her and what I can give her. This isn’t a cop out. I’m not talking about checking out or making excuses for not giving this girl all I’ve got. I’m talking about the gap between the time I want with her and the time I have that’s so quickly passing, the gap between the love I want for her and the faltering love I find I have to give to her.
The gap is painful.
Even when I do my best, re-up my commitment to not missing a moment (just like so many voices urged me when she was a baby in my arms at the grocery store).
But in moments like these, I can’t ignore, can’t numb the reality the gap is still here. And it hurts.
But here’s the thing: I’m not sure I want the gap to go away. I think maybe it’s supposed to be there. And I’m supposed to feel it.
I think it’s supposed to point me beyond myself to search afresh for One who has all of time, One who gives all His love for her.
I want to turn my pain into prayer. Less striving for perfect me and more trusting in perfect Him.
I think I’m supposed to feel the pain of the gap. And I think she is, too.
Because here’s the other thing: I don’t want her satisfied with what I’ve got. Or anyone else for that matter. I want her to walk right up to the gap, face it square, stand tall and look searchingly through it for a Love that’s bigger than the world has to offer.
Oh, I love my girl. But my love is just a glimmering reflection on a puddle. I want her to ache for a vast ocean and an endless sun.
Minding the gap,