I couldn’t believe it. I was being asked to speak to and work with other Children’s Pastors at a conference in Disney World. For someone like me, this felt like the epitome of a “perk” at work.
As a child, I had wanted to go my entire life. I remember watching the TV commercials, longing to watch the fireworks in front of the castle. My parents could and would never be able to take me. Between finances, priorities, and mental illness, there would never be a time that there would even be an option in our family.
When I was a teenager, I started working at a Christian bookstore. I loved working there because I got to speak and minister to people, as well as feed my love for a good read. Imagine my disappointment when my parents announced that they were taking my younger brother to Disney. Seriously? Not even an option for me to go with?
No. I had a job. And responsibilities. And besides, he had always wanted to go. My heart sinking, I thought about all the times I had come in early for my curfew, only to be scolded for “pushing it” too close to the time I was supposed to be home. My brother, on the other hand, came in all hours of the night, often breaking a window to get into the house because he didn’t have a key or was too drunk to figure out how to use the doorknob. I thought about how hard I worked to maintain above a 4.0 in my AP classes, my role in the National Honor Society, and all the extracurriculars I was involved in. Those things were never celebrated or even mentioned. Meanwhile, my brother, who was and is very intelligent, barely squeaked by with D’s. I thought about how he stayed home, watching TV and playing video games, while I served in the community. To my young mind, this decision, to take him to Disney without me, was the proof of what I always felt… they loved him more than me.
It wasn’t just my brother, it was my parents. They were not in attendance at even one concert, play, or performance (and there were many…..). They did not take me shopping for a prom gown or new school clothes. Let’s not even get into the fact that I worked three jobs just to pay for those things. There was always a sense that I was on my own, often being parented by my grandparents. At a certain point, my parents just stopped, well, being my parents. I may have been with them physically, but emotionally, they decided for me that I didn’t need them.
Oh, but I did.
Sighing, I was shaken back to the reality of the email in front of me. Disney World. An opportunity to speak and teach people I love in a place that I love. Of course, I would do it. Of course, I would invest in the people who were investing in the next generation. Of course, I would have some “after parties” with them, watching fireworks at the castle. (Eek!). Of course, I would. As I giggled to my self, I sensed not only that my heavenly Father was proud of me, but that He had his hand in some healing for my heart with this event.
“I redeem ALL things. ALL things, daughter.”
Immediately the tears sprung to my eyes. My Abba was taking me to Disney World. My Abba was acknowledging how hard I had worked. And my Abba was celebrating with me.
“Thank you, Father. I love you.”
It’s the only thing I could think about all day. All month. All year.
We have a good, good, father. One who sees us, who hears us, and longs to mend those broken spaces.
I don’t know what your “Disney World” sized hurt is today. But I do know the one that can heal it. I had long ago surrendered that hurt to Him, never expecting Him to take care of it in such a powerful way. But what I know is true for me is also true for you.
He’s a good, good, Father.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called
children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1a NIV
As we enter into a season of celebrating love, let’s not forget the only love that can satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts, even the ones we have already surrendered.