Well I've had this blog post written for over two weeks but keep delaying posting it b/c I am waiting on pics of Harper from my friend Sharon over at smittenphotography. But I figured I better keep the blog momentum going and post without a pic and will be sure to upload every scrumptious image once they arrive. So if you can bear through a picture-less post (i know, who likes those?), then read on!
Our dear friends Nancy and Jonathan got married at the end of May and everything surrounding that wedding was so special for Eric and I. From walking though premarital counseling with them, to Eric performing the wedding, to the amazing stay at the AMAZING Primalnd, it was full of so much of what we love - the privilege of walking through life with dear friends in hopes of knowing Jesus more because of it, and the inevitably sweet memories that accompany this kind of journey. And speaking of walking, it’s a good thing Harper started to just a couple months before their big day because she had her first go at being at flower girl in their wedding. Nancy has fabulous taste so together we landed on a style of dress we found online at J.Crew (which, btw I just learned there’s such thing called J-Boat, so the crew of a J-boat would be called the J.Crew. Oh wait, everyone knew that but me? Typical.). Anyways, Nancy’s tailor-friend was able to whip together an exact replica of the dress for UNBELIEVABLY cheap and we ended up with the most delicate, ivory, satin, shift dress, with subtle pleats and a navy ribbon around the waist. The first time she put it on I lost my breath. It was as if the dress enhanced her innocence.
We didn’t stress too much about practicing for her trek down the aisle (which was a long one at First Baptist Church). Eric taught her her to walk while saying “hi” to friends, holding her basket, and to high-five her daddy at the end of the aisle (since he would be standing there with the groom already). We arrived to the church in time to take pictures beforehand and when I took Harper back to the room where the bridesmaids were getting ready, she took one look at the room full of people and lost it. I mean melted down, crying “no dress, no, no, no.” As much as I knew I needed to get her in her dress and ready to go, my heart hurt for her. She was overwhelmed, overstimulated, and I couldn’t help but think she felt pressure. I was compelled to do whatever I could do to convince her that she did not need to perform. With the help of my wonderful mother we managed to get her dressed and then it was my job to pull her away to a safe place, a place where she knew she could just be a little girl and play. We spent nearly two hours before the ceremony wandering around the church, smelling flowers, throwing rocks, playing with water fountains, blowing candles, just she and I. And I realized in that time that part of my job as her mother is to create safe spaces for her. To recognize when she is collapsing into her surroundings and to carve out space for her to feel safe and to feel joy.
I remember when we were going through the security check at the San Antonio airport a few months and it was absolute chaos. I mean like herding cattle chaos. I could see my little girl on the brink of a breakdown. So she and I spent the next 30 minutes (the time it took to make it through the line) talking softly to each other as I made a game out of picking out all the employees in blue shirts, or finding all the backpacks, etc. It was our own little world. She needed a space within a space. A concentric circle of peace within a bigger circle of chaos.
Now don’t get me wrong. This is not the same as sheltering. I do not feel compelled to protect her from the reality of a tough, noisy, and often overwhelming world. I just want her to know she does not have to fall prey to it and be a product of it. The cross of Jesus has afforded all things good, namely abundant life lived forever with Him, and a thousand blessings in the meantime. One of those blessings is the opportunity to find quiet places, if not in our surroudnings, in ourselves, where we stay grounded and unburdened. Carving out these kind of spaces is what I can do for her until she can do that for herself.
The moment arrived when all the birdesmaids and the lovely bride herself were ready to walk down the aisle. I casually walked Harper into the church and showed her how all the other girls were walking towards her daddy. She smiled (her coy smile which is my favorite of all). I asked her if she might want to walk down to daddy too. She said “sure.” Do you want to carry your basket sweet girl? “Sure,” she said, confidently. And she did. She launched down the aisle with joy and light, stopping to say hi to our friend, saying “cheese” to the photographer and doing a little dance once she got down to where Eric was. I wept. Despite myself, I wept. Not because she was the cutest flower girl that has ever strolled an aisle (which she was). It was so much more than that. She was free. Free from the pressure to perform. Free from the confines of expectations. Free to walk to her daddy, just as she is, not as she should be.
Abba, Daddy, will you carve out quiet spaces for me in the midst of a very noisy world, so that I too can be free. Free to come to you just as I am, not as I should be. And in that freedom, make me as I should be. Make me more like Jesus. Amen.