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And Sometimes They Really Listen

The past few weeks I’ve been despairing of Maddie’s selfish attitude; she’s astonishingly mean to her sister, and when she’s given two pieces of candy, the first words out of her mouth are usually, “And I am NOT sharing this with Cora, so don’t ask!”

I pray nightly for her heart to be changed: that she will think first of others, then herself. I’m not trying to raise a martyr, just someone who looks to serve others – and finds that joy in serving. I don’t think Maddie’s particularly bad or horrible; I think this is a phase, and I’m trying hard not to correct the actions, but the heart behind it. Sometimes, though, it’s hard going, and I feel like I’m speaking to deaf ears.

But then sometimes, something happens to show me that my girl is listening.

A few days ago we were walking to school, chatting about the upcoming day, when Maddie brought up the subject of recess.

“I’m not sure what I’m going to play today at recess; today is a ‘free’ day for me and Elise.”

Curious, I asked, “Isn’t every recess free time? I didn’t think recess was programmed.”

“Well,” Maddie said, “Not every recess is free, since Anna is out of town.”


I asked Maddie to elaborate.

“See, Anna is out of town for three weeks visiting family, and Senti is Anna’s best friend. And Senti is really shy and she really misses Anna a lot. So while Anna is out of town, me and my friends make sure that Senti has someone to play with at recess. We divide it up amongst us, and yesterday was me and Elise’s turn to play with Senti, but today it’s someone else’s so today is a ‘free’ day.”

“Why doesn’t everyone just play together?” I asked, not quite sure I was understanding this correctly.

“Because Senti is really shy, like I said, so she’s only comfortable playing with a couple people at a time. This makes her happier.”

As Maddie stopped to pick up an earthworm, I looked at my beautiful girl, the breath knocked out of me at the sheer matter-of-factness with which she told this generous story.

And I grabbed her and hugged her tight.

This? Is what I pray for every night. For a daughter whose first thought is for others, not herself. For a child that sees another person floundering, and WANTS to step in and help. And then doesn’t need to brag about it. I’ve been praying for a girl whose first thought would be for someone else, who would find joy in serving that someone, who would think that this act of service was just a normal part of the day.

And God parted the curtains that usually veil Maddie’s school day from me, and gave me a glimpse of a girls who listens, and hears, and acts. Not always, but sometimes, which is all I can hope for.
And I am grateful.


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