About three months ago, my daughter Sydney got her drivers license. As I pulled in from work that afternoon, my wife came out to see me with a funny look on her face. One of those looks that says, “I hope you are prepared for what you are about to see!”. Without a word she reached up and kissed me as I heard my daughter start her car for the first time. A moment later, Sydney drove slowly around the driveway from the back of the house (with her sister next to her), rolled her window down and said simply “BYE DAD!”….and off she went. I could not even speak. “Yesterday” she was proud of herself for wearing “big girl pants” and now she is driving?!? Are you kidding me!
In the few weeks since that haunting afternoon, I have often looked back on those 16 years of life and have come to the conclusion that she is “growing up good”! Yea, I know, we all have kids and they are the smartest, prettiest, and most talented teenagers on the planet…I get it. None of that is true with Sydney. Sure she is smart, pretty and talented but she is a normal 16 year old girl with a pretty ordinary life. Public schooled, likes boys, loves movies and romance, she laughs a lot and cries when she needs to. “Bad hair days” can “rock her world”, friendships can be both painful and terrific (all at the same time) and school is well, school. To sum it up….. “it ain’t easy being a 16 year old girl!”…. but Sydney has some pretty extraordinary qualities that get her through all of that junk:
1. She Loves Jesus. Not in the “my dad is on staff and people are watching me” kind of way but in the “I want to walk with Him when no one is looking too” kind of way. I mean, she has wrestle with God through heartbreak, challenges, loss and blessings and still clings to him. If it is true that most adults still “are who we are” in High School, then Sydney is gonna make a great adult.
2. She Will Be Your Friend, Even If You are Popular! When Sydney turned 16 we thought it would be a good idea to have a “few” of her friends over for a party to celebrate. Well, a “few” turned into 72! The number of friends is not the cool part…it was the variety. Athletes, band members, home-schoolers, drama clubbers, cheerleaders, church kids, un-churched kids, “rival” High School kids, cowboys, druggies…er…kids who are struggling with substance abuse, etc… all came to the party, got along and “played by her rules”. In fact, we had one of the interns bring a sound system and play music. The whole place was dancing to Toby Mac, LeCrae and even “Uncle Charlie” songs… you won’t see that on MTV! For some of these kids it was the first time at a party like this. The home-schoolers had not been around “substance abusers” who had not been around jocks, who don’t hang with the drama folks etc… but they did at her party. Ya see….She will not hold it against you if you are popular, can throw a ball, blow a horn, like to act, don’t go to her school, have money, tons of acne, sport a tat, wear button downs or a drive a “beamer”! She does not care…and a lot of people love her for it.
3. She Can Sing! Really…I’m talking freakish talent. I mean the “get this kid a Scholarship (I hope) and a contract” kind of singing. Watching her lead worship and/or sing a solo is breathtaking. So good so young. No dreams of being the next “big thing” just being herself. She sings Sinatra, Swift, Buble’, Nicole, Jobe, Nordaman and even some Crowder, all with equal ease. If you have ever watched your child do something that honors the Lord and smiles while they are doing it…. well, lets just say it is pretty cool.
4. She Makes Good Decisions. Sydney, while far from being perfect, really makes good decisions. From what friends to “bring close” to “how to get herself out of tempting situations”, Sydney usually “nails it”.
5. She Still Hugs Me and My Wife! In front of “God and everyone” she still comes up and gives the best hugs ever! The kind of hug that lasts for about 10 seconds. The kind of hug that ends in a crescendo of “mm-mmmm!” She hugs me in front of potential boyfriends, her friends from school, other adults…and when no one else is looking. It is a reflection of her heart.
It makes me smile!