You may have noticed during the yogurt round of your breakfast today that a few tears were flowing down my cheeks. As you’ve never seen your daddy cry before, I wanted to tell you what happened in my mind while we listened to our morning playlist.
Not all tears in this world are bad, Little One. Some of the best moments in your life will move you with profound emotion. The best tears are the ones that catch you off guard, when the smile of a friend or a line in a book is so beautiful that it rings a little bell hidden deep inside your heart. This kind of beauty fills you so full that you overflow in laughter or, sometimes, tears.
You probably don’t remember the particular song that was playing at the time. You are not yet to the age when I will consider it part of my fatherly duty to introduce you to bands like U2 as part of your growth into a responsible global citizen. The song was called “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” and comes from The Joshua Tree, an album that came out three weeks after your daddy was born over thirty years ago.
I discovered U2 in high school, when I heard one of my favorite bands, Caedmon’s Call, cover one of their songs. I immediately went looking for the original and bought a copy of The Joshua Tree, which survived many rotations during my angsty, Christ-haunted teen years. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” was and is, for me, an anthem of the restlessness I feel as someone trying to follow Jesus in a broken world.
Disappointment and frustration seem to be around every corner. Friends let you down. People get sick and pass away. The Church can be beautiful but is often as selfish as the world around us. The song communicates a deep longing for Home, a place none of us have ever visited but about which we all dream. Will we ever find what we’re looking for?
This morning, however, something new rang true to me as we listened to it together. I thought about the world beyond our sunny kitchen, the world you are inheriting from us. Sweet Girl, this is a world full of so many beautiful things, like the snow-capped mountains where we went hiking this fall or the shore of Lake Michigan where you dipped your feet on your momma’s birthday.
But it is also full of dreadful things beyond what you may ever understand.
It’s a world where children with hands not much bigger than yours spend their many waking hours making clothing. This clothing is sold for lots of money to wealthy people like us while they struggle to fill their tummies with enough food to survive.
It’s a world where other little girls are taken from their families and sold for unspeakable reasons to men who do not love them. These little girls don’t get to go to the park or play with their puppies on the living room floor like you do. Their parents aren’t even allowed to see them.
It’s also a world where women like your momma are regularly seen as less special than men like Daddy. They often make less money for doing the same work. Men like Daddy interrupt them when they talk, take credit for their ideas, and say rude things to them when no one else is listening, and sometimes even when someone is.
Sometimes these women are mistreated horribly and, even if they tell someone about it, no one will believe them. Or worse, the people in charge (usually men) will blame these women for causing the trouble in the first place.
Sometimes, even the men who say they follow Jesus, like your daddy, are guilty of hurting these women and making them feel alone when they hurt. Sometimes these men stand up in front of large crowds of people and say nice things about the men who hurt women like your momma.
Little One, I am so sorry. I wish I could tell you these terrible things will never happen to you. I wish I could protect you from men like me and the terrible system we built. We still haven’t found what we’re looking for.
But, maybe you and your friends will.
The truth is that this world is also full of women and men who kick down the doors where those little girls are held against their will.
Sometimes brave women get up in front of people and share the stories of when they were hurt. When these brave ones tell their stories, it makes other people feel brave too and more stories are told.
Sometimes we even see justice here in this broken place.
Let me end with the best news. There was a good man once – a really good man – who told us that all of the sad things would, one day, become untrue. He told us that there was a house somewhere with no locked doors and no walls to keep people out just because they look different than us. He said it would be a place with no more tears and no more death. It’s a home where every little girl is safe and loved.
Men like your daddy didn’t like hearing that they would not always be in charge so they killed him. But, this man, Jesus, was stronger than death so he came back to life a couple days later. He told us before he left that he would come back one day to bring us home with him.
When you feel scared and helpless – and it breaks my heart to admit that you will – remember that this Stronger Man sees you and he hears you and he loves you, even more than Daddy. And that is quite a lot.