So! I enjoyed reading the road trip book, Tender Graces, by Jackina Stark.
Mostly. Though relieved to watch Audrey grow closer to God, I felt sorry it hadn't happened before her husband's death (no spoiler there, he dies in the first sentence. Alas.). She'd been one of those Christians who knew about Jesus, but hadn't formed a friendship with Him, so her husband's death knocked her flat for 15 months. Then she takes the road trip and snaps out of her paralyzing gloom, beginning a real walk with Jesus.
Anyway. Audrey says something in this book which majorly bugged me. She visits an old classmate from high school and this happens:
"While we exchanged biographical information accumulated since high school, he kept staring at me. Finally he put his hands on my shoulders and looked into my face.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"I'm looking for the girl," he said.
Taken off guard by such a statement, I laughed. Then I mumbled something about needing to get home.
He meant no harm, but I really have no desire to be around people looking for "the girl." It devalues the woman."
My, my... Sounds like Audrey had a sticker in her pantyhose. Or her insecurity, not knowing who she was in Christ, was showing.
Me? I love to find the child in peoples' faces. Do it all the time, in fact, like when I see grown-up child stars on tv and especially when, at Facebook, old school friends share recent photos of themselves all these 40 years after I last saw them.
Always I search for the girl!
Why? Partly because, hey, it's fun. It's like a hunt to see again the childhood face you remember when you and your friend played hopscotch or jacks and sat next to each other in math class. And it becomes an aha moment when you find her still there behind the lines and scars and grey hair, especially if she has a healthy child inside, a child-like side that can still laugh, find the humor in situations and play. Oh, how we still need to play!
But also? Years ago I'd walk down to the convenience store and God would often nudge me to find the little boys' face in the faces of the long-haired, rough-looking men buying boxes of beer and cigarettes at the check-out counter. And I could! I could look past the roughness and see the vulnerability as the men (especially men, but sometimes women) would reach into their pockets and count out their money, a vulnerability around their mouths and their stance, much as a child's, and I'd feel a sadness that --for all their work--their money would go up in smoke and down in liquor.
But viewing that long-ago child clearer than the hard, after-life-spits-you-out side, caused me to more easily, readily, pray for these people who too often feel invisible. Forgotten. To me, it felt like praying for the children Jesus spoke of loving so much in the Bible, for that's what I mostly saw--the child inside who so needs to know love, the real kind, especially the forgiving love of the Best Father, ever.
So I will continue to search for the girl, the boy, in peoples' faces and no one will be devalued, but rather, smiled at and prayed for, in hope that someday these children all-grown-up will receive the love Jesus died long ago to give them.