Sixteen years ago the world changed. The world had taken a turn for the better several years before when, over the course of time, Karen and I got married followed a few years later with the birth of our first born. We enjoyed that time of our lives and had absolutely no clue that in a few short years we would experience another amazing gift. This time the gift came in a beautiful, small package wrapped in smiles and the faintest hint of auburn hair. Her name is Caroline.
We put a lot of thought into her name. We wanted it to be as special as we knew she would be. Some of her friends (and I use that term loosely) have shortened her name to Carol. Their doing so makes me sad because is shows that they really don't know her like I do. Names are not meant to be shortened or tossed around. Names matter, and when someone carelessly uses another person's name they are typically someone who will casually use the person, as well. At any rate, Caroline says it doesn't really bother her that much, so I suppose it's just a Daddy thing.
Speaking of Daddy things, maybe being a Daddy makes me more protective than I should be. I remember holding our precious treasure and knowing that at that time in our lives she was one of the few things that was going right. Looking into her eyes made the struggles with work and questions about finances fade away. I didn't have to decide that I was going to be her protector. I didn't have to make a declaration or think about the ramifications of the choice. I can't even say it was a choice. It just happened as the fire deep inside ignited to solidify that from that day forward she was my little girl.
I wish I could say as her protector that she has never been hurt. At times, the hurt has even come from me. I have said things in ways I wish I could I could take back but no matter how hard I try I can't seem to turn back time. I have learned, though, some key words that express my heart when I mess up. Here they are: I was wrong. I am sorry. Please forgive me.
People have been said that I have a blind spot when it comes to Caroline. I don't really believe that is true, but I will concede one point. In my eyes she is perfect - not in her actions, but in her being. Being perfect in who she is means that nothing she could ever do would change my love for her. Nothing could make me doubt her ability to excel and her heart for others. I suppose that seeing Caroline through that lens does create a sort of cognitive dissonance within me when she behaves in a way that is contrary to what I know to be true about her. In those moments I have to deal with the reality and help her navigate through whatever relationship may be harmed by her inconsistent behaviors. Eventually, though, I know that when she gets back to who she really is all will be well again.
Caroline loves people, and she loves life. Others comment to us from time to time on something she has said or done that has been especially meaningful to them or to someone close to them. Caroline laughs hard and hurts deep. She is more reserved than our other two children until you get to know her, and then the excitement shines through. She might be more trusting than I am, but she also has a discernment about people that will help her on the journey through life.
The part of Caroline that really makes me smile is that Caroline loves Jesus. I pray that she will know Him more and recognize just how much He loves her. Caroline doesn't get trapped by the mechanism of the church institution. Church neither slows her down nor revs her up. She loves Jesus and being with His people. The rest is just part of the play. Caroline forgives quickly - she is teaching me more about doing so. Caroline gives freely to others. She uses her gifts for God's glory, and she is a light in a dark world.
Sixteen years ago the world changed, and the world as we knew it then will never be the same. Sixteen years ago, God blessed us all with a special gift. Her name is Caroline.