Everything Is Exactly As It Should Be

I could tell something was off the moment I saw her.

Photo credit: catcherintheryephotography.com
She walked towards the car alone; her narrow shoulders slumped as if the weight of her fifth-grade-world sat upon them. Her head hung low and her hair shadowed her delicate face. She let her overstuffed backpack drop from her shoulder  as she opened the passenger side door. She sat down wordlessly, turned her face to the window, and sighed.

 “You okay, Lil?,” I asked.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” she replied, as a puddle-like tear slid down her cheek.

We spent the short ride home in silence. She cried; my mama-heart worried.

Once we were safely nestled inside the cavern of our garage, I turned the car off, unbuckled my belt, turned to her and said, “You ready to spill it now?”

She proceeded to tell me—between sobs and sniffles—that her crush, Ryan (name changed to protect the idiot), did not like her. Lilly’s nervy friend had asked Ryan  (completely against Lilly’s protestations) at lunch recess whether he liked Lilly or not. He had said no before running off to join his friends playing football. Sadly, Lilly had been certain he reciprocated her crush. Even more sadly, she had been wrong.

“Do you want me to punch him in the throat?,” I asked, sternly.

“Noooooooooo!!!!,” Lilly hiccuped and wailed.

I sat and collected my thoughts for a minute while she cried. On one hand, I could not believe I was having a conversation like this with my eleven-year-old! Thoughts of "she’s way too young” and “she shouldn’t be in such a hurry to grow up” and “oh no, this is only the beginning of ‘boy drama’”zipped and zoomed through my mind. On the other hand, I wanted to impart some wisdom (don’t laugh!), and to comfort her and help her through this newfound heartbreak. And quite honestly, I wanted to kill that boy!

“Lilly,” I said, taking a deep breath, “for years and years I was head-over-heels, crazy-in-love with a boy. I met him right before my senior year of high school. He was dreamy and gorgeous and he quickly became one of my best friends. Though I dated other boys, I always held a torch for him. And I thought that maybe, maybe he liked me too.

Years went by and he went on to serve a mission for the church. We wrote letters while he was away, and when he finally got home he said he wanted to try dating. I was over the moon! Everything I had dreamed of was coming true. I couldn’t believe it!

We lived in different cities and after only a couple of weeks of “dating” he called me late one night while I was at my mom and dad’s house. He told me that he “just wasn’t feeling it” and that it wasn’t going to work out. WHAT?! I was crushed.

I told him everything. That I loved him and that I had always been in love with him. And that he had just shattered my heart.”

At this point in the conversation, Lilly interrupted me: “Geez, Mom. Is this supposed to make me feel better? Because it’s not working.”

I laughed and said, “Let me finish! My point is this... I liked a boy, but he didn’t like me back. And yes, it hurt, and yes, I cried. A lot. It took some time, but eventually my heart recovered. I felt better. And then, with a little more time, I felt happy. Hearts are truly wonderful that way—they break and then they heal, they hurt and then they don’t, and with all that pain, they grow. That’s how they become better, stronger, even more beautiful.”

Lilly looked at me and I noticed a twinkle in her dark brown eyes. “You know I’m only in fifth grade, right?,” she asked.

I laughed and said, “Right. Well, don’t be in too big of a hurry to grow up! And I can promise you this, we will have this conversation many, many times over the years to come! I’ll always be here.”

She wiped her nose on a stray Chick-Fil-A napkin left in the front seat and mumbled, “Thanks.” After a pause she added, “I’m going in to get a snack now.”

I watched her close her car door and walk into the house. I couldn’t help but notice that the brunette hair, the lanky frame, and the side profile belonged to another important person in my life. Someone who meant the world to me. Someone who loved me, wanted me, chose me. Her daddy.

In a quiet moment alone in my car, I realized—as I have realized hundreds of times before—that things worked out, that all is well and good. My heartbreaks taught me about myself—my goodness and my capacity to love—and about the incredible strength and resilience I possess. They taught me more about what I want (James!) and what I deserve (James!) than I could have ever imagined. And thank goodness, thank goodness, thank goodness they happened. Because, eventually and blessedly, they led me down a path to James. To his hands. To his light. To his heart.

Everything is exactly as it should be.


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