Like so many Michigan families, we made the late winter/early spring trek to Florida. Each year we went to the same area of the gulf coast. Our days were filled with digging holes in the sand, building castles on the beach, swimming, and trips to the Circle K for snacks and drinks.
Next to the convenient store was The Barefoot Trader. It was the ultimate tourist trap selling everything from towels to t-shirts to trinkets. During those springs the kids would squirrel away money or do a range of tasks in order to have a few bucks to take with them. I don’t remember the exact year but Ally was quite young yet old enough to have her own loot.
Every time we went into The Barefoot Trader she would search through the racks and shelves looking for the perfect treasure to take home. She would usually pause the longest in front of a glass case filled with glitter globes. Just before our week was over, Ally eventually settled on one about the size of a baseball with a mermaid in it. You could tell she was proud of her prize and knew she had already picked out a special place for it in her room.
For some reason Ally and I were on a flight separate from the rest of the family. I talked to her about how we should package and pack her mermaid. She refused, unwavering that the only safe place for her glitter globe was in her hand. I did my best to talk her out of her plan but she was adamant. I tried to tell her of how late the flight was. I warned her that she would grow tired. I pleaded for her to trust the flight crew…they’d be careful and make sure nothing happened to it. But no. We boarded the plane. Her tiny backpack on her back. One hand holding mine. The other clutching the globe.
For two and half hours we flew into the night and she held that thing with total attentiveness. Upon arriving in Flint, I decided to carry her to the baggage claim. While we stood there waiting my little girl drifted off to sleep causing her to lose her grip. The glass smashed. The water and glitter spilled. The mermaid sat alone on the gaudy airport carpeting. And Ally was just as shattered.
I felt like someone just punched me in the gut. It was no time to lecture her on how right I was…how she should have listened to me…or what she could have done differently. If I could have gotten back on that plane right then – I would have. I would have gone back to the Barefoot Trader and sat in front until it opened. But I couldn’t. All I could do was hold her and reassure her that it would be ok.
Jesus said, “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
Being a dad has helped me realize God doesn’t have it in for us. He doesn’t delight in our failures just so He can teach us a lesson. Nor is He out there with a carrot on a stick, manipulating His children, brow beating His children, or intentionally keeping them in the dark. If we don’t do that to our own kids…why would He?
ps – We made a phone call to grandma the next morning and in only a couple weeks an identical glitter globe took it’s place in Ally’s room.