On the morning of the first day of school, a sweet excitement filled the air in the car as we drove toward her school. We chatted about who she was excited to see and what she thought she’d learn this year and how she thought first grade would be different than kindergarten.
As we turned the corner to drive behind the school for drop off, she automatically fell silent and I began praying for her. It’s been our tradition since she went to mother’s day out as a preschooler, that we pray together during our last couple of minutes before we part for the day. Boldness…courage…strength…love….I ask God to pour it all out on her as she heads into the day. On that particular morning, yesterday morning, it all felt very familiar and sacred, this beginning of a brand new year and the anticipation of unknown adventures up ahead.
As we came around a curve by the playground behind the school, I saw it: a snake, at least 5 feet long, slithering across the road. Its head was raised as its dark curves slinked across the road, and I – unable to swerve or stop (and honestly, not too concerned about it because GROSS) – ran over the snake.
I shuddered as I finished my prayer.
“Yuck. There’s gotta be some symbolism there,” I thought.
I picked her up eight hours later, eager to hear about her big day. She chattered for nearly an hour, straight through our ride home and a snack and the unloading of the backpack. Eventually she came around to it: “Somebody laughed at me when I was praying this morning during the moment of reflection.”
I stopped in my tracks, her lunchbox in my hand and the cat winding in and out of my feet.
“What happened, honey? Tell me about what happened.”
And she filled me in on how she had closed her eyes to pray during the allotted 30 seconds of silence, only to open her eyes and find the little boy across from her pointing at her and laughing. Laughing at her innocent faith…her boldness in speaking to God where other people could see her…her quiet reliance on the Lord as she started her new year.
It broke my heart. So many things rushed through my mind as I knelt next to her to try to encourage her. As we talked, I sought wisdom and words for a situation I hadn’t seen coming.
Anger. The nerve of that kid…
Pride. I’m so proud of her…
Concern. Lord, please don’t let her lose her nerve because of his reaction…
Desperation. God, please keep making her bold…
Fear. Don’t let her be like me…don’t let her worry about what people think….
I hadn’t seen this situation coming, though I probably should have. We talked about it for awhile and she seemed to forget about it as we put in a lighthearted DVD to watch together.
As we cuddled on the sofa, though, I remembered the snake. The creepy, slithering darkness that almost interrupted my morning prayer. As we sat together and I rested my chin on the top of her head, I was struck the powerful Truth that just as I have an enemy who tries to derail my every effort to draw near to God, so does she.
She – at just six years old – is doing her best to be close to God in the middle of everyday moments, but the craftiness of our enemy isn’t dissuaded by her youth. He persists in the snickers and disapproval of the other children. He has tools for every situation…unique methods for every person.
It gives me chills to think of the resistance she will face. Who knows what else will be coming her way?
This morning, as we drove those same roads on the way to school, I reminded her of our conversation yesterday. I told her again that I’m proud of her for praying. That I’m so happy she knows she can talk to God anywhere and anytime. That I hope she’ll keep praying even if the little boy at her table doesn’t get it. That she can use this as a way to show God to someone who doesn’t know. That God has put her where He has her for a reason.
But I also reminded her that what’s most important is that she talks to God.
And I assured her that if she needs to pray with her eyes open, that’s okay. That if she wants to do it where the little boy can’t tell she’s praying, God is okay with that. Because ultimately, the enemy will continue in his advances whether or not she prays, but she will only be equipped to handle it if she does.
There is one thing I forgot to tell her this morning, though, that I’ll be sure to say this afternoon as we have our snacks. She needs to know that her mama is praying for her, too, and God is cheering for her. I’ll remind her that whatever happens with the little boy and the moment of silence and anything else this year may bring, she’s not facing it alone.