My Little Girl

I had apparently brushed aside her bashful requests too long. So over Christmas break our youngest child and only daughter renewed an old petition: She wanted her ears pierced! Such a mundane entreaty has a strange affect on an old dad who finds it a bit disconcerting to watch his little girl mature into a young…well, you know—I can’t even bring myself to write the word.

We sat down on the couch for a talk—a short one for me, a very long and unnecessary one in her estimation. I asked if she couldn’t wait a while longer, like maybe another 30 years or so. I asked rather melodramatically if she had counted the cost—if she was willing to endure the pain and follow the disinfecting regimen without grumbling. Most important I asked her why she wanted her ears pierced. She explained very matter-of-factly that she wanted to “look good.” I explained very matter-of-factly that I had no idea why that mattered or how earrings could help her attain such a ridiculous objective.

She sighed and rolled her eyes a good bit during our conversation. She endured my stall tactics with commendable patience. She also found revolting my insinuation that her request might perhaps be motivated by a desire to impress boys. I found solace in her repugnance toward the notion, while conceding in my mind that my relief is doomed to have a short shelf-life.

Having successfully passed her interview with me, we went to the mall a few days later. There, a jewelry store manager took my little girl, strapped her down like a lamb for slaughter, and drilled two holes into her head! And I was supposed to stand there with hands folded, smiling politely! To my daughter’s relief I behaved myself, squelching the primal desire to inflict severe bodily damage upon the manager. Meanwhile my dear wife cheerily snapped pictures of an event I cannot imagine anyone wanting to remember.

The deed was done; and the little girl who needs no additional orifices in her body to convince me she looks beautiful “as is” was on her way to a life of heightened fashion. I comforted myself that at least this had nothing to do with boys.

I was happy for her, in the end; but I also had a strange sensation that something precious had slipped a little further through my fingers. It was another indicator that my little girl is growing up and that my days as the number one man in her life are limited.

Later during the same vacation break, our family spent a day at an area ski hill. The whole ear piercing matter was fresh on my mind. My daughter and I found ourselves together for a while as we skied down an easy hill that suited her fancy. We took the two-seat chairlift up that hill time after time. While the gentle slope held little excitement for me as a skier, I found fulfillment in serving as my daughter’s proud guardian and protector on each chairlift ride to the summit.

We got separated at the end of a particular run. I spotted her in the line ahead of me awaiting the chairlift. As I tried to reach her, calling her name, I heard a voice holler out from a gaggle of boys, “Hey, Austin, go with her.” I had no idea who Austin was, but I fairly broke into a cold sweat to realize “her” was my daughter! “Hey, she’s supposed to ride the chairlift with me,” I thought, as protective, fatherly concern set in. But before I was able to do anything to intervene, my “her” was ascending the hill seated next to an “Austin.” Sadly, there was nothing I could do to rescue her. Happily, her ears were covered by a stocking cap.

So as I stood at the bottom of that hill alone in a crowd, I watched my daughter whisked away with a boy at her side. I could not miss the foreshadowing of how difficult it will likely be someday to release her into the arms of a young man for whom she longs to look good and who notices more than her earrings. It was not long ago that she used to say she wanted to marry me when she grew up. She doesn’t mention that idea anymore. Someday she may join a recessional on the arm of a young man who will not deserve her but with whom she will joyfully choose to ascend the hills and descend the valleys of life from that point forward.

As I watched her slowly disappear up the hill, the Creators’ words of counsel provided preparatory solace: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and shall be united to his wife” (Gen. 2:24). My daughter does not belong to me, I am reminded, but to God. Should God ordain it, I will soon be called to release her from my fatherly protection to the care of her husband. On that day I know my heart will be pierced, but I cling to the heart of the one who “so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16a) to redeem his people and give them life.

Rooted in that grander reality I hope someday to find the grace to joyfully release my daughter for the glory of our Savior. I rejoice now to know my Father is slowly, patiently preparing me for that trying day. And I take heart to know that at least he understands how hard this all is.


Dan Miller has served as the Senior Pastor of Eden Baptist Church since 1989. He graduated from Pillsbury Baptist Bible College with a B.S. degree in 1984 and his graduate degrees include a M.A. in History from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and the M.Div. and Th.M. from Central Baptist Theological Seminary. He is nearing completion of D.Min. studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Dan is married to Beth and the Lord has blessed them with four children: Ethan, Levi, Reed and Whitney.

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There are 9 Comments

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Thank you Dan for sharing a very personal reflection. Your examination and response of this process with your daughter is exemplary. I suspect one day she will indeed marry her father in the form of another man seeing she is the recipient of a father who is guiding her with the utmost care and such a template is the one to which undoubtedly she will hold in her response to the process of finding a mate.

JohnBrian's picture

Thank you for sharing.

When I walked the youngest of my 2 daughters down the aisle 5 years ago, I wished I had had more daughters. As it is I only will have the privilege of doing that 1 more time.

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Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

The other day our 11 yr old daughter was traipsing through the living room looking much older than 11, with her long flowing hair, sunglasses on her head, and her rather sophisticated fashion sense. My husband looks at me desperately and says "Honey, make her STOP!" Sometimes I wonder if he is going to survive long enough to see her married if he is going to panic every time he sees glimpses of the woman she will become. http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php ][img ]http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-confused009.gif[/img ]

We also only have one girl, and it is interesting how differently we feel about the ways our boys and girls begin to change and mature.

Dick Dayton's picture

I well remember when our "little girl" had her ears pierced. Her brother and I had been at Junior Boys Camp, where I was Paul's counselor. We told Krista, "It will hurt." She said, "That's OK, it's just for a little" Then we said, "There will be blood." She said "I won't see it." That was many years ago. On a recent trip to Ohio, we went with Krista and Matt while their daughter had her ears pierced, and the memories came back.
Dads, as we approach Father's Day, remember to shower your little girls with affection, affirmation, and Biblical counsel and example. Treat them with dignity, respect, and appreciation. Don't be afraid to hug them appropriately. Love their mothers sacrificially, so that, when they pick a mate, they will look for a man who loves the Lord and them in a Biblical manner. It is true that girls often look for a man who seems to mirror what they thought they saw in dad. We must bathe our child rearing in prayer, because we are dependent upon the grace of God to lead them.
Our "baby" and her husband are coming up on their 17th anniversary, and it is a joy to interact with them as two adult Christian couples fellowshipping together. Though we are over 700 miles apart, and are not able to get together often, we rejoice at the close fellowship we have with them.
When we first started parenting 41 years ago, a godly lady in our church said, "Each stage of parenting has its joys and struggles. Learn to appreciate the joys and to endure the struggles, and keep your eyes on the Lord."

Dick Dayton

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

This one really resonated w/me also. I have thought something along the lines of "Make her stop!" too. But usually quickly followed by "Why would I want to do that?!"
But there are variations of the same feelings for all the kids. I was telling one of them the other day that I love who they are now but I still miss who they used to be.

NathanL's picture

Nicest thing I've read in a long time.

BryanBice's picture

...who read this wonderful, personal reflection with a broken heart. Those little girls with whom their fathers shared such traumatic decisions and tender moments have grown up and taken flight. Their fathers beamed with pride at the educational accomplishments, smiled with joyful delight at apparent spiritual development and godly decisions, and fought back the tears--maybe unsuccessfully--on the day they relinquished the young bride, their "little girl," into the care of another man.

But now gone for a while, those once apparently godly daughters have abandoned the faith and lost any desire to please the Lord. Baser pleasures appeal and are pursued with abandon, even in defiance of the husbands that love them. Indeed, for some, the marriage is over; for others, it teeters on the brink. This weekend, dad will likely get the obligatory card and maybe a call....everyone will sound cheery...but dad's heart is breaking, being pierced by his little girl's path of self destruction. And just like that hole in the ear lobe, the hole in the heart--does it ever close up?

Pardon the slip into 70s pop culture, but I couldn't help thinking of some of the lyrics to an old BeeGees song, How Can You Mend a Broken Heart

Quote:
I can think of younger days when living for my life
Was everything a man could want to do
I could never see tomorrow, but I was never told about the sorrow

And how can you mend a broken heart?
How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go round?
How can you mend this broken man?
How can a loser ever win?
Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again

I can still feel the breeze that rustles through the trees
And misty memories of days gone by
We could never see tomorrow, no one said a word about the sorrow

And how can you mend a broken heart?
How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go round?
How can you mend this broken man?
How can a loser ever win?
Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again

Thanks, Dan, for the trip down memory lane....those "misty memories of days gone by...." And forgive me for spoiling an otherwise wonderful thread.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Aaron Blumer wrote:

But there are variations of the same feelings for all the kids. I was telling one of them the other day that I love who they are now but I still miss who they used to be.

I miss the previous stages too. My only two children are girls. I don't recall getting too concerned when they had their ears pierced, or when they started looking like young women more than little girls. The thing I miss is being able to put them up on my shoulders and do things like skip and run with them up there. Pretty much everywhere we went I carried one or the other like that until they were too old for that to be either appropriate or practical. Even though it has its trials as well, I find I'm enjoying the teen stage with them a lot, but I still miss carrying them around ...

Dave Barnhart

Diane Heeney's picture

This is just the reason that "Cherish the Moment" gets to me every time I hear it. I am not ordinarily much for overly sentimental songs, but that one captures all those childhood moments and then drives it all home with the potent "soon comes the day when you'll have no child to hold...so cherish the moment." Some young girls sang this just prior to my having to get up and speak at a ladies function recently. So not fair. :cry:

Our oldest daughter just entered the teen arena in December, ushered into her new identity as a young woman via the long-anticipated experience of ear piercing as well (she had to wait until she turned 13). The outward changes have been significant, but the most beautiful thing about this "process" for me has been the lovely changes I am observing in her spirit and demeanor. Even yesterday Erin had a challenge she was facing in her spiritual life and she came to talk with me about it...so honestly and contritely, with a concern and sensitivity for personal holiness that far exceeds many grown women I have known. I love watching her grow into a godly, compassionate woman who can make a difference for the cause of Christ.

But I'm grateful that she still likes to hold my hand. Smile

"I pray to God this day to make me an extraordinary Christian." --Whitefield http://strengthfortoday.wordpress.com

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