The stars twinkle outside her bedroom window, like glitter.
Or maybe they’re more like diamonds strung on a necklace, dangling over our roof and our farmfields.
It’s spring now, and the nights seem clearer, the stars brighter.
So my oldest daughter and I lie on her bed, on the inside of the glass, with the lamp off. We curve into one another, watching stars perform some magic — making this dark universe a little bit brighter.
It’s a school night, and we stay up far too late talking about how those impossibly small stars can cut a million holes over our farm, and over our neighbors up the road, and even way down over our friends’ huts in Haiti.
We talk about other stars, too. We talk about the “people stars” — especially the ones who want to be supernovas with microphones, light-years ahead of the competition. They are the ones who are heard and known and noisy. They are winning the game and making the name and getting the fame.
And the rest of us? We might be tempted to sit in the bleachers with stars in our eyes.
Outside the window, we can hear two farm cats hiss in a late-night squabble under the stars.
“You know,” I tell my girl, “we really are like stars, and we really are made to shine. But we weren’t made to shine so we can be seen better, Lydia. We were made to shine so others can see God better.”
Lydia nods. She’s 11, still young enough to listen to her mother when I yank an object-lesson down from the night sky.
I pull Lydia in tighter, and tell her about the book I’d been reading, the book about idols that battle for a person’s heart. I told her how idols can dress up in clever disguises, wearing virtues we value in our home. Virtues like having goals, working hard, doing your best.
Yes, daughter, success can be an idol.
Even when you’re a kid, the idol of success can begin to make you think that “doing your best” really means “being THE best.” The allure of prestige and power and awards carries far too much value. (You don’t have to look far past the soccer field or the spelling-bee stage to see that.)
And I see them there … two of Lydia’s speech trophies sitting next to the glass, on her windowsill.
And my, how proud we are of her.
But we pray she doesn’t keep score of her own life by her trophies, or the number of visitors she gets to her blog.
On this night, I don’t tell my daughter what I did months ago. I turned off the technical-thingy that tracks how many visitors come to my blog. I’ll tell her someday, when the time is right. (And I don’t tell you that here now, because I’m feeling proud or super-righteous. Nor do I think every blogger should shut down their stat-counter. I tell you only because I admit that my emotions can be manipulated by numbers. Someday, I’ll tell you more about that. )
On this night, I do tell Lydia about the book I’m reading. In “Gods at War,” Kyle Idleman quotes a study that examined the predominant message of TV shows that are most popular these days with preteens. The TV show message of this age: “a successful life is all about finding a way to be famous.”
While my girl and I star-gaze, I ask her if she thinks the book is right about all of that.
“Oh yeah. For sure, Mom,” she says, then counts off the TV shows on her fingers–
Outside the window, those luminous stars shine like fireflies.
And right then, I’m thinking about stepping up on a soapbox, telling Lydia more about how stars don’t exist for their own glory. They point to a Creator. And they always light up something else. She’ll know it — sure as daylight in the morning — when our own star rises over the eastern horizon…
I stay off the soapbox. It’s late, and I suppose she knows more than I’m giving her credit for anyway.
We pray instead.
Then I lift myself from the bed, up into the darkness toward the door. But before I leave the room, she wants to tell me something.
“Mom?” she says.
I’m standing in the starlight by the window.
“Mom, I do know what the Bible says. I do know why we’re really made to shine.”
Right then, I can feel a lump rising up in my throat, and my voice catches:
“I know you do, honey. I know you do. I love you, dear.”
Then I pull a white cord to close the blinds.
Photo credits: (1) (2) (3) Sourced via Flickr, through Creative Commons.
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