It doesn’t happen too often at our house, but this morning….it happened. My youngest daughter, a sixth grader, missed her bus. Not challenging enough that it comes before any educational juices are flowing (for teachers and students), but today she came early. Instead of the normal, barely-heard-the-rooster-hour of 6:36am, she had the nerve to show up at 6:33am!! My daughter just does not think this should be! And for some reason that I don’t understand, my daughter HATES to miss the bus. Not sure if the status has changed for 6th graders riding the bus, but this is close to the crisis of the ipod/iphone being below 10% charge, or worse yet, Netflix being down!!
Anyway, we strategized, and she wanted me to run her, in my car, to her friends house. So being the good dad that I am (pat back here), we hopped in the car and ran around the corner. To her dismay, the bus had just ended its stop at her friend’s house, and was continuing on with the route. My hero instinct was to give chase and get my little girl what she wanted….to ride on the bus. Suddenly, I felt this searing stabbing pain in my arm. It was my daughter digging her nails into my arm, as she reprimanded me, “Dad, don’t! Just turn around!” Not wanting to escalate things, but not quite understanding school bus riding in the current day and age, I slowly turned the car around and headed home.
My daughter’s day was on a crash course with disappointment. I have learned that many times, this is not a time for a lot of words. So, we went back into the house, silently, I continued to get ready, and told her we would leave soon to get her to school. She grunted and kept her head laying in her arms on the kitchen table. I found myself praying asking the Lord for wisdom on how to positively move my daughter’s day forward. Not that I was responsible for making her day better, but being willing to be a part of making that happen if I could. Then, the Holy Spirit jolted me, and said that is what discipleship is all about. You can’t save anybody. You can’t make anybody’s day better. You can’t fix their cancer. You can’t heal their marriage. But you can be willing to be a part of investing in that person, and contribute to them seeing their circumstances as temporary, and demonstrate your willingness to see them through it, and provide encouragement along the way.
Jesus continually made his ministry about meeting people where they were. Sometimes he was the miracle worker, and sometimes he was the encourager. He healed the blind man’s eyes, but he healed the soul of the woman caught in adultery. He brought hope. He led with love. He was willing to roll up his sleeves and invest in the lives of people who were hopeless. He understood the stress of missing the bus.
I drove my daughter to school nearly 10 minutes later. We rode in silence for the first several minutes. “Lord, help me disciple my daughter,” I prayed. I turned on the radio to the local Christian station and the Matthew West song I blogged about the other day came on. Here is that post if you missed it: It Happened Again. The song is called “Day One” and it talks about this being the first day of the rest of your life.
So, as I pulled up to the school I said to my beautiful little girl who was having a rough morning: “Three thoughts for the day today.” She rolled her eyes. “Number one. “Sometimes you miss the bus.” She raises her hand as if to say, “Dad, really?” I promptly continue, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” She gives me an obligatory smirk kind of letting me know that she is thinking…”I see what you did there, dad.” Thought three: “I love you!” She took a deep breath combined with a sigh. Tilted her head to the side as if thinking. Turned to me and smiled the most gorgeous genuine smile and said, “I love you too!” My little girl hopped out of the car, slammed my door (which she always does whether happy or sad), and with a bounce in her step, went into school waving and smiling.
In that moment, I felt God smile. Not because she was my daughter and I had magically made things better for her. More for the fact that I was able to be willing to invest in her well-being, not feeling like I needed to teach her something about how not to be late for the bus, but to lead with love and encourage her, and ensure that she is ok and it was all going to be Ok. I believe that approach is at the heart of discipleship and I hope I can get that right with more people, more often.
Would it be wrong of me to make my daughter miss the bus again tomorrow? 🙂