Meeting Penny and Dana
“People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.” – Mark 10: 13 – 16
“It might be a surprise that Christ asks our permission to come in and heal, but you may remember that famous passage from Revelation, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock” (3:20 NKJV). He doesn’t force his way in, and the principle remains true after we have given Christ the initial access to our hearts that we call salvation. There are rooms we have kept locked up, places He has not had access to by our own will, and in order to experience his healing, we must also give him permission to come in there.” – Chapter 8, Walking the Dead
Last night we found ourselves in the Apple store to repair a cracked phone screen. I wandered through to the back with my kids where thankfully, they have some seating and distractions for whichever family member is tagging along. My son quickly created a tunnel and started darting through it, and my daughter then sat on the tunnel and reprimanded him for building it in the first place. Sigh. The youngest and the oldest in full form. As we waited, there was a sweet girl, twirling around the area, waiting for her parents to finish their conversation with the technician. She spotted Emma, and walked over. Her opening line was, “Will you be my best friend?”
My heart literally caught in my throat. What an innocent display of vulnerability. Who even does that? Walks right up to someone and speaks from the heart, exactly what they need? To my delight, Emma exclaimed “Yes!” and they began playing right away. I smiled, and was so grateful in that moment, that my kids are still fairly open-hearted themselves, and found this to be a fairly normal invitation.
It struck me that as an adult, it is so unusual to hear someone speak their desires directly, without all those pesky layers of defensiveness we tend to put up. It reminded me of the story in Mark 10, where Jesus embraced the little children and told the adults essentially, ‘This is what your heart needs to look like to enter the kingdom of heaven.’ (my paraphrase). It can be so difficult, as adults, to have the strength to keep our hearts that vulnerable.
Later on that same evening, I was waiting in line for coffee, and after some small talk, the woman behind me commented that my kids looked like twins for a moment, and then she saw the height difference when they stood. This opened up a conversation about their age difference (20 months). We laughed a bit about the initial struggles of having children close in age. And then I figured, ‘what the heck? I’ll never see this woman again.’ And I offered up a small vulnerability of my own, and let her know that my own fertility issues had influenced their age gap. Essentially, I hadn’t had the luxury of planning a desired age gap. I had no control of the situation. I could not plan; I could only pray. But I ended up with 2 healthy thriving kids, a boy and a girl – what more could I ask for?
She smiled and shared in that joy with me. Her name was Dana. And then unexpectedly, she shared her incredible story. She is one of 6 children. Her mom had 4 boys, and then was done – absolutely done – having children. When she discovered she was pregnant with Dana, she was angry. She started asking around to see where she could get an abortion. Judging by Dana’s age, this was in the 1970’s, and thankfully, getting an abortion was difficult. When she couldn’t find a doctor to help her, she attempted to perform the abortion herself. Thank God, she was not successful. When she finally was in the delivery room, she was still upset and was telling the doctor she could not have one more boy. Finally, the baby was born and the doctor presented Dana’s mom with her beautiful, healthy daughter.
What struck me most is that this is deep pain – the rejection of your mother. But Dana spoke to me about it from a healed heart. She spoke about it with joy and thankfulness, not with any bitterness. This was a story she only knew because her mother had shared it with her. And they walked through that path of healing together.
So there they were, my two examples in one evening of living with a healed, restored heart. Penny has an innocent heart, just beginning on the journey of life. But incredibly, Dana has the heart of a warrior, who has been through life, has touched some terrifying truths about her past, and has emerged joyful, with a story to share. That is what a restored heart looks like. I was so privileged to witness and share the joy with her.
- Bekah Arias