The Princess

Little Girl Me
I have always felt a little "out of place" and never sure where I "fit in".  When I was a little girl, I remember not knowing who really liked me, who I should trust to be my friend. At the same time, however, I wanted to be every body's friend because I didn't want anyone to feel alone or "out of place".  I felt that everyone should have a place to "fit" and I longed inside someplace deep to be a part of something bigger than what I had known or experienced or could imagine.  

I could not have articulated this as a young child, but thinking back as far as I can recall on this topic, a memory from the fourth grade stands out to me about friendship.  

A girl in my class would talk about her home and her life with her parents. Her name was Crystal Sparrow, the most beautiful name a girl could have... 

I'm sure there were things she said that were exaggerated and elaborated- it's what little girls do!  We speak of things that are real, intertwine them with our imaginations, hopes and dreams, then believe that life can be more that what we see.  

The faith of a child is a beautiful thing.

One cold day at recess in the room, maybe it was cold and rainy.  I’m not sure, but I know that the teacher had allowed us to talk quietly and play in the room for a while and my friend was describing her bedroom to us.  
Me at almost two years old.

From her words, my mind imagined and pictured a four poster bed with a canopy draped in beautiful pink and white lacy fabric.  Beside her window was  vanity where a mirror gracefully folded into thirds where she could sit and brush her beautiful hair.  There were stuffed animals and lots of baby dolls and Barbies too... It was the most enchanting room 
I had never seen with my own eyes.  I heard my self say to her "I bet your room is the most beautiful one ever.." (hear the longing in my voice to have one too) and I remember that her eyes brightened up and she said ,"oh, yes! it is so beautiful!" 

I don't think I felt negative emotions toward her, but I do remember longing to feel like the princess that she had unknowingly described her life to be.  She knew she  was loved and special and she had a beautiful place to live loved.  

I wondered why I wasn't  a princess too?  
Why was my friend and the others girls in my class 
so perfect and I was not?  
Where was my place? Would I always feel like I was just on the edge of being in the group? 
Could I ever lived loved?

I was, in fact, a princess, but I had somehow forgotten.

When I was in the second grade, I remember timidly telling my teacher that I was to be baptized that Sunday.  She was very proud of me... words that I longed to hear.  Someone. Proud of me.  

I had prayed the Sinners Prayer sometime before that school year... I am not sure of the exact date, or the preacher's name who came to do the official prayer with me... but I do remember being in Sunday School at about the age of seven or eight and another girl telling me that she had asked Jesus to live in her heart and she would live with him forever.  

I loved Jesus.  Would he come in to my heart? Would I live with him forever?  

I hesitantly asked my mother one afternoon- I remember standing in our small kitchen at the time, asking her about what these things meant and that I wanted to be baptized too.  It must have been that night when my dad came to my room and knelt down by my bed to talk to me about Jesus and to walk me through the concept that even though I was young, I needed Jesus because I was a sinner.  He was right.  

I was not good enough, could never measure up to the rules and this somehow confirmed to my little mind that I was somehow less than and I was desperate for someone to love me in the way that the my heart longed to be loved- without conditions, without reservation or limitation.  

I suppose my dad and mom wanted to be certain I was saved, so they invited the preacher over to asked and me me the Questions. I don’t remember this pastor’s name, he was not the one with the long pointy finger, but I do remember kneeling around my parents orange ottoman/footstool-the kind of orange you remember form the 60’s or 70’s.  (Its funny the things we remember!) All of this seemed odd to me at the time since, after all, I had already prayed and believed that Jesus lived in my heart.  I simply believed.

I knew my friend Crystal was not a "real" princess, but being a little girl who loved a romantic fairy tale, I positioned her in my mind to be something that I hoped to be one day.  A princess with a perfect life.  

Even in the fourth grade, I forgot that I was a princess, loved by God and chosen by Him.  

After our Christmas Break that year, Crystal did not return.  The class was told that she was sick so we prayed for her before lunch. We could still do that then, pray in school.  I missed her being there. I missed her stories. She was so pretty to me…even though I cannot remember what she looked like, I just remember thinking she was the prettiest girl ever.  

When news came that she had died, I didn't know how to process.  What did that mean?  There had been deaths in our family before, but not one that I really understood or had had a friendship with.  This was real. Real upsetting. 

I did what I usually did and pressed my emotions and through down inside.  If I expressed my sadness or grief... I don't know.  Even now as I write, I am not certain why I didn't feel that I could express my thoughts and emotions without them being wrong, or inappropriate or....forbid it...not perfect.  

I didn’t feel safe to express myself.  I did not feel I was “allowed” to express myself without begin corrected or told what was wrong with my emotions and how I “should” feel instead. 

When the emotions came, though, it was in a flood and I remember my dad kneeling by my bedside to comfort me and try to explain what death meant and how my friend was with Jesus. My dad allowed me to imperfect and to have some space to feel what I felt... and it was OK.  If only I would remember that it's OK to express yourself in a healthy and respectful way and that I could be understood without judgment if grace got a little messy.  

Grace gets messy, but grace always fills in the gaps between our imperfections and His perfect love.