The other night, Miss Susie and I took a couple of Kids’ Club girls out for a picnic. Our group was going to number seven (including us), but it ended up just being four of us. Only Katie* and Rachelle* ended up being able to come, last-minute, and I think it was God-thing.
We had sandwiches and cupcakes and pop and chips. Our picnic was hilariously fun. Carefree, riotous giggles and wide smiles. A cupcake fight, blue frosting smeared on hands and faces. Me laughing at Rachelle’s random comment, “Why would I spend money on beer when I can buy shoes?”
Katie and Rachelle, being the creative and crazy people that they are, introduced us to mixing root beer and red punch together. I cringed at first and was pleasantly surprised with the first sip. Miss Susie and I laughed, when they looked at us, raised eyebrows, and said, “SEE. You can trust us.”
I watched the girls scamper and run like little children and my heart ached with the grace of the sun-splashed moment. They were little girls today, but their innocence hangs in the balance on a thin thread.
“You know it’s just a matter of time?” I speak the words slowly and they feel heavy. I hardly breathe as they settle thickly in the air. The ache inside deepens as I watch them run, wildly waving their hands in childish gestures. They laugh freely and loud, like something inside their heart was set free.
I look at Susie. Her eyes are shadowed, washed over with grief…they look how I feel.Jesus, please. My heart is crying.
I want to bottle this moment up and drink it in the days to come. I know there are uglier moments ahead and I want to remember this grace of innocence and laughter and free-spiritedness. I savor it.
Miss Susie gives each girl a white rose and we start talking about purity. I look at each girl and tell them, “You’re special. Don’t forget that…ever.” Katie looks like she might cry and silently nods her head. Rachelle stares out the window of the car.
We keep talking. The value of waiting. Their own intrinsic value. “I’m so proud of your decision to wait.”
They shyly smile. “People laugh at us,” they say, “When we tell them we’re virgins, they make fun of us.”
The deep ache in my heart, the chasm of grief, grows wider.
“They’ll be jealous of you someday. If you wait – for true love, and one man, and commitment, you will be so blessed. It will be pure and right. You won’t regret that and they will envy you.” The words tumble out in a pleading rush.
“You can only give yourself away for the first time, once,” Miss Susie adds. “Give yourself to the man you marry. If you wait for that, it will be the best moment of your life.”
We tell the girls to dry the roses and remember.
When I say good-bye, I crush the girls in a big hug to my chest. I feel their heartbeat. They hug back – long and quiet. My ache is their longing.
Jesus please. My heart cries, anguished, as I watch them run laughing, back to their house.Jesus please.
*names changed to protect privacy