As we walk in, she turns silently to me and holds out her arms for me to carry her. We both know this is what she needs to be brave.
There in the middle of the room are Leanna and Brycen. They haven’t seen her yet.
“Will you go with me to them?” she asks in a small voice. She is nervous, but I can hear she is excited too.
I put her down, hold her hand, and walk with her toward the rollicking children.
They see her. Leanna squeals her name, and they run into each other’s arms. Nia is beaming.
“Nia!” Brycen shouts, patting her back to get her attention. He’d told her at school that he would be at the party. “I’m here! Nia, I’m here!” He has kept his word. She turns to him with a huge smile, and they hug. She kisses his hair.
This is big for her, to find herself at home in a brand new place. All because her best friends are there, and because they are literally bouncing with delight that she has arrived. Four months ago she was melting down when we went any new place, and today she only melted down when we left.
God’s been nudging me lately about vulnerability. It’s not something I find pleasant. I prefer to pretend I am self-sufficient. It is too scary to reveal to someone else that I need them, or even want them. But as I watched Brycen declare himself to my daughter, reminding her that he’d done what he promised and simply taking it for granted that this was what she wanted, I realized that his four-year-old vulnerability is exactly what I need. He’d let her see how much he wanted to see her happy that he was there. And this was the very thing that made the difference for her. It changed the course of her day. Could I give this to someone else?
“Receiving is just as important [as giving], because by receiving we reveal to the givers that they have gifts to offer. When we say, ‘Thank you, you gave me hope; thank you, you gave me a reason to live; thank you, you allowed me to realise my dream,’ we make givers aware of their unique and precious gifts. Sometimes it is only in the eyes of the receivers that givers discover their gifts.” – Henri Nouwen