Dozens of ten-year-old girls in western-looking clothes swung down the dance floor with their fathers. Their colorful skirts whirled in tandem with their full laughs as they enjoyed the annual Father/Daughter Square Dance hosted by our church’s girl’s ministry. To my delight, my dad had said yes when I had asked him to attend with me the week before. He stood beside me now.
I was proud to introduce him for the first time to many of my friends. This was my dad after all, and he didn’t know any of my friends except from what I had mentioned in conversation. We joined in the next dance and then headed towards the snacks table where I spotted my tall friend Bernadette. Her short black hair, flushed cheeks, and bright red finger nails made her look like Snow White.
“Hey, Bernadette!” I called. She walked over in a few long-legged strides. “This is my dad. Dad, this is my friend Bernadette from school.”
“Oh.” She said it with downward inflection and a wary look in her eye. This was obviously not going to be much of a conversation.
“Hi, Bernadette.” My dad tried to act friendly although the tension was tangible. After a couple of seconds of staring at probably the only divorced adult she had ever met, my friend turned and walked away. Well, that could have gone better, I thought.
This is was one of the times in my young life when I felt especially different from my church friends. Normally the subject of my divorced parents simply didn’t come up, but when it did, the contrast was evident.
It wasn’t until later that I gradually began to learn just how valuable my different-ness can be. I have had experiences that other kids around me never have. I have learned lessons that I can share with my friends when they are going through a hard time, because I have already had to deal with some of the same things. What an amazing opportunity!
Embrace your experience because of what God wants to teach you through it. He does not waste anything – not even something people might look terribly unfortunate. Through Jesus, our situations are redeemed.