In 1993, I had a baby girl. When the baby girl was five, her daddy gave her a little batik print sundress he brought home from a trip. She loved the way the tiers of fluid rayon fabric swirled as she moved, and she wore it every day. And every day, at least once, and sometimes several times, she would ask me or her daddy to put one particular CD in the player and play what she called the “Promises Song.” She swirled and twirled non-stop for the duration of the song — the entire 2 minutes and 37 seconds. In all the spinning, she never got dizzy.
One day the little dancer spied my prayer journal laying on the coffee table. Earlier that day, I had been writing about a childhood experience I had when I was just about her age. As a child of the 50’s, with an older brother, a younger brother, and four neighbor boys in the other side of our duplex, there were ample opportunities for me to internalize negative stereotyping as to what it meant to be a girl. As I wrote, I realized that I had muted or hidden aspects of my true self in order to fit in with the expectations of society, as well as the dominant “boy” culture surrounding me. I acknowledged that in spite of the various ways these things had affected my self-image, I had never actually wished to be anything other than a girl. I also acknowledged that those personal qualities and attributes I had misguidedly suppressed needed to re-emerge and become reintegrated in my “self.” Bottom line: I needed healing.
While no one was looking, pencil in hand, my daughter took a notion to add her own “entry.” Finding a fresh page, she scrawled a handful of upper case letters, accompanied by a simple drawing. At that time, her first name was all she really knew how to write without help. The next day, I picked up my journal and reread what I’d written the day before. Then I turned the page. What I saw blew me away.
There at the top of the page, clearly lettered, was the word “RAPHA,” and beside it, a happy little girl. This stunned me, since the letters “P” and “H” weren’t part of her name, and I was fairly certain my little kindergartener didn’t know how to write them yet. Besides that, how would she have known — how could she have known? — that the Hebrew word, Rapha, is one of the names of God? Jehovah Rapha, the Lord Who Heals. Her Holy Spirit breathed written word, along with the image of the smiling “stick” girl with open arms communicated to me that Jesus — the One Who Heals — was present to heal, if I was open to it. Filled with wonder, I wrote:
[My daughter] was sent into my life to be an agent of healing. She is about the age I might have been when things were negatively affecting my identity… Lord, please help me to observe her carefully. I want a fresh look at what a five-year-old girl needs, desires, and expresses. As I watch her grow, [she] will help me reconnect.
The little stick figure girl she drew bore a strong resemblance to the little dancer who twirled and swirled every day in our living room — she, too, seemed poised ready to dance. Given the utterly inexplicable nature of the word she penned, dare I imagine that the accompanying image signified “Rapha” was inviting me to dance? Could I throw off restraints and express myself as freely and as openly as a five-year-old?
“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children ,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3, NIV)
From that day — the day my daughter left me that incredible gift in my journal, I have been presenting myself before Rapha, the God Who Heals, and He has been restoring my soul. Little by little. And along the way, I dance. Not just any dance, but the dance of a little girl — full of joy and abandon.
He’s inviting you, too. Come. Dance with me.