“No! I want it the right way,” my then-six-year-old daughter Michelle screamed. “How do babies get inside a mommy’s tummy? And don’t tell me anymore God stories.”
Now we all know God plays a major role in the birth of any child. After all, it’s a pure miracle. But my inquisitive daughter wanted the facts and only the facts.
“Honey,” I slowly began. “Remember how mommy always says if I don’t have the answer I’ll have to get back to you? Well, this is one of those times.”
And for the next several hours I stewed, sweated, and researched how to impart the facts of life to a child who was still a baby herself.
“Give it to her simply,” a nursing friend instructed. “She’ll guide you with how much information she can absorb.”
That night, as I laid her down in her Barbie Doll sheets, I began, “Well, mommy has the egg and daddy has the seed…” Carefully I traversed the story of how she came into this world just short of the implementation. All was going swimmingly (no pun intended) until she asked, “Mommy, so how does that seed get inside? Do you eat it?”
“Oh my God! Now, what do I do?” I thought terrified. But the Lord in all his wisdom somehow imparted me with the verbal tools to give the information her little mind could comprehend. With a few carefully selected syllables, she became satisfied and settled down for her nighttime story.
Throughout my life, I’ve never had any problems telling the truth– as long as it was my truth. I was never a good liar because I always got caught mid-sentence. I knew honesty was the best policy in my case. But I found that whenever it came to telling someone else what their truth was, my tongue grew cotton.
On a visit to the eye doctor with my ninety-five-year-old father, I was faced with having to tell my sweet daddy the hard reality of his fading eyes.
Macular Degeneration, loss of vision in the center of the visual field due to damage to the retina, was playing havoc with his sight. Ever the eternal optimist, he was sure he’d get better. For months, he’d been enduring horrific shots into the eye socket to keep the disease at bay. The doctor let us know that the results were not what he was hoping for, unfortunately.
Because he was nearly deaf, it was up to me to lean over his crippled body and relay the doctor’s words.
“Dad, I’m so sorry. You’re eyes are tired. Too much damage has been done, and you’ll never see clearly again.”
“Never?” he asked, tears misting in his once crystal blue eyes.
Holding back the emotion that was about to explode in my heart, I answered him honestly, “No dad. Never.”
Backing away, it nearly killed me to see the sadness in his face. This man is the closest thing to God I’ll ever know, and he deserved to be treated much better by the Almighty in his final years. Rage filled my heart, and I wanted to perform one of my petulant screaming tantrums. Knowing my father would want honesty, all I could do was give him the truth. There was no way to dance around this one and he deserved it.
As I wheeled him out of the doctor’s office, both of us unable to speak, I could feel an indirect gift being bestowed on this disheartening moment by the universe. The delicate silk thread that wove this father and daughter’s heart together was now lined in gold. Our relationship had always been based on love and trust. There never were, nor never would be, any lies or secrets between us. This freed our souls to bond. And in the end, he knows I’ll be right by his side, truth in hand, to help him on his journey home.
How do you handle a subject when you find yourself in a corner, and the truth is difficult to tell?