Family and Friend Relationships

My Hopes for My Goddaughter

I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.  ~ Ephesians 1:16-17

This past summer, my thirteen-year-old goddaughter came to visit me in New York City. I’ve kept her for extended periods since she was born, so having her on my own for a four-day weekend was not a concern for me, especially since it was her second time visiting me in New York (the first time she had come with her mother). Over the years, my goddaughter has been one of my road buddies, joining me on a couple of weekend trips to visit family. She has always been a delight and I was truly excited at the thought of her and I exploring the City together.

The person who showed up was not the little girl I knew. She was sullen, silent, monosyllabic when she spoke, passionless, distant and disinterested in her surroundings. Those few days with her were by far the most uncomfortable and painful stretch of time I’ve ever spent with anyone. She was obviously hurting. She was obviously in hiding. But she refused to speak. She refused to act. She wouldn’t tell me what was troubling her, so I could do nothing to assist her. I did express to her that I love her and was willing to help her with whatever was troubling her whenever she was willing to speak and tell me what she needed.

I wrote the below passage for her while still in the airport, just after putting her on the plane back to her mother.

My hopes for my Goddaughter:

I pray that you learn to receive love and hospitality with grace and gratitude – with an open heart that is willing to give back. We get the most when we give of ourselves.

I pray that you learn to live your life fully – without fear that your personality will outshine all those around you. Use your voice – it’s the only way people will truly get to know you.

I pray you come to realize soon that no one owes you anything (I don’t owe you anything), nor do you owe anyone anything. However, we should do our best to treat people how we want to be treated. In this lies  the importance of how we give and receive hospitality.

Life is an experience, not a contest of wills. We need to show up fully to experience all that life has in store for us. Everywhere you go should be better served for having shared your presence. This means that you need to be present wherever you are. You can’t just show up, take what’s on offer and not interact or contribute to the experience. If you do, you are sure to receive far less than what was originally on offer. Ingratitude breeds stinginess.

I pray that you learn to express gratitude, give and receive love, and communicate where you are at any given moment so others can meet you where you are or where you will need them.

I pray you learn to appreciate your life and all the people God placed in your path to help you along. Appreciation breeds gratitude.

You are precious and loved. I hope you come to embrace this knowledge and allow it to build you up.