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Friday, March 18, 2011

...the help of my daughters...

Nehemiah 3:12 - Shallum son of Hallohesh, ruler of a half-district of Jerusalem, repaired the next section with the help of his daughters.

A little explanation. I'm reading Nehemiah right now for the fun of it. I'm learning about leadership, conflict, resilience, vision, planning, team dynamic, delegation, criticism, prayer, listening to God, and failure.

In the aforementioned verse, Shallum was a ruler of what is described as the half-district of Jerusalem and he was in charge of rebuilding a section of the wall of Jerusalem. It is described as "the next section" meaning that there were several sections butting up against each other around the city that others were in charge of rebuilding simultaneously. You can read about all the different gates tucked in between these broken down walls (the Fountain Gate, the Horse Gate, and my favorite, the Dung Gate) and the people groups designated to each. It's a pretty fascinating coordination of reparation.

But those details aren't why I'm writing exactly.


The detail that struck me yesterday was the part that said...

"[he] repaired the next section with the help of his daughters."


I have three beautiful daughters. They are each special to me in their own way. I don't have a son, and quite frankly, that doesn't bother me a bit these days because I've learned that little women are powerful in their own right. They possess more strength and passion and grit than I initially anticipated when I started the journey of fathering daughters.

Last night we spent about 45 minutes watching old video footage of their childhood. We laughed at little lisps, broken English, peed pants, smeared lipstick, temper tantrums, sibling quarrels and shotgun giggles. The remembrance of those years stabbed me with joy. It caused me to reflect upon my days with fond satisfaction, particularly the delight of fathering girls. I found myself thanking God (inside my head) that I was given the privilege of leading a family of women, something felt hallowed last night as I sat there with Aly tucked under my arm on the couch.

I guess that's why this little phrase in Nehemiah 3:12 gripped me so. I was transported to this epic project of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem and this father Shallum's brood of beauties standing in solidarity with him along the wall. I imagine them sweating together and pushing each other to finish before nightfall. I picture him toiling side by side with them, stirring mortar...fitting stone...cleaning up debris. In my mind's eye they are laughing at each other, fighting with each other, building up each other.

"the help of his daughters."

I don't think my daughters know how much I need their help. It's easy to act all adult-like tackling tasks like a linebacker. I can get it in my head that "they need me" and I have to "come through" for them. But here's the reality: "My daughters have saved my life." If I'm being honest they have saved me way more times than I have saved them. But they don't know this. How could they?

My daughters help me stay motivated. They help me stay focused on the right things. They help me to see the joy in the journey. They make me laugh along the wall when I'm prone to obsess over "the all-important project". They play in the mud and mortar while I'm trying to stir it to keep it moist. They build sandcastles while building the wall. They put their shoulder to the task without making it the end-all of life. They help me more than they know.

I wouldn't be able to "rebuild the wall" without them. I don't so much need their help to carry the bricks; I need their help to carry my heart. I need to see the levity of their faces in the gravity of the moment. I need their hug at the end of the day. I need to tell them stories to remind myself of the point of my story.

It must be said that I'm building the wall with the help of my daughters.

If I had more time, I would go on and on about the "help of my wife". That's a whole other subplot in the story. But time today doesn't allow me to innumerate the stories of her saving grace. She is a savior and my need for her is greater than ever.

I am blessed.

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