It Isn't Much To Look At
- 2005 13 Feb
I heard a story once about a little girl who was dropped off at a country church one Sunday morning. No older than an elementary student, she came alone and sat through the service and then Sunday School. Hours later, she stood at the church doors and waited for a parent to pick her up. No one came.
Minutes passed as groups of people left the building. The little girl began to peer out a window, nervously watching the road that led up to the church. Before long everyone else was gone, all except the little girl and the church pastor, who had joined her at the main entrance. For a while these two made small talk-the kind of awkward conversation you would expect to take place between a minister and a nervous child. She assured him that she normally got picked up right after church; he told her what his wife was cooking for lunch.
After a while the pastor grew concerned. He began to think the girl's family had forgotten her, and he wondered at what kind of parents would abandon this sweet little child in such a way.
Finally, with no better choices left to him, the pastor offered to take the girl home. She shyly accepted, and they loaded themselves into his car. They drove away from the church and began making their way down country roads. The little girl pointed directions and the pastor followed them easily. They reached their destination in a matter of minutes.
When the pastor turned into the driveway of the girl's home, he couldn't believe what he saw. The place was nothing more than a run-down, beaten up old shack. It had clearly weathered a number of storms, and it didn't look like it would be able to survive many more.
The pastor could not disguise his alarm at the little girl's living conditions-they were horrible. For a few flustered seconds, he was visibly shocked.
Meanwhile, the girl was watching his expressions from her place in the passenger's seat. She noted his reaction and sat quietly as he drove up to the house. Then, just before she got out of the car, she turned to the pastor and spoke.
"Sir," she said, "I know my home isn't much to look at, but my dad makes it a great place to be from."
That story just wrenches at the strings of this father's heart. I find that I'm captivated by the little girl's home, and I'm even more captivated by what she said about it. I wonder what kind of man her dad was. I wonder what sorts of things he did to make their home so beautiful.
If I had to guess, I'd guess that he read stories. I'd guess that he played games and took his daughter fishing, that he told jokes to her and built her dollhouses and laughed with her until both of their faces hurt. I'd guess that he loved being with her, that he made her feel like she was a princess in a fairy tale.
So although this guy's house may have looked like it belonged on Extreme Home Makeover, it seems the place didn't need any renovation at all. It was already everything it needed to be: the perfect home for one little girl to grow up in.
Dan Seaborn is the founder of Winning At Home Inc., a nationally-known organization designed to assist and encourage people of all ages and stages of family development. E-mail your questions or comments about this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.