When I was first pregnant, my local baby store gave out magnets that read: “Making the decision to have a child is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ”
Any parent knows this truth. Among the many challenges and blessings of parenthood, there is also a two-edged relief to it in that Life is never really going to be about you anymore. Thank God! Whatever my worries were, who had time if now there was a temperature rising or a vaccine debate or teeth that just wouldn’t break through or a suspicious rash?
I myself have two kids, and I am almost at the end of divorcing their father. It sucks for me, but my heart truly breaks for the two youngest family members who have no choice, no control, and no vote. I do not come from a divorced home so when my 12 year old daughter, Sarah Jane, throws at me, “You have no idea what I’m going through!” She’s right. I don’t.
There are many things I wish I could change for my kids, but I can’t. There are many things I would like to provide for my kids, but I can’t. And then, out of the blue, just when it all seems completely bleak, something miraculous happens.
One of my daughter’s oldest friends invited her to Taylor Swift’s concert in LA. Amazing! I, Sarah Jane, this same friend and her mom had all gone together two years ago, but this year there was no possibility of me affording it again. And now, she’d been invited!
There was huge excitement in the couple of weeks leading up to going. And then there was the making of the poster. And then there was the choosing of the outfit.
SJ came up with the idea for her outfit from Taylor’s Shake It Off video. Fortuitously we had the skirt and a top that would work, so I could sew a bit of ribbon on.
What blew me away was that Sarah Jane then made a template of Taylor’s crest and cut it out on sticky backed felt in blue and yellow to match.
For non-Swifties, let me fill you in on how these concerts go. At Taylor’s concerts on her current 1989 tour, there is something called Loft 89. This is where an extremely select group of fans get the opportunity to meet Taylor after the concert. All girls dream of this (I can totally see why thinking back to my 12 year old self). So as well as being super excited about the concert, there was also discussion as to whether there was any chance they would get picked for this rarefied treat.
Of course the odds are ridiculous and (in true mom form) both of us mothers encouraged the girls to focus on the gift of attending the concert LIVE and not to worry about any of that other stuff.
Off they went looking absolutely fantastic and bursting to the seams with excitement.
Meantime, I settled down at home with my 9 year old son to watch a movie that his sister would never vote on: Robocop. We were set for the night and absolutely thrilled to think of our girl rocking it out down at the Staples Center with her favourite pop star.
Then at 9.29 pm I got a text from my friend saying her husband had just texted to say Taylor’s Mom was taking the girls down to the front.
WHAT?? Was he joking? Surely not. And indeed not! As we were to discover, Taylor’s mom had come up behind Sarah Jane (as she was jumping up and down in her cheerleader outfit waving her sparkly lit sign) and tapped her on the shoulder. Sarah Jane turned to her sweet face to hear the words, “Would you like to come and sit with me?”
There are 15,000 people in the Staples Center, and Mrs Swift picked Sarah Jane. There are simply no odds for that.
The girls squealed and, along with their paternal chaperone, made their way down to the very front of the stage where they were just 20 feet from the action. TWENTY FEET. And they had stools to stand on and bottles of water aplenty.
They had the time of their lives. They have a memory they will tell their grandkids (who won’t even know who Taylor Swift is) and they will never forget how – out of all those people – they caught Mrs Swift’s eye and they were invited down to the special invitation-only pit at the end of the runway to dance and sing and scream all night.
I could never ever ever have organized that. When I read the text, I burst into tears of incredulity. What struck me most was how piercingly tender it was of the Lord to bless my little girl with such a treat. Like he was saying to me, “Look at this, Josie. I got this!” It mattered so much more to me that it happened for SJ than if something amazing had happened for me. That’s your parent heart again.
There had been no likelihood whatsoever of them being chosen! I sobbed with gratitude (as one does). All those little girls look amazing, and yet there was my little girl who has had a tough time over the last three years being blessed with something of such ultimate worth to her, and so far beyond her wildest dreams. And we had even been blessed with the ticket so it had all been entirely out of my hands.
It was a humbling and joyous moment for all of us. Ecstatic in fact. SJ came home on a complete high the following morning with eyes shining, brandishing her BACKSTAGE wristband. It has been hard to pull any of us down ever since.
Then, as my pal the other mom was dropping Sarah Jane off and we were marveling at it all, she pointed something out that I had missed. How the girls’ evening was really an exact reflection of the Gospel.
The insight took my breath away. There our girls were in a throng of thousands, apparently “anonymous” and someone came to them and said, “I know Taylor personally, and I can get you to her. Do you want to come with me?”
Except in the Gospel the story goes even further than that. Our girls had the night of their young lives but didn’t actually get to meet Taylor because that was a different wristband. But we do. In the Gospel, there’s only one invitation, one wristband. We get to answer that tap on our shoulder and go right down to the front and be introduced to the person who’s up there. Not only that, we come into relationship with them and get to live with them forever. That is quite an invitation.
What a night it was for us last Monday night. A Taylor-Made Invitation for my girl and her pal to move up to a front row seat and enjoy the show. (Thank you, Mrs Swift).
And what a day for any of us, any day. A Tailor-Made Invitation for all of us to turn and just say yes, and go forward.