To My High-Spirited Daughter This Epiphany

This isn’t the way the world’s supposed to be. You feel that. It’s Epiphany but you’re still saying “Maranatha” like it’s Advent. You want Jesus to come back and make things right. Make math as easy to perceive as your classmates do. Make your body able to control your emotions.

Epiphany for you is a return to school after winter break. A return to being provoked by kids who see enraging you as their entertainment. A return to the loss of success you feel with math on your tablet versus the craziness of counting up multiplication arrays.

In Epiphany, we read the stories of Jesus. Some you tell me, as when Jesus removed a demon, are plain “weird.” You and your sister ponder if the demon jumped out of the man’s head like Athena from Zeus. When I ask you what you heard from the story, I wait for what you say what you like, wonder about, or what stood out to you. Sometimes, I can’t help but to comment too.

In Luke 4, Jesus pays a visit to Simon’s house, but his mother-in-law is shaking with a high fever. Jesus’s response was to “rebuke” the fever. He scolded the fever, and “it left her.” I tell you if he needed to scold a fever,

the world isn’t the way it’s supposed to be.

When we read of the man lowered through the roof,  I tell you that Jesus cares about our whole person. Jesus forgives his sin and then later heals him. You may not know it, but you’re hungry for that. You’re tired of always being the one in trouble, the one who’s accused of sin. But besides forgiveness of sins,

you need to know how much Jesus loves your body, including your brain which he wired.

He designed you, despite that when you get mad, it’s hard not to let your hands and feet fly out.

Abundance is a word you asked about the other day. Your daddy or I must have said it after I read about the catch of fish that Simon Peter and other disciples were amazed by. The world feels scarce right now as you inform me before bed. Not your words, but the same meaning. I’m curled up with you, my hair flattening underneath your cover—the quilt you picked for Christmas with the sophisticated blue and white pattern that belies your young years.

There is an abundance for you. I can taste it. I hear it in your language that so strikingly articulates your emotions. God has given you words. You call homework a “1000-foot wall,” you tell me that you feel like “a truck with a wheel that’s gone wonky” or that life is so hard that you’re “carrying a gigantic, heavy backpack.”

God’s given you a symbol—the tiger. Powerful and bright, like you. Your daddy picked out a stuffy tiger for your first eye surgery, and it’s a metaphor you often push into. You love your tiger shirt and tiger pillow, and the other day you painted a tiger with such details, narrowed eyes and muscular jowl, that I thought your sister two years older had done it.

Jesus has given us a team, a village in the journey of working with your challenges. I had watched my mother deal with similar obstacles with my brothers and assumed that we would be alone. But we are not. We have experts who root you on. And we have a church community, who after an incident in Sunday school, surround me with hugs or text me for coffee.

You’re going to be a strong woman

I keep saying to you. I know that doesn’t fix this moment. You ask when life, especially school, will change, and I keep telling you, maybe not right now, but it will get better. It’s true the world isn’t the way it’s supposed to be, but girl, with the flame of gold God’s put in you, it’s gotta get better.


Heather Walker Peterson

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