Our daughter Abigail, age 14, ran for president of her class last year and lost by one vote. She took it in stride, but I encouraged her by telling her that she had something in common with former US presidential hopeful Al Gore, except that he actually accumulated more votes than his opponent. For readers who are not from the US, that would take a paragraph in itself to explain and even then, I am not sure that I could explain it. I reminded her that former President Abraham Lincoln ran for office and lost many times before being elected US President, but then he went on to become one of the most honored of all presidents because of his character, wisdom, leadership and perseverance during one of the most trying times in US history. Finally I threw in a favorite quote from Churchill: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”
So she was inspired. This year she announced that she would run for vice president. I asked her why she chose to run for that office, to which she replied that she did not want to run for president against Ee Ern, a Malay student, because it would be like running against God. Besides being a stellar student, he memorized entire excerpts from “The Lord of the Rings” for his previous speech. So she ran for vice president and won. Abigail is a people person. But not only that, she is a purposeful people person, meaning that she wants to make a difference in the lives of others. She also enjoys any and every (well, maybe not every) opportunity to give spontaneous speeches. So I am happy for her.
Rebecca, age 11, is our other daughter. Her 5th grade class at Faith Academy in the Philippines is run like a country, so she also decided to run for office. She ran for librarian and gave an enthusiastic, heart-felt speech on how much she wanted to be class librarian and organize a check-out system for books. A classmate gave her speech, saying that she wasn’t really interested in being the librarian, but she would appreciate the votes. A boy in the class organized a smear campaign against Rebecca, bribing students not to vote for her. She came home devastated when she lost. I tried to encourage her with the Abraham Lincoln example, and when that wasn’t very effective, with sweets. Still, during the holidays she dreaded returning to school.
But she greeted me with a smile after the first day back to school. It turned out that the president asked Rebecca to be her assistant. A classmate told her that meant she was secretary of state. She was thrilled. We went shopping for matching clipboards and she has a file on the laptop so she can help the president organize her schedule.
When we are adults, we can look at the trials our children face and see the bigger picture. We believe in them and know that the disappointments they encounter will pass. I believe God looks at us in much the same way, picking us up and encouraging us to move on and see the bigger, brighter picture of His plans for us. And with the enormity of His great love that encompasses us in every place or situation we may be facing. If we consider what really matters in life, it is to delight in walking with God and pleasing Him.