Play Ball!

A few days ago, one of my 5-year-old daughters declared a boy in her pre-school class had asked her to marry him. My wife cautioned her that, perhaps when she was older, she could make the decision to marry him.

“Like when I am 6?” she replied.

Weddings are in right now at my house. In fact, it took a considerable effort to write this morning. Gifts cluttered my desk to the point where I had nowhere to set my computer. I could not see through the jungle of presents. It took ten minutes to transfer the clutter to the guest bed beside me. Now wedding gifts adorn it.

High-end bridal registry items, mind you: There is a Mr. Potato Head with some parts missing. A collection of crayons in a pink case sits next to a purple dog. There are beads and colorful string to make necklaces. The list goes on: Yellow foam for molding, stickers, a Dora the Explorer bag, a teddy bear.

You see, there was a wedding banquet at my house last night. My daughters decided they wanted to play ball. Before last night, “play ball” carried a completely different connotation. I had always dreamed of kids who wanted to play ball. Yesterday, though, my baseball glove sat dormant in my closet. Instead of “play ball” as the umpire shouts, my girls wanted to play “ball.”

“You are getting married,” the girls informed me.

So they told my wife and I to dress up. It was roughly 114 degrees in our house last night. I arrived for a beach wedding. They took one look at my attire and frowned. I could hear the Fairy Godmother’s voice in my head, “You can’t go to the ball looking like that!” They nixed my shorts in favor of jeans. Is anything hotter than jeans during the summer? My Dry-Fit athletic shirt was dismissed for a business shirt. My flip-flops were canned. They forced socks and shoes on my sweaty feet and sent me upstairs.

By now the thermostat must have surpassed 200 degrees. In case you forgot your elementary school science, warm air rises. It now made sense to me.

My wife and I arrived at the wedding ball to see over 25 gifts wrapped and tagged with “Mom” and “Dad.” It took considerable balance to walk through the minefield of presents. We soon learned that the remaining space in the room served as the dance floor.

So we danced.

To my daughters, this was a wedding. Their eyes dazzled. I heard the magic in their voices. They gasped each time we unwrapped our gifts. It was the beauty of nuptials with the anticipation of Christmas morning.

I had a front row seat to the heart of a little girl.

Dancing. Beauty. Innocence. Sparkles.

For me, this wedding was a mere interruption from the ballgame I watched and the impending chore of asking my girls to brush their teeth, use the bathroom, change into pajamas, get into bed, and then asking them ten more times to stay in their beds.

But for them, this night was real. It was the wedding they are already dreaming about. It was practice. They knew the most beautiful flower would wilt in comparison to the way they radiated. A larger love story played out before them.

A brief timeout here for the guys: Gentlemen, this little girl resides within your fiancée or wife’s heart. She likely started wedding preparations 20-30 years before you. If you have not seen her yet, dial up the search and rescue team within yourself. Your mission will be to find this girl. She needs to be rescued and healed because life has been less than a fairy tale since girlhood.

As I gazed into my daughters’ smiles, part of my heart sank. While this was not their real wedding, a sense of innocence was more present today than it will be when their day finally comes.

While my girls are not perfect, their world feels to them far more put together than it will the day they marry. The world has not yet had the full chance to steal their innocence. Like all of us, each of my daughters will, if they wed, choose a husband out of their own brokenness. They will be so foolish to believe their spouse can heal their deepest shame. Their husbands will be incapable to answer the deepest questions in their soul, the same questions that arose last night.

Who am I? Am I beautiful? Does my life have meaning? Am I sufficient to make myself happy?

I love my daughters dearly. And I am powerless to completely seal off their soul from the thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy the life of their heart. Despite my attempts to guard their heart, they will hear a resounding “no” to each of those questions. As Jan Meyers Proett points out, “Evil always brings an interpretation to us—a way of making sense of the world when no one is helping us make sense of it.”

Sadly my girls will not be solely victims in an unsafe world. Their fear and need to control will build inward fortresses to protect their wounded selves. And while they may look like Cinderella in the mirror, their hearts will act more like wicked stepsisters a good portion of the time. The universal ripple effect of the Fall continues in their depraved hearts. They will sow the same relational destruction that has and will harm them.

On the day one of my daughters walks down the aisle, she will know the ache of broken relationship. If I raise her well, she will know her husband-to-be will fail miserably at making her dreams come true. She will know to look elsewhere for reprieve from the deep cry of her heart.

At some level, the joy with which she prepared for our ball last night will dissipate into skepticism, as if to walk through Disney World and know Mickey Mouse is actually powered by a man drenched in sweat who counts the minutes until his next cigarette.

And yet, if I raise them well, my daughters will know they are loved by the God who has gone to find and return their lost slippers.

And prayerfully as they come to know the God who planted deep in their feminine heart the desire to play “ball,” a new hope will arise. Can I trust this God? Is it worth the risk? Can He answer the deep questions of my soul better than evil has?

Sidenote: One of the greatest gifts a wife can offer her husband is to look to God rather than him for life and answers (And it goes both ways, guys). While it is easier to look to our spouse for fulfillment, it is an empty pursuit.

To entrust God with our deepest, passionate selves feels risky. A God who plants desires but who does not promise fulfillment can feel like a cruel Author. And despite what friends and church might say, sometimes God feels this way. Our unmet desires tempt us to question redemption as He defines it.

Sharon Hersh proposes an alternate interpretation, “Redemption does not mean that God meets our needs and then our souls stop longing. No, redemption does not eradicate desperation. Instead, redemption allows us to surrender.”

Surrender feels like death. Like defeat. And it is. It is the termination of life on your terms. Surrender becomes a crucible, a first step toward the unveiling of your unprotected, unfettered feminine heart.

So to my daughters in your Cinderella silk and sparkle gowns: His love is worth the risk. The story He offers is always beauty from ashes. He longs to heal your inner wicked-step sister. Surrender your story. His slipper for you fits.

Whether you decide to marry or not one day (not when you are 6), look and wait for the Lover who first gave you the desire to play “ball.”

Photo Copyright: tonobalaguer / 123RF Stock Photo


Luke Brasel writes about relationships, intimacy, parenting, and Christian spirituality. He is passionate about the intersection of theology and the human heart. He has a counseling practice in Nashville, TN where he helps people follow their pain to understand their story and recover their heart. When he is not counseling, teaching, or writing, he is learning more about life and love from his wife and twin daughters. You can read his blog at and follow him on Twitter.

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