When I was three years old, I had a huge obsession with Barbie.
I had Barbie dolls, a life-sized Barbie, Barbie pajamas, Barbie books, a Barbie costume… you get the picture. So, naturally, I wanted to have a Barbie-themed birthday party for my fourth birthday.
In addition to Barbies, birthdays have also always been a favorite of mine. I love my birthday, your birthday, the lady down the street’s birthday — it doesn’t matter… I just love birthdays. (See my post about my birthday favorites here.) So, I wanted to have the greatest birthday party any four year old had ever had. And my mom wanted that for me, too.
About a week before my birthday, my mom took my favorite Barbie doll away from me and told me she couldn’t tell me why.
That doll was my favorite thing on the planet. My imaginary friend was even Barbie. (And my imaginary boyfriend was Max from “The Goofy Movie.” I’m sure I need to see a counselor about that one. And yes, I’m aware he is a dog.)
I pitched a fit. I was so mad that she was taking away the one thing that brought me the most joy at that time in my life. I would cry and ask her to give it back and beg her to tell me where Barbie was. She just kept telling me I’d find out soon.
Patience has never been my thing, and it especially wasn’t my thing as an almost-four-year-old. Another thing that’s never been my thing — letting people surprise me. I love surprises so much — surprise parties, gifts, meals, whatever. I throw surprise parties all the time and I love when people actually pull off a surprise for me, but the problem is — I usually find a way to figure the surprise out and totally ruin it. (My mom and husband have gotten me a few times, though, so I’ve gotten better about receiving the surprises and not shaking the gift box to see what’s inside.)
But, I definitely tried to see what was inside this gift box, because I was so heartbroken over being separated from my Barbie doll. But my mom didn’t crack. She wanted so badly to see the look on my face when I got the surprise and understood why she had put me through this Barbie doll-sized heartbreak.
On the day of my birthday party, when it was time for cake, my mom brought out a Barbie doll cake. But it wasn’t just a flat cake with Barbie drawn on it. My mom’s friend who made the cake had placed my Barbie doll in the center and created an icing gown around her. It was the coolest cake I had ever seen and I was the happiest girl on earth. Not only did I have my Barbie back, but she was better than ever because she was a work of art in my very own birthday cake!
During the first few years of my life, my parents were really young and didn’t have a ton of money. Of course, I had no idea because I had everything I ever wanted and needed, but that’s because they went above and beyond to do things like have a custom Barbie cake made for my birthday so that my eyes would light up with wonder. They wanted me to feel like a princess on my birthday.
I still remember blowing the candles out and realizing that that’s why my mama had taken my Barbie doll away, so she could surprise me.
God does that, too, you know? He takes something so special away from us that gives us so much joy and doesn’t tell us why. He doesn’t give us a hint and doesn’t want us to shake the box or ask questions because He wants it to be a surprise. He wants to see the wonder in our eyes when He brings out what he took away wrapped in a custom gown of icing, better than it was before — better than we could have imagined.
We might pitch a fit or cry or continuously ask Him why He took it. We might get angry and sad and confused because it just doesn’t make sense that He wouldn’t want us to have the one thing we cling to the most. And that’s usually because He wants us to trust Him, to cling to Him, and to WAIT for what He has on the other side of the pain.
Me missing my favorite doll for a week is nothing compared to the pain some of you are facing right now — nothing compared to what has been taken from you. But please know that He does have a surprise in store for you. But you may have to wait until the best birthday party you’ve ever had to get it. You may have to wait until the huge party in Heaven to get your custom cake with the one thing you’re missing the most in the center.
And for some of you, He took something away that you needed to be finished with anyway. He’s going to replace that thing with something so much better and so much more in line with HIS plan — not yours.
And then for others, He took something away — a job, a boyfriend, a friendship — so that He can take it and make it better, and make you appreciate it more, before He brings it out for you to blow out the candles.
No matter what your Barbie doll is, let Him take it. He knows what’s best for you and knows what will make your eyes light up. He knows that seeing you upset for just a little while is worth the wonder and excitement that is to come. He wants the best party ever for you. And He won’t settle for just giving you a cake with a Barbie face drawn on it — He goes above and beyond to make you feel like a princess.
Just imagine what kind of extravagant, surprise cake He could give you if only you let go.
I can still feel the smile on my face when I saw my Barbie in the middle of that birthday cake and I desperately want that child-like excitement back. Let’s start doing a better job of receiving surprise gifts from our God instead of trying to figure them out and ruin them, shall we?
Waiting patiently on my surprise,