When Sugarplums Fly…to Mumbai

When Sugarplums Fly…to Mumbai
By Ruth Ellen Johnson
It’s hard to let go of things: your to-do list, your checkbook, your past, your youth. But for a parent, it’s gut-wrenching to let go of your kids. And yet we must. From the day they are born, we should be making our job obsolete. Not in loving them but in releasing them. We must start their engines, let them rev then take-off. And crash. And repair. And taxi. Again and again, till one day….they soar.
Our three girls were very different. The older two took off, made their own lives, but close to our home in Southern California. Parents like that. But our youngest was different. From her first ballet class, to national competitions, to stints in ballet companies across the US, she was born with wings. Pink fairy wings and laced-up pointe shoes. As normal Christian parents, we struggled with ‘white-knuckle’ syndrome but as she overcame her own fears, we were forced to loosen our grip to the streets of Boston, the skyline of NYC and the wiles of Cincinnati. It was tough. Bad things happened and we were thousands of miles away. She developed a rare physical condition which often meant emergency stays in the hospital. But our ballerina learned to cope and relevéd to a new day; a new strength that she never would have developed had we grabbed our net and pulled her back. She learned to rely on the Lord for herself. How could we interfere with that? After all, He loves her far more than we do. Oh, I hear your heads shaking but you know it’s true. So we got comfortable. After all, she was only a 5 hour plane ride away.
Then….we got the call. “God’s calling me to India. I’m going to Mumbai to work with girls rescued from sex trafficking.” In my head, it sounded like 8-year-old Annie Banks in Father of the Bride telling Steve Martin that she’d met a man and was getting married. But that was in lovely San Marino, CA. Our baby said, “Mumbai.”
I was silent. Couldn’t speak. Mumbai? Really Lord? It’s dangerous, and filthy, and, and…. I’m a shameless ‘Abraham begging for Lot’ when it comes to my girls. Then I remembered my ace in the hole. Lord, what about her condition? No hospital in India’s going to understand it. He was silent. I guess the Lord gave me a dose of my own medicine. But I finally got an answer. It was her letter for prayer and financial support. As I read and wept, her depth of faith and her boldness to serve washed over me. It strengthened me to watch the video she sent:

I cried my eyes out seeing these young teen girls, robbed of childhood, now experiencing joy and laughter; discovering what it means to play. Suddenly I knew why our girl was going. Through her, they would not only experience the joy of the Lord, they would see her passion for dance in a form of excellence these girls have never seen and may never experience again.
I was silent again…humbled by the Lord’s wisdom beyond my own and at peace with the work He was doing in my own child and these forsaken girls in Mumbai. Will I be concerned for my bunhead’s health and safety? HEL–LO?! Still a mother here. I’ll be on my knees everyday. If the worst happens, she will not be lost for she was found. She knew her life was not her own. The Lord gave her beauty, grace and strength to share the amazing gifts He bestowed on her to give other girls hope – in a life and in a Lord – beyond the dark world from which they’d come. She overcame fear to fly. My hands must no longer grip but rise. Praises to our God and King.
1 Chronicles 4:10 “….Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory!”