Tuesday, September 30, 2014


This morning, amid the usual morning struggle to get dressed, get the kids dressed, fed, lunches packed, and out, I heard the pocket door rattle open as I got out my makeup kit.

There she stood, the most amazing little person imaginable.  Her sleep bun dripping fuzzy down her back, wallowed to a golden-brown frizzy twist, she gazed at me from her heart-covered gown and said something I longed to hear for a long time.

I don't think I knew I longed for it.  I don't recall completing that thought in my head.  But as far back as I can remember, it's just not a word those closer to me have used to describe me.  Smart, maybe... but not likely.  Nice, sure.  But seldom and from few did I hear that word.  Not really until my husband came around, and even he doesn't use the term that often, though I know he thinks I am.

She called me something that seems to anger some.  That maybe if that's what you call me, it's all that I am.  That it's degrading to a point.  I'd have to agree that I want to be thought of as more than that... don't we all?  I'm pretty protective of my career and my ability therein, that's for sure.

When she called me what she did, the seven year old being put on the scale as soon as she arrived at her father's house for a six-monthly visit wanted to cry.  The one hearing that everyone would call her two-ton-tillie if she didn't lay off the candy...

...that if I'd let her do so-and-so to my face and my hair or lose fifteen pounds or try this new color of hair or this new cut or if I'd just TRY...

... the one who walked in just in time to hear the stepmother's friend comment, then hear "we just wish she'd lose the weight"...

... the one who sat crying in the department store dressing room as she listened to her father apologize for her figure to the lady helping her try on dresses...

...the one who endured the family jokes about how enormous her posterior was...

...that little girl, that awkward high school girl, that still-awkward college girl... the graduate who listened to the jokes about "putting an ad in the paper for a husband"...

... she's a mom now.

She has a little girl.

Parts of that scare her to death.

So when so many people come out with the "don't tell girls they're pretty" argument, part of me shrivels further into the corner.  Taking this without a healthy grain of salt is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

No, do not tell your daughter that all her worth lies in her beauty.  But don't refuse to compliment her, either.

We want our children to find their worth in something much larger.  Something much deeper-seeded than a photo, makeup technique, hair styling, dress size... or in making first chair, winning the game, getting the scholarship, making the team, making all-state, or a test score.  They are not any of those things.

They are good enough because they are ours.

They are good enough for the same reason we are... they are covered by the love, grace, and mercy of Christ... and they are amazing.

They mess up.  They make messes.  They break things.  They annoy the heck out of us at times.  But they are ours, and they are loved.  There is nothing they lack that will make us say, "if you would... then you'd be enough."

Knowing I couldn't compete in the area of looks, I went for being good.  My grades were pretty marginal, athletics were abysmal.  Band, on the other hand... I could totally do.  In my mind, if I made the all-state band, I'd finally be okay.  I'd be worth it.  It didn't happen.  It took several tries over almost twenty years to get it into my head that none of that will make me okay.  Still trying to get it, actually.

So please, please, please... don't buy too into that "don't tell girls they're pretty" thing.  Or into the other end.  Join me in trying to find a way to encourage them to be all they can be without placing too much worth one place or the other.  It's much more than telling girls they're pretty or smart.  It's about a love that can't be shaken by a trip into the principal's office or a lost game or a bad grade.  If they're smart, tell them that.  If they've done a great job, tell them that.  If they're handsome or pretty, tell them that.  But also tell them something positive when they haven't.  Or when they aren't.  Remind them that you mess up too.

What nearly brought me to tears this morning?

She said, "Mommy, you're beautiful."  And she was serious.

Thanks be to God for making me enough... and for the ways I'm still realizing he's what makes me enough.

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