Watching daughter’s reflection in the mirror this morning, thinking how grown up she looks as she stands next to me, a proclamation was made, “I wish I was blonde.” My heart sank as the voice of envy and insecurity comes out of the mouth of my precious, beautiful girl.
And so for daughter the battle begins at the age of seven. The battle we all face about our appearance, our bodies, the things we don’t like about ourselves, the fight against envy and insecurity. It is the war of negativity, the whispers of the enemy and our roots struggling to take hold in the rich soil of our Father and not the wasteland of self loathing and the enemy .
I don’t remember when it began for me but I know it was young, maybe even before daughter. I never felt like the pretty one. I was short. My hair was thin and mousey. I was always a little pudgy. All the critical passages of womanhood came late for me. The boys paid no attention, or at least ones I wanted to look my way. I let my list of inadequacies begin to define me.
To make matters worse, my parents called me Barbie lending to the kids’ incessant teasing… “Hi Barbie, where’s Ken?” or “Barbie-big-butt”. The worst was one of the neighborhood mom’s calling me “Boobie”, which was ridiculous since there was nothing happening in that front. To my mother’s objection she merely responded it was all in love, leaving the nickname intact.
One of my friends was, and still is, extremely beautiful. She had it all, the hair, the body, the attention. Oh how I wanted to look like her. If only I looked like that I would feel good about myself and the boys would be interested in me too. I had been cheated! Envy and self-loathing had taken hold.
I began my journey of beautification by sneaking poorly applied makeup, getting my hair permed (that was the style way back when), painting my nails a ridiculous number of times in a week, shedding layers such that my outfit would be “sexy” out of my parent’s sight. Somewhere in my adolescent and deluded mind I decided that running around looking trampy would make me beautiful and bring me the attention I so desired.
I had a brief respite in high school when I joined the church group and gave my life to the Lord but in a series of unfortunate events and roots that were not deep enough I walked away from church, a story for another day. I walked away feeling betrayed, wounded and even more insecure. I picked up right where I left off, pursuing masochistic behavior.
As I got older, I did manage to figure out the makeup thing, dumped the perm and purchased my own provocative clothes and continued to seek that illusive attention to fill the pit left by the stronghold of envy and self-loathing. It led me down a destructive path, especially with men. I was in bondage, taken captive by lies of the flesh and consumed by sin.
I have prayed against this repeating itself in the lives of our kids. I have also prayed that the Spirit would provide me with the words, the tone, and the eloquence to speak life and beauty into them.
Hearing daughter’s words this morning brought me to that moment of truth, that moment that I had been praying about. I started to tell her what my mother told me, that she is beautiful the way she is and she shouldn’t feel that way, which is true, but we all know how well that worked for me.
The truth is the “shouldn’ts” in life often lead to shame and keep us trapped in a place we “shouldn’t” be.
Instead, God brought me to His word and daughter and I read together the verses which I had just read the day before, not a coincidence I assure you.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:13-16
We discussed that God made her exactly the way she is and he did it thoughtfully and lovingly. I asked her if God makes mistakes with which she replied, “No.” The Spirit was upon me and I was able to speak God’s truth in love as I explained to her that to enter into the “I wish I looked like that” mindset was to essentially say God’s creation wasn’t perfect, that He made a mistake.
Her eyes widened, she smiled and said she liked her hair after all and wished she could “kiss God”. I told her prayers of thanksgiving that she is fearfully and wonderfully made by our God is the best kiss she could give.
Does this close the chapter on “I want to look like that!” or “I wish I had that!”? I am certain it does not. But, the lie of envy and self-loathing that the enemy put before her today was countermanded with God’s truth and that is a seed I intend to nurture, pray over and watch God do his work!
As she headed off to spend the day with Grammie, I was able to acknowledge that mom did the best she could without knowing the Lord personally during my childhood. I fell to my knees in thanksgiving that God has brought me salvation and that I am able to share the Gospel and His love with daughter. I was also able to reaffirm that I too am fearfully and wonderfully made, in all my imperfections and so are you!