Words matter. The words we say and the words we don’t say.I don’t think I’m beautiful or even pretty most days. Not that I want to be full of myself but it would be nice to have more than just a neutral feeling about the way I look. My skin is a weird combination of oily and dry. It’s sensitive to almost everything so there’s almost always an issue. I’m a picker when I get blemishes. And, on top of all of that, I easily scar. This is a great combination for my face. Seriously, just great- she said sarcastically.
Growing up, my mom used to do this thing where she would highlight what she thought were our (my brother and sisters’) best qualities and she would tell us what careers we would excel in. I think my mom just wanted us to have options. I don’t really know.
My older sister was beautiful, in my mom’s words. She was good at doing creative things with hair, etc. My mom never talked about my sister’s intelligence but praised her for her natural knack for all things beauty related. My sister would grow up to be a hairdresser. But, more than that, my older sister became a cosmetologist- like, the best cosmetologist. I can’t help but wonder which career path my older sister would have taken if my mom also told her that she was intelligent? Maybe she would still choose to become a cosmetologist or maybe she would have chosen a different path.
Me, I was smart and I loved to argue and I always, always needed to be right- some things haven’t changed. My mom said that I should be a lawyer…or a hand model. Not a model, a hand model. I didn’t think it mattered much but I always seemed to know I wanted to go to college. What was I going to study? Well, I wanted to be a lawyer, of course! So, I declared my pre-law major and began the track to becoming a lawyer. Except the pre-law classes were so freaking boring. Like, I had no interest in political affiliations or any of that- I still don’t. So, I quit. I thought to myself, “What’s the point of being in college if I don’t know what I want to study?”
During my “time off” from college, I realized that I wanted to become a teacher. It took me some time to get situated enough to go back to college but at least I knew what I wanted to do. My mom always told me how smart I was but she never told me that I was beautiful or even pretty. Never. Not that I can remember. Neither did my dad. Maybe they thought I already knew I was pretty and, therefore, didn’t want me to become too cocky and self absorbed. (You know like when you see a baby who isn’t cute but you feel obligated to say something? Most people say, “oh, that’s such a beautiful baby!” Even though the baby’s butt ugly. Me, I say, “that’s a BABY!” Because I don’t want to lie and say that baby’s cute when he or she isn’t. And, honestly, most babies ARE NOT cute. Especially when they’re brand new.) I would like to think that’s the reason but, I can’t help but think that maybe they didn’t think I was pretty. The good thing about me was my brain and they did tell me that.
With my older sister, everyone tells her that she’s beautiful. Everyone. The same thing happens with my little sister. I didn’t realize until recently that I really long for my mom especially to tell me that she thinks I’m beautiful… and I want her to mean it. I realize that I sound jealous. I am. Because even though it doesn’t seem like a big thing, it’s become important to me now that I have my own daughter. I post pictures and my mom comments, “She’s so beautiful!” And, believe me, I agree. I am not jealous about that. But it makes me wonder why my mom never says that about me.
Wes has been trying to convince me that I’m beautiful. He’s made it his mission. “One day, I’m gonna tell you you’re beautiful and you’re gonna believe me,” he says. I do believe him. I truly believe that he thinks I’m beautiful. I don’t doubt his feelings about that. So, when he says, “You’re stunning. Do you believe me?” I answer him honestly, “Yes. I believe you… I believe that you think I’m stunning.” This makes Wes sad. It kinda makes me sad, too.
I spent a lot of my life coming to terms with who I am. The good, the bad, the ugly. I spent a lot of years believing that there was nothing good about me. Not like the biblical way:
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “No one is good except God alone. (Luke 18:19 GNT)
But it was more like in the self-deprecating way. When I met Wes, I was on the path to loving myself and loving who God made me. I was just beginning to get past the point of questioning why God made me the way I am and had begun to embrace all of my “beautiful imperfections.” It’s been a looooong road. I thought I was near the end of that road and then I was blessed with my beautiful, precious baby girl. How can I raise her so that she knows she’s beautiful? So that she knows she’s intelligent? So that she knows she’s loved?
How can I raise her so that she knows she’s beautiful? So that she knows she’s intelligent? So that she knows she’s loved?
I want Laila Grace to know that she is both smart and beautiful. That she’s caring, lovable, sweet, opinionated, strong- oh so strong- and that her mama and daddy love her so much. I want her to be confident in who she is. Who God made her. And how He made her. I want her to feel secure.
The answer to question about how I will instill these TRUTHS within her: I don’t know. Only through and by God’s grace will Laila Grace “feel” these truths. And even when she may not feel them, I want her to know them.