The boys headed off to their last summer ball game and the girls and I were left with an afternoon to ourselves. “Girls, let’s hit the beach.” and they ran off to bedrooms with their best girly shrills for swimsuits. We packed light as we just wanted a few hours with our feet in the sand. We found our favorite spot and staked our beach chairs in the sand. The water seemed a bit to rough for my liking so I told the girls to stay shallow.
I pulled out a book as I watched my red heads run to the shore. They had brought their favorite beach tube along. I was to far off shore to hear what they were saying but I watched my girl hold the tube while her baby sister situated herself butt down into the tube. Her legs fell over the side of the tube between the handles and I wondered “when did her legs get so long”. Her little 5 year old self grabbed the handles threw her head back and her sister began to spin the float. I still couldn’t hear them but I watched her giggle with each spin, and then a wave would knock them off their rhythm. Katy Reid would grab a handle again and give the tube another good spin. Again, Parker Jane’s head would fall back and you could once again see her face break out with giggling expression. I wondered about the gifts of my oldest child. She seemed so intuitive to the needs of others, younger children, kids her age, adults, and much older generations. It seemed as though she had a special gift of relating to others no matter the age. Today was no different. I hadn’t asked her to put her sister on the float, I hadn’t even asked her to play with her, I just changed the scenery. But, the intuition in her led her to grab a beach tube, invite her sister for a ride, and give her a few spins of joy. I was mesmerized by what God created in my own child. I was seeing her true beauty, beauty that has no measuring stick. Beauty that isn’t measured by comparing people side by side, but in looking deep into a person’s uniqueness. The way God intricately, fearfully, and wonderfully makes each of us.
The morning hadn’t brought the same joy that the afternoon had. “Mom, he told me I was ugly.” Crack. Break. Split. My momma heart tried to recover as I started asking questions to investigate what had happened. Typical sibling rivalry. A daughter made to lead, and a strong willed son who doesn’t want to be bossed. Innocence in each child for trying to learn how to live together but hurtful words still. We had to have a long conversation about the power of words and actions. I knew he didn’t mean it, it was his way of guarding himself against his sister telling him what to do but I still ached that he had used such hurtful words to stand his ground.
She ran up the sand, her little sister chasing fast behind her. The sun was bright and she grabbed her ‘mint’ colored sunglasses. I laughed inside remembering earlier when she bought them, “Mom, these are mint not aqua” with her best eye roll. We are currently seesawing in those wonderful years when some days your daughter thinks you hung the moon and the next day you name the color mint “aqua”. Gasp!
She plopped down in the beach chair adjacent from mine as she donned her mint glasses. Her sister off to the side playing in a dug out hole in the sand filled with water, “Look mom, this beach has a bathroom.” Katy Reid and I giggled at her sister’s witty personality. Again, real beauty in another very unique child of mine. Compare her wit to another witty child and it fades, but embrace wonderful uniqueness in that red head and her charming wit shines like the sun.
I grabbed my big girl’s hand and squeezed it. She squeezed it back as I started the conversation I knew we needed to have. “Katy Reid, I just watched you spin your sister on that float. And I watched you hang out with the girls in the neighborhood last night. I noticed how helpful you were when you made the coffee this morning while me and daddy did our workout. I saw how eager you were to get your chores finished this week even when I was distracted and frustrated.” She looked at me funny wondering where this was going. “I know what your brother said to you this morning. It’s not true. Even though Max didn’t mean it, I want to address his words. One day you might look in the mirror and wonder if what he said is true. It might be tomorrow, or it might be when your 16 but I want you to always remember what I am about to tell you. The enemy is real and he comes to steal, kill, and destroy. If he can convince you that Max’s words are true then he can freeze you, he can convince you that you aren’t worthy, that you are lacking, and that you aren’t beautiful. There is no bigger lie, you are beautiful and I am not talking about the ways the world says you are beautiful.”
A word hidden in my heart:
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7
And my mouth spilled open,
“You are beautiful. Daddy says your heart is bigger than the ocean. You help everyone you meet. You nurture every small child you play with. Your smile radiates joy. You are patient with your momma every time I lose it, and that happens more often than not. You are kind to waitresses and the mailman. You are quick to forgive and you are an asset to our family. All this makes you one of the most beautiful people I ever met. And God gave you to me.”
My eyes filled with tears and I had to swallow a couple of times to continue.
“God looks at our heart. So don’t bank on what you look like on the outside, bank on what God continues to do in your heart. You are so beautiful my sweet girl. And if you look in the mirror and hear what Max says again, I want you to remember what I told you today. You tell the devil that he is not right and that God is doing a good work in you. That devil has to flee when you say that.”
And then I reminded her of the verse that we cling to in our household. “But, God looks at the heart…”
I thought about my life as a little girl, a teenager, a young woman, and now a mom with more responsibility that I can bear sometimes.
I thought about the magazine covers. Outward beauty.
The clothes stores at the mall. Outward beauty.
The TV ads. Outward beauty.
All the ways that try to convince me that I am measured by the height of my cheekbones, my waist measurement, and my skin tone. Lies.
In all the NOISE of beauty and the lies that she will hear every single day, I needed her to here the truth from her momma. And now I fervently pray that when she looks in the mirror, she will hear the voice of her momma not a lie from the world.