Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cultivating Confidence-Emily's story

My daughter, Ava, is four years old. She is a beautiful child, and was born with the best possible combination of genetics. She has dark hair, blue eyes, and her daddy’s long legs. Ava is like most little girls and loves to watch princess movies. Cinderella, Snow White, Ariel, we’ve got them all. Second only to princess movies is her love for her own reflection in the mirror. I fix her hair every morning while she smiles at herself, and it’s one of my favorite times of day. A few months ago, I caught her standing on a stepstool in her room, frowning at her reflection and twirling her hair. When I asked her what was wrong, she told me she wished she had yellow hair like Rapunzel.

Becoming a parent is a profound experience, and there are so many aspects to raising a child that I feel completely unprepared for. This was one of those times, and I quickly reassured her she was beautiful just the way God made her. Still, the comment bothered me for the rest of the day. The thought that a sweet four-year-old is looking at herself in the mirror critically, and thinking that she doesn’t add up to some cartoon breaks my heart.

I started thinking back to when I was growing up, and about how much energy I wasted worrying about looking like someone else. Wanting to ditch my thick glasses to have perfect vision like this friend, or straight teeth like that friend, or long hair like another girl. Waking up at 5:30am to fix my hair just so, or put on eye make-up exactly like the picture in the magazine. Worried about what this person or that person might think of my new clothes.

I was brought up in a church home and have known about Jesus my entire life, but it was only after forming a personal relationship with Him in high school that I discovered true happiness. I began to spend more time in my Bible and less time in the mirror, and I realized I did need a makeover: a makeover for my soul. True peace comes only from Him, not from approval from anyone else. If we waste our time chasing a cartoon view of beauty, we’ll never achieve that and we’ll end up empty.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I still wear sparkly eye shadow, paint my nails, and layer on the highlights. You will rarely find me without big earrings in, and I won’t even walk to my mailbox without a coat of mascara on. But now I do those things now because they are fun to me, not because they make anyone else happy. 1 Samuel 16 says, “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

I still get out of balance some days, and I can spend too much time worried about how I look. I compare myself to someone else and wonder how I could change to attain some silly, unrealistic level of perfection. But I’ve noticed that when that happens, I’m focusing way too much on me. How I look, what other people think of me, who I can impress. When I spend time focusing on Him, and time working on making my heart reflect Him and His love for me, everything else falls into place. And that’s the message I should be passing on to my daughter.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful message from a Beautiful Lady inside and out!!!!!! So proud of you Emily!