Wednesday, May 15, 2013

True Beauty

Dear Lily,

The other day I went to buy you new swimsuits. I wandered the section I normally browse. But the swimsuits only went to size 5.

So I crossed over the aisle to the girl’s section.

And baby girl, my heart broke. There along the wall were swimsuits. Every color, every pattern you can imagine. But our old standbys- the Princesses, the Hello Kitty, the pink polka dots…were nowhere to be seen.

You are six now. And apparently the stores believe you are too old for these things. They want you to wear peace signs. And zebra print. And boy shorts with bikini tops.

I looked through racks of suits, all of them smaller than the next. Tiny triangle tops. Strings to tie behind tiny necks. Small bottoms to barely cover anything.

I thought of your neck. The place right at the bottom beneath your hairline where the string would go. I thought of how I hold you on my lap and touch my nose to that very spot. How I smell your shampoo and lotion smell. How I close my eyes and rock you as I do.

I thought about the bottoms. How they cover less than your princess underwear you still love. How you adore picking between Hello Kitty and Rapunzel after your bath.

I stood there and saw our future together. I saw you one day wanting a swimsuit like these- because your friends had it. Because you felt it would get you noticed. Because you were made fun of for your modesty.

And I cried.

You are six. You love My Little Pony. You love your brother and playing veteranarian with him. You love to draw our family, flowers, hearts.

You are innocent. And pure. And so very good.

And that swimsuit I was holding represented the end of some of that.

I put it back and walked away. And as I did I thought of what I wished for you.

I wish you could be this way, this innocent, for much longer than I was.

I wish that you could be yourself, mature at your own pace, without any outside influences.

I want you to grow and mature. I want you to change. But I also want you to remain as you are right now- nearly untainted by others beliefs about you.

See the world will try to make you something different. The world will see the goodness in you and try to corrupt it. Because this world we live in celebrates the exploitation of innocence. This world corrupts. It always has.

I wish that you would love your body enough to keep it a mystery. To leave much to the imagination. To be modest not because I tell you to, but because it honors a deep spiritual place inside of you.

I want you to use your body to accomplish what your spirit needs for nourishment. I want you to dance, to express yourself, to write and read and kneel to your savior.

I want you to love yourself enough to not care what anybody else says about you. I want you to love yourself to only care what God believes about you.

And what He believes is this, baby girl:

You are an amazing creation.

You are beautiful.

You are treasured.

You are pure and good.

You are more than just a pretty face or a body- you are a soul. And long before you belonged to me, you belonged to Him.

I wish that you would know always that what you look like is secondary to what you do. Beauty is created more than birthed. You create beauty with actions and deeds. You create it with your ability to love and give.

True beauty is looking at somebody and seeing their Savior. And you have this, my dear sweet love. I look at you and see Jesus in your actions.

I want this to remain a truth about you. I want the world to not harden your heart or change the way you feel about your worth.

I want to freeze time.

But I can’t.

So what I can do, baby, is tell you what I will always give you.

I will be your ear when you need to talk about how you feel about yourself.

I will give you space to change and grow.

I will love you, in any size, in any way your body changes.

I will help you to be healthy. I will nourish your body with good food, and your mind with prayer.

I will tell you a thousand times a day that you are beautiful.

I WILL TELL YOU UNTIL YOU BELIEVE ME. Over and over. And then again.

You do not need anything to enhance your beauty- it is there in ever word and every gesture you make. In every smile and ever compassionate thought. THAT is beauty. Your perfect face and healthy body are just the outside of your perfect soul.

So if you never take anything else away from these words, please remember this:

Nothing you put on your body or face can make you more beautiful that your actions or deeds. NOTHING. Anybody who tells you differently is lying.

I will love you and celebrate that beautiful soul of yours forever.