Listen, Daughter, and pay careful attention:
Forget [other] people…Let the King be enthralled by your beauty;
honor Him, for He is your Lord (Psalms 45:10, 11).
My Dearest Darling Daughter,
I want to tell you I’m sorry, as well as confess to you that–even though I’m “Half-A-Century” years old–I still feel afraid sometimes. And for that, too, I’m sorry–because I want to be strong for you, to model courage with grace.
We live in a cruel world full of hypocrisies. Attractive, shining people all around tell us that a woman’s worth isn’t determined by her outward appearance, that women are made for so much more than merely being sex symbols, and we believe them. After all, these particular people are often politicians or actresses or singers, and they should know. Right?
But then we look at the television or watch a movie or read a magazine or listen to a song on the radio, and we abruptly face the stone cold truth, which hits us hard and plays tricks with our minds. Tantalizes our emotions. Yes, flirts with our feelings–first, birthing a sense of discontent; then stirring a determination to do something; and finally, leaving us with the hollow of failure when we learn, yet again, that…
We don’t look like that person on TV…
The advertised product must only work for “other” people…
The thrill of love must only be for those who are attractive. Beauty has everything to do with what can be seen–one’s physique, as well as her clothing, hairstyle, and makeup choices–because that song, that movie, that commercial, they tell us so.
Hollow’s not a fun feeling, though it’s all too familiar, dear Daughter. Oh, how I want to protect you from such.
You know that cute little powder table I gave you–the one that was mine when I was a girl?
Like you, I’d sit before its mirror–makeup all spread out before me and experiment. Try that mascara. Apply that lipgloss. Powder my nose. Oh, yes–and how about those hot rollers? Armed with brush and spray, I’d curl and tease and spray, only to tease again, then spray (It was the 80s, after all!) until I’d get it just right and was finally satisfied.
Only, that’s a lie–because rarely was I satisfied, darling Daughter.
I’d leave that little table with a lie tucked in my heart–Why, oh why, do lies always sneer so?–mocking, “You’re not pretty enough or thin enough, and those clothes sure don’t fit you the way they appeared on that model in Teen Magazine.” And facing the world wearing a lie is a dangerous thing, let me tell you. It can almost knock you defenseless, truth be told–because when one girl believing a lie meets another who’s believing her own… well, let’s just say that two negatives do not make a positive. In fact, there’s likely enough power in their two lies combined to ignite the flame of self-loathing that can lead to all sorts of self-destructive behavior–like eating disorder or sexual promiscuity or cutting, just to name a few. And when one’s unhappy–constantly carrying that hollow of discontent and failure–she often tries to destroy others, too. That’s just a sad and cold, hard fact.
You know, don’t you, precious Daughter? It’s called bullying, and it’s nothing new. Hardly, in fact–because misery loving company is an age-old thing. When one stays miserable long enough–often wearing the sadnesses of neglect, maybe abuse, at home, a place where there’s supposed to only be nurture and love–she knows no other means by which to pull herself up than to pull others down, and so that’s what she does. And, finding satisfaction for a season, she does it again and again–collecting her victims like some collect tea sets, and they’re each almost as fragile. They can get broken just like china, dear. That’s for certain.
Dear Daughter, I want to warn you of those sorts so you won’t believe a word when they choose you to prey upon, because likely they will. When you’re told in the fifth grade that you should really have your own iPhone or be allowed to socialize with the world on Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat or you’re nothing, reject it. Run. Flee as fast as you can. See it for what it is–bullying at its best. Have no part in that. And please–Please!–never stop feeling content with face-to-face friendships and fine conversations–even when the topics are nothing more than who’s the cutest boy in your class and what you hope to do over summer vacation.
I caught you looking sideways in the mirror the other day–silently checking out your profile, sucking in just a little–and honestly, my heart broke a bit, and I heard myself suck in breath. Because I remember. I remember too well–recall what ensued. All those years of insecurity and counting every calorie. An obsession with exercise during seasons of my worst sickness–even jogging in place at weird, round-the-clock hours. Binge eating ice cream, making certain to leave the contents completely level–smoothed out perfectly–before placing the container back into the freezer. One chocolate chip out of place and the whole routine began again–all the while, listening for the coming footsteps, always afraid my sick fetish would be discovered, yet somehow hoping it would. Always the silent cry for help.
I’m sorry, precious Daughter, that you don’t have a perfect parent. Instead, you have one that feels a surge of inner fear when you ask for that second helping when, only moments earlier, you’d complained that your pants felt too tight. And I about lose it when one of your brothers teases you, saying, “Your cheeks are chubby!” as he squeezes them affectionately. Honestly, I feel my own face flush, and I nearly yell at him to quit because, at that moment, I’m remembering that time in 7th grade when a well-meaning boy named Matt said something similar of mine. “Stop it!” I almost scream. “Don’t tease her!” And one or the other looks at me like I’ve lost my mind. (Oh, I really do need to have a heart-to-heart with them so they’ll know. So they’ll understand. I apologize for not having done that yet.)
Oh, and another thing. Just a few evenings ago, we thought (or hoped) we’d be safe to watch the NFL Super Bowl halftime show. We’d only watched for a few moments when we knew we were wrong but kept watching anyway, in horror. Oh, I’m sorry for that, too. You finally looked at me, eyes so big and round, and asked–
Don’t they even care about us?
And I looked at you in amazement–because you got it. You really, really did.
You saw in the sequins-covered costumes, which seemed barely more than decorative thongs and pasties, the hypocrisy of this fallen, broken, sin-stained world–the world I so often boast about being so beautiful, and it is. Still, it only took a 10-year old to see truth. To call out the lies. To call it to account. With just those few word…
Don’t they even care about us?
I’m so, so sorry, dear. It doesn’t appear that they do care. Though each of those performers has likely touted her personal beliefs regarding such topics as women’s rights and freedom from domination for all females, those women–both moms themselves–danced and sang scantily clad, donning ropes around wrists and midsections (Depicting what? Bondage?) with, at least at one point, little girls on stage with them–in cages even. And the American flag? It was worn, but why? In an effort to somehow bring the “American Way” into the debauchery? Appear patriotic, perhaps? Was this meant to be serious in nature? Or satirical? Or both?
I’m sorry, darling Daughter. We should have turned the TV off immediately. Not watched it at all. But maybe, just maybe, the message might manage to grow into something good? Because you understand, and you, dearest, became in that moment the teacher. I was the student.
Don’t they even care about us?
You understood. You got it, and you called them on it.
And perhaps you’re not the only one. Maybe you and a gathering of girls will grow up and fight for true freedom. Throw off the lies that threaten to get into the pockets of your hearts. Turn from the powder tables–even while wearing a little lipgloss and some Love’s Baby Soft–and make the world a more beautiful place.
A softer, gentler place.
A more kind and loving place.
You know that little pink button–the one you like to wear on your denim jacket? Well, I have a confession. I took it off when I was doing laundry, and I even considered throwing it away. After all, I wasn’t certain I liked what it said, but I let it sit on our laundry room counter for several weeks before picking it up again just the other day. Now I believe I’m beginning to better understand.
I’m glad you’re my Girl, darling Daughter. God knew just what He was doing when He brought you our way. After all, He knew what this Momma needed, because even at “Half-A-Century” years of age, she still needs to be reminded of the Truth that prevails, and your Love, Baby Girl, is a healer.
I’m sorry if I’m slow to learn, but–after all this–I think I’ll be a bit easier on myself. Walk in grace. Grow in beauty. Go out with courage. Sing a little louder–
Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so….
Best yet, one doesn’t even have to try. Jesus just loves us, plain and simple–just as we are.
Thank you for modeling all this for me with your wonderful, winsome ways. I hope and pray you always love horses and baking and making people happy.
I don’t just love you. I like you a lot, too.
Merciful Friend, please protect our daughters. They live in a world of hypocrisy and lies, and there’s one who yet lurks in and around many corners seeking whom he may devour. Sometimes his lies are subtle; other times, loud. Oh, Loving Savior–please be louder. Help me to be louder too. This is my prayer.