Hey you, yes you, the one who is poking her stomach in the mirror and pointing out every flaw about herself. You see the little eyes that are peeking out from behind the corner and watching your every movement? Yep, they are learning from you. They are taking their cues for what is beautiful based on what you show them. They are primarily learning what is beautiful through you. What are you teaching them? Especially in those times that you think they cannot hear the whisper under your breath as you tell yourself that you are fat and not beautiful. Or the times when your husband tells you that you are beautiful and you simply brush off his thoughtful and kind comment. Every time you bash yourself, every time you pull at your tummy, every time you tell someone they are crazy for considering you beautiful is another lesson that two pairs of little eyes and ears are watching, hearing and learning. Is this really what you want them to learn? That their beauty is simply marked by the outside? That who they are and their worth is simply defined by what their outside consists of?
This is a truth that is being gently reminded to me every day in the last week. Why did it start? I am ashamed to say because I know it was my heart and actions that led to the event that really began to spark these questions. I know that it is so important for me to tell my daughters where their beauty is found. It is found in the One who knitted them together in their mother’s womb. The One who knew their names long before their parents conceived them. (Psalm 139) The One who loves them more deeply than anyone on earth could possibly love them. The One who sent His only Son to die on a cross for them so that their beauty would be made complete. (John 3:16) Yes, those are the truths I want my daughters to have in the deepest parts of their soul. Their beauty is not in their outside appearance, although we are told in scripture that “they are fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14) No, their beauty is found in how God has made them. Each unique and gifted to glorify the Lord and make His name known. (1 Cor 12) They have each been made to touch lives for the Kingdom and in very different ways. They were purposed for this time and this place. They are beautiful!
So what is the problem….me. The incident that occurred was about a week ago. I was doing some things around the house and I walked around the corner and started moving past the girl’s bathroom door. There standing in the mirror was my 3 year old daughter up on a stool poking at her stomach with a grimaced look on her face. I asked her if she felt okay and she said, “Yes, I am just fat.” WHAT??? She proceeded to suck in her stomach and said, “there, now I am skinny.” I was so upset. She is 3?? I gently told her that she is not fat. She is healthy and the way she needs to be. I then reminded her of what God tells us beauty is, a girl who fears the Lord and loves Him with all of her heart. (Prov 31 and Duet 6) I could not get the image out of my mind. Fast forward to the evening and I had just finished a workout. Amelia comes into the room and says , “see momma, you do it to.” What? I looked down and realized that I was playing with my stomach bulge and rolling my eyes in frustration. At that moment, I realized that it is not just about telling my daughter’s how God sees them and what true beauty is, it is also about me, their mom, living that truth out. My heart hurt. In my insecurity and self-loathing, my precious 3 year old has been learning what beauty is and it is not the sort of truth I want her holding on to. Every time I criticize myself, every time I play with my fat, every time my daughters hear me say to their dad that his comments are untrue, every time I say that I am not beautiful or worthy, they are learning. Ouch! This hurts and is humbling. I have to start speaking truth about myself and about beauty if I want my girls to learn that truth as well. Just like James says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1: 22 It is difficult to teach them God’s truth if I do not live it out for them. The action is far greater than me just telling them, although telling them is super important as well. It is not good enough for me to speak this truth in their life and then not live it out. They need to see a mom that holds to the truth that she is fearfully and wonderfully made and that God loves her right in this moment and not because she is toned and spent three hours at the gym. They need to see how God defines beauty and they need to see it through me.
This is what I want my girls to see:
A mom who fears the Lord and loves Him with everything she has
A mom who depends on Him for her every need and satisfaction
A mom who spends time with her daughters, laughing, talking, loving, singing, reading, playing and other things. Even if that means that one day I do not get a run in or any other workout.
A mom who thanks her precious husband for times that he has expressed his satisfaction in her beauty.
A mom who respects her husband and is a good companion
A mom who serves those in need around her and who allows her children to be a part
A mom who puts her selfish desires down and spends time with her kids
A mom who prays for her kids and with her kids
A mom who eats healthy, not to look good but show them how we are to take care of the body God has given us
A mom that is active but teaches her kids to be that way as well so we can all do more for the glory of God.
A mom that reminds herself that God loves her just as she is and that He has fearfully and wonderfully made her.
A mom that chooses to be thankful rather than pessimistic
A mom that uses kind words instead of angry words
A mom who is generous
A mom that points others to Jesus
This is just a few that I am going to strive towards with the help of the Holy Spirit and my husband’s encouragement. This is the kind of beauty I want my girls to learn and model. The kind of beauty that is eternal.