Having three daughters, I’ve always expected that we would encounter some challenging conversations about identity, comparison and what it means to be a godly woman. I just didn’t expect it to happen so soon.
Our oldest daughter is five. Five years old. And somehow, already, the seeds of inferiority have been planted in her heart. Her daddy would tell you that she is just a smaller version of me, full of all my strength and stubbornness and fire. Unfortunately, that also means she has inherited my natural tendency toward comparison and perfectionism. She notices people. She has been given the gift of being able to make people feel known and loved and at home. But along with her noticing, she also longs to know that she measures up. I have always been very intentional to avoid using comparing language when I am with her, and have worked hard to improve the way I talk about my own appearance.
But even with all the care I’ve taken, she still tells me that her legs are too skinny, her hair is a bad color, and that the one tiny freckle on her sweet little nose is in the exact wrong place. Most of the time these comments are quick and in passing, and the best I know to do is pray and encourage her to see herself as beautiful.
One afternoon I found her facedown on the couch, crying her eyes out. She tends to have a flare for drama, so when I asked her what was the matter I expected something trivial and fleeting, certain we would quickly be out from under this cloud of despair. Her answer was far from what I expected. She had been arguing with her brother and the result was not pretty. “Ben made me feel so stupid. I’m the worst girl ever!”
It would have been easy to blow off. Given her tendency to overreact and exaggerate the situation, it would have seemed reasonable to ask her to let it go and move on. But I recognized those words, because I’ve said them to myself. I know the feeling of placing your hope and security on the opinions of others and the pain of being let down. I know what it’s like to have your identity shaped by all of the ways you don’t measure up. It also would have been easy to give her a fluffy answer, something reassuring and positive to boost her spirits. After all, she’s only five; why make it a bigger deal than it is? But I’m realizing that I only get so many chances. Though I pray it never happens, there may come a day when she doesn’t want to trust me with what is deep inside of her.
If I am not willing to shepherd her heart when she is small, I may not get the privilege of being the one she turns to when it really matters.
I decided to tell her the truth. “I know you feel like the worst girl ever. And you can choose to believe that about yourself. But it is a lie. Mommy spent a lot of time believing lies about herself, too. I spent a lot of time believing that I wasn’t good enough and that no one liked me. But sweetie, when we believe lies about ourselves it takes our hearts far away from Jesus because He only tells us what is true. And the truth about you is that He made you just as you are for a special purpose. We can choose to trust Him to do His good work in you.”
She answered these words with a tearful hug and an, “I love you, mommy!” before she scampered off to reconcile with her brother. If only it were always so easy to recover from heartache. Clearly, this will not be our last conversation on the subject. But a better seed has been sown in the soil of her heart. She knows she is not alone in her struggle to believe the truth. And as I am faithful to tell her the truth, to water and cultivate that seed, I am trusting God to produce fruitful growth in her.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
Beautiful truths shared. Psalm 45:10 “Listen daughter and pay careful attention; Forget your people and your father’s house. Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your Lord.” As daughters of The King, we must continue to speak truth, life, and beauty into our daughters and granddaughters to counteract the lies of the enemy, our culture and even ourselves. Blessings to you as you continue to shepherd your children’s hearts.
Add a Comment