I have discovered my favorite moments with my kids are at night. These are the moments they tell me all about their day. This could go on for hours, if I wouldn’t flip the light off. I love to hear what was challenging to them, what made them happy or why they were sad.
I was sitting in bed with my daughter, Sophie, a few weeks ago as she was especially chatty about a new book that had caught her attention. She was reading Wonder. With her pre-teen dramatics in full flare-up, she explained to me the plot of the book (which I already knew). She was very upset because the main character of the book was being bullied, just because he looked different.
“Auggie loves Stars Wars just like me, mom. These kids are just cruel!”
She was getting it. I want my children to be empathetic. I want my daughter and all of my kids to understand how to treat all kids, no matter what they look like, with love and kindness.
I was about to be thrown for another loop, without any hesitation my daughter says, “Mom, when I get older, I probably don’t want to look exactly like you. It would be a little scary to look like you.” Her hand touched my nose as she said, “if my nose was crooked, well, the kids in my class would make fun of me.”
After a momentary loss of words, her head was still tilted down to the bed as her eyes searched for my response. I quickly changed the conversation to humor, “well no one wants these fangs” and I pretended to bite my victim with a sinister laugh. I turned my head and walked to the closet with tears rolling down my face. I quickly leafed through shelves of clothes for yet another day. I gave each of my girls a kiss goodnight and my daughter looked into my eyes as if she knew my thoughts. “What’s the matter, mommy?” I simply replied, “The cat must be making my eyes itchy.”
For an instant I wanted to tell her “I want to look like all the other mommies, but I never will. I am sorry if I embarrass you.” I wanted to tell her that I want her to want to grow up and emulate her mom in every way. But I simply said “goodnight”.
I went as quickly as I could to my bathroom and looked in the mirror and looked at the reflection staring back at me. I covered half of my face and I saw a beautiful reflection, then removed my hand to see the other half which is full of scars from a childhood tragedy that was part of my past. I squinted my eyes hard enough and saw a blurred reflection, a photoshopped like image that made everything look better at that moment in time.
In that moment, I was taken back to church when I prayed to God as a little girl. I would hear the words in service “I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the words and you shall be healed.” I remember praying, “Jesus, maybe this week you will say the words to heal me.” I was not sure what the words were but maybe God could heal me. Quite possibly, God would snap his fingers or if I closed my eyes tight enough when I opened them “POOF!”.
As a 38 year old Young woman, I have somehow come to realize that although this “Poof theory”, as I call it, would be quite lovely it doesn’t exist. I have this sneaky suspicion that Jesus saves his miracles for more important things.
That night, as I looked at myself one last time, I realized that I am exactly the imperfectly perfect image that God has created. As I look in the mirror at each imperfection there is also strength. Jesus has healed me by giving me the courage and determination through adversity. He has shown me love and given me love to share. By trusting in God, I have had the opportunity to see that true beauty lies within and a beautiful heart is more powerful than outside appearances.
With new breath, I walked back upstairs and told my daughter three things that night:
BE KIND – Don’t ever say words that would hurt someone else. Only say words that you would want to hear. Just like Auggie – words hurt and once you say them you can’t take them back.
YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL – You have a beautiful heart and that is more important than what you look like, always. Do not judge anyone on their looks or their differences.
BE YOU – Make good choices, let God help you because he is always with you.
I never realized how I would feel after a short conversation. The fact is our past is part of us and makes us who we are today. I believe that we all have had moments of wanting to be more beautiful, smarter or even wealthier. My prayer today is that we find peace and beauty in recognizing the strengths we have.
“God will make everything beautiful in your life in his time. He will drop flowers of Grace in the garden of your heart so all will see the beauty that is your life in Christ.”