Dear Sweet Girl,
My heart aches for you and the world that surrounds you.
I see a young girl, barely a teenager, that has already been told by society that she isn’t good enough. How in the world can that possibly be? How can a community of people, who should be shepherding a child’s heart, say to my extraordinary girl, “keep tryin’, kid. Maybe one day you’ll get there”? I remember holding you, my just-born baby girl, for the first time and thinking that you were absolutely beautiful and perfect. So capable of achieving great things. So able to bring joy and laughter to all and I just knew the world would see the same thing. I thought I could protect you from the cruelty of the world. Your story of self-worth would be much different than mine. I prayed that God would guide me with wisdom and love as your mom, begging for it to be enough to make you feel loved. "Make it enough, Lord, that she never doubts that she is loved and valued.” Yet, that isn’t how it goes today, in this world that aches for grace. And that makes my heart break in pieces for you.
Just yesterday, you were marching into Kindergarten with your Disney Princess backpack and matching lunch box, right? Wasn’t it just yesterday that you held my hand as you walked through that brightly decorated classroom that held the promise of walls to be adorned with backwards letters, stick figure self-portraits, and art pieces comprised of glued on beans and pasta noodles? Now I see you as a high school freshman struggling to keep up with the Kardashians. Really? This is what we give young girls to look up to? Never would I have guessed that there would be a bigger fight than I originally anticipated to keep your self-worth in check. This is an all-out war against females today.
You see, beautiful girl, the world can be such a wonderful place filled with genuine people who truly want the best for you and understand what love is really about. There are some selfless people that will cross your path and be a light in your life. Those people, with the help of God, will stretch your limits to find WHY you were created. They will be your cheerleaders, your listening ears, and shoulders to cry on. Sadly, it’s also filled with hurt people that hurt people and choose to believe that the key to a successful life is by looking out only for themselves and will do whatever it takes to get to the top, even if it means hurting you.
We live in a world where beauty wins. What you look like, what you drive, the clothes you wear and the size on the tags of your pants will determine your worth. The smoother the skin, the glossier the hair and the slimmer your waist, is a sure-fire formula to accomplish much in our society. Is that really more important than whether you are kind, empathetic, giving, loving, compassionate? Looks outweigh character?
That can’t be right. I need you to know it is not right. Society is selling you a lie, sweet girl. This culture is trying to make you feel completely inadequate if you don’t look the same as the airbrushed, Photoshop-assisted models that grace the covers of magazines. With all that I am and lessons I have learned, you must understand that there is so much more to life. I want to spare you the struggles I have endured. I want you to be confident in who God created you to be. If you learn to cling to the truth in who you are much sooner than I did, you are sparing yourself from many emotional scars. WHO you are and not what you look like are the character traits that matter.
I went through most of my life never feeling like I was good enough. I fought to believe that I could do something great with my life or that I would achieve success on my own. I wondered, what did I have that made me special? Why did I think I do something big or important in my life?
I struggled to believe that I could be loved. Without my father in the picture, I was missing that positive male role-model to show me how a man should treat a woman. I thought my worth depended on whether a man loved me. I was yearning for that positive affirmation and believed it would come from a man. I didn’t hear “I love you” from my family until after you were born. I wanted to be the best in all I did, I longed to know that someone, anyone, was proud of me. Those boys that say they love you, don’t mean it. Having a boyfriend doesn’t equal self-worth. Those who want to be with you simply because you are beautiful, and have no interest in knowing your dreams, your fears, what makes you laugh, what breaks your heart, what you have faith in, or what is behind that bright smile, have no right to your heart.
I struggled with my weight and self-image all my life. I went from being so thin that it wasn’t healthy to doing everything I possibly could to drop the extra 30 pounds I was carrying. I hated being skinny, I hated the extra weight I was carrying, I hated my skin, my nose, my brown eyes…What is a woman to think of herself if society tells her that she can’t fit into the box of perfection they have created for her? How would you come to know that grace and unconditional love is outside of that box if you spend so much time and effort to fit IN the box?
I chose to listen to the standards placed on me by society that would determine whether or not I was beautiful. I chose to believe the lies. It was all superficial, and it remains very much so today, there was no worth placed on the character of a woman. Instead of being judged by your kindness, or your work ethic and skill, you’re being judged by how well that selfie turned out. You’re judging yourself by these same standards. That breaks my heart. I want the world to see the same beautiful young lady I see, that has a compassionate heart and an amazing sense of humor. I want the world to see the joy that fills a room when you enter. Most of all, I want YOU to see those things when you look in the mirror. I want you to see what God sees in you.
The struggle to feel valued is a generational cycle that I knew I had to break. The lack of confidence that I inherited needs to stop with me. I can’t pass this on to you. I can’t ask you to carry this burden. It’s a heavy burden that will affect your emotional health, physical health, and mental health. It affects your relationships. It creates wedges between people. It affects the work you do, or don’t do. The day I became a mom was the day I knew that I had to help you find your way through this world and lead you to God. You have incredible gifts and talents that God has given only to you and you need to share them with the world. We are not meant to carry this load of insecurity, doubt, and shame. God’s grace is sufficient for us and He made each of us women in His image.
Learning to stand out from the crowd and not buy the lie that you must comply with the standards placed on yourself is a learned skill and comes with time. I pray that you can overcome the expectations and help to set an example for your generation to embrace the uniqueness we have each being given. How boring of a world would this be if we were all the same? Allow yourself grace. Dance in your imperfections. Rest in Jesus’ perfect love. Don’t buy the lie, peanut...you are enough.
You, sweet girl, are wonderful and worthy of love. From others…but most of all, yourself. Take the time to love yourself and embrace how you were created and go forward to spread your joy and kindness. Treat your body with respect-eat well, exercise, get rest, and be kind to it. You need it for the rest of your life. It is perfect and strong and created to do amazing things. Be comfortable in your own skin. Laugh at yourself and be proud of who you are and know, above all else, you are always loved exactly as you are.
Love you always,