Sep 30, 2009

Growing in Beauty

So I have a girl. I going to be honest. We didn't find out what Ainsley was before she was born, and I secretly hoped for another boy. Not that I didn't want a girl. I just find them far more challenging. Sure, boys do things like pee off trees (see my last blog post), but in the long run, I think girls are the most challenging to raise. Mostly because girls are far more emotional and struggle with self-worth far more than boys. I taught middle school for several years, so perhaps dealing with the emotional hormones of the 6th-8th grade girls has left me jaded in this area....however, I think that the struggle for confidence and self-worth are a life-long struggle for most women. So this is my beautiful girl. She's a tiny little thing. On growth charts she is at the .19 percentile. Yes, that's POINT one nine. That wasn't a typo. But she is full of life and confidence at the moment.

She believes herself to be a very big girl, and loves to stand on the scale, because this shows how "big" she is.

She thinks she is SO big!

At what point does this confidence slip away? At what point do women look in the mirror and see their flaws? Out of all my best friends, I could tell you what each of them thinks is their most glaring physical flaw. And should you ask me, I could quickly tell you what parts of my body doesn't match what I think counts as "beautiful" by the world's standards. But this is changing as I grow older. To tell you the truth, I see my friends as such beautiful strong women, and I am honored to be counted as a friend among them. I don't see any flaws. And this has also changed in myself as I peer into the mirror everyday.

"Beauty is not in the face. Beauty is a light in the heart." --Kahlil Gibran
It's true isn't it? I believe this is why children are so beautiful. They still possess that "light in the heart" that shines with purity and innocence.

"Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see Beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see Beauty never grows old."
-- Frank Kafka

So my question still stands. At two, Ainsley has all the confidence in the world. She loves to comb her hair, get dressed up, and believes herself to be beautiful. When do women first decide that they are inadequate? That their beauty doesn't quite measure up?
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won't feel unsure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. As we let our own Light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. "
-- Marianne Williamson

I want my children to know that they are made with a unique light that needs to shine. It is not in the outward appearance. But rather what is in the heart transforms the very essence of your being. It reflects in the eyes, the creases around the mouth, the very way you hold yourself up, and the unconscious mannerisms of your body. And who will model this the best for my children? I will. What a large and grave responsibility. My children walk in my footsteps.

"Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical."
-- Sophia Loren

It transforms the physical.

And somehow, I think beauty is earned. You may be born pretty, but there is a difference with beauty.
Pretty is something you're born with. But beautiful, that's an equal opportunity adjective.

"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen. "
-- Elizabeth Kubler Ross

While as a mother, my first instinct is to protect my children, yet somehow, I also think that they need to experience the heartaches of life. And they will. Because sooner or later, life catches up with everyone. My job is not to protect them from life, but to prepare them for life. A subtle difference, but quite a strong one. I want my children to know defeat, suffering, struggle and loss. I don't think I am a terrible mother to admit this....because I also want them to rise above it. Because only then will they know joy, confidence, their worth, grace, patience, and kindness. True beauty stems from true depth and character of the soul. Something that doesn't "just happen." My heart aches for my children, but my heart also hopes for my children. I have great hopes for the person they will become.
I used to hate my smile. Too large, it showed a lot of teeth and gums, I have large lips. I mean it literally takes up most of my face. I used to be self-conscious. The last time I went to the dentist, she told me I should consider plastic surgery to make them smaller. But I have learned that my smile was my greatest means to disarming other people, and making them feel at ease. I have a loud laugh. It's not a cute chuckle. But I've learned to let it loose. Laugh loud. Because my smile and laugh are ME. They are genuine. When I am confident and at ease in my laugh and smile, they are beautiful. I believe it. They are beautiful. While too big to ever grace the cover of a magazine, I believe they are one of God's greatest gifts to me. I would never get that plastic surgery.
"You can take no credit for beauty at sixteen. But if you are beautiful at sixty, it will be your soul's own doing. "
-- Marie Stopes

"The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives."
-- Albert Einstein
So, yes, God saw fit to give me a girl. A beautiful girl. One girl whom I hope learns to let her inner beauty shine, learns to cultivate the true beauty of the soul, and one who can look past the temporal shallow images of false beauty, and find the "real deal".

I love you little girl! I hope you grow in the knowledge, grace, and beauty of our Lord and Savior!


  1. For the record- I love your smile!

  2. I love the dreams you dream for your kids and I sincerely hope they come true. Continue telling your beautiful girl how beautiful she is and don't ever stop! That was such a struggle for me growing up and I'm so thankful that it has come to pass, but middle and high school can be so rough on girls. Listen to her concerns about herself and listen intently. Often times, my mom would brush it off telling me that it was "just a phase". Yes, it is a phase, but it's so much more to a young girl. Teach her to compliment others because will help build their self esteem and hers in return. You are such a smart woman to already be thinking about such things for your kids! They are blessed!

    Btw...I love your smile! I can't believe anyone would even offer to change it.