This weekend, we spent about 6 hours total putting in this awesome hair-do.
Then, on Saturday, we rushed out the door and got in the car, only a few minutes late for soccer. Hope, sporting her new twists, pulled on shin guards and soccer socks and cleats as we drove away from the house. My sporty girl. And as she got all geared up she said, "Mom, do you wear make-up to make yourself prettier?"
Rarely do you get the opportunity to fully prepare for these important conversations. Oh, it's not that I don't think about how I will answer my girls' questions about faith or love or sex or beauty. It's just that I am never quite able to articulate in my head exactly how I want that conversation to go. Exactly how I will phrase the important truths that I so desperately want them to know. Exactly what those most important truths are.
This weekend, I got to babysit my 6 month old niece for a few days. And I had forgotten how much I liked the rhythms of feeding and sleeping that babies have. More than that, I forgot how much I liked being able to meet every need. Babies are simple. Feed, change, sleep. Repeat. You can feel like you've accomplished something at the end of a day with a baby. Like you've met all of their needs. 8 year olds are different. Their needs feel as numerous as the stars. All the things you want them to know and believe and hold tight to come rushing at you sometimes, and you wonder if you've ever truly said them out loud. Or if they've seen you live it out enough to believe it's true. And it feels like time is slipping away. That someday soon, they might believe what someone else says more than they believe you.
I wanted to lie to Hope and tell her that I only wear make up because it's fun. That I felt beautiful with or without it. But, it does make me feel prettier. And now I just feel bad about that. Do I have to be a no make-up wearing woman in order to convince my daughter that God created her beautifully? What I said to her was this, "Hope, I think I do wear make-up because sometimes it makes me feel prettier. But I'm not sure that's right. I think it should just be for fun. And, I do feel like God made me pretty just the way I am. But I didn't always feel like that. I feel like that now because God has shown me how he made me beautiful." I think it was an okay answer.
I worry all the time that I am getting it wrong. That my wearing make-up or putting yarn twists in Hope's hair is sending a message that speaks louder than the truths I want her to believe. But I also know that I am raising my girls in a state of grace. That there is grace enough for me to figure these things out. And grace enough if I never do. I know that her yarn twists or my love of mascara will not be the end of God's pursuit of her and it won't be the end of all that I have to teach her about beauty. Here's what I want her to know about beauty in the midst of a culture obsessed with pursuing it's own distorted version of it: Pursue God, instead. It's the only way to see ourselves clearly. And when we do, we get to see all the beauty in us that he sees. And we will believe that it's true, and feel a rush of pleasure at what he's created.
I hope that someday she knows that she is beautiful because God has made it so. And that she will be prepared to fight for that truth in a world that would seek to tell her otherwise. For now, I'll fight for her as best I know how. I'll tell her often and emphatically that she is exquisite. I'll point out the lies that our culture tells about beauty. And I will open my hands as I pray, offering her up to God, and professing my belief in these things. "She is yours, Lord. You take great delight in her. You have made her beautiful." I'll believe it for her. And I'll keep asking God to show me how to teach it and how to live it out. And I'll be grateful for grace.