The expo marker in my hand shook as my daughter read the insecurities out loud: fat, short, too shy, ugly, I don’t like my face, not smart, too tall, scared I won’t say the right thing, I don’t have the right clothes, my stomach, my big feet, my weight…the list went on and on. Tears threatened my eyes as I wrote. These small voices sharing their hearts, only 5th graders, yet already so aware of their flaws. The row of words stood stark and lonely alongside one another, each telling the pain of the other.
Someone has got to tell them. Because time is running out.
They will grow up, and in the middle school years swallow the lie that who they are is only as valuable as the price tag on their jeans, the shape of their bodies, and the beauty of their face.
Unless…you and me… TELL THEM.
We talk about inner beauty but what does this really mean? I mean, for real. Not just ideas, but with skin on?
It looks like the teacher who decides to write a note every day for Lent to give more of herself to others. The friend who decides to offer extravagant generosity simply to be a blessing. The man who walks a grocery cart back to the store for a young mom. The sibling who gives up his seat for his sister because she doesn’t have one. The woman who gives of her time to mentor younger girls. The forgiving, the sacrificing, the generous, the good-hearted, the wise, the KIND.
Let’s take our girls to higher vantage points where they can look down from the mountain summit and see goodness doing the hard work of climbing trails. Inner beauty does not come easily. It requires that we sacrifice, choose the good, risk, serve, and look out for the interest of others. It loves and treats people the way we want to be treated and loved.
But insecurity does its best to sabotage the whole operation. My daughter and I came up with a diagram that shows the spiral pattern of this thief:
When we focus on our insecurities it leads to comparing ourselves with others. We hold up a measuring stick to those around us. She has more friends. She is smarter, prettier, skinnier. I could never be the athlete she is so why try? This dangerous mental activity breeds self doubt. And it isn’t long before we are hyper-sensitive and aware of what everyone else thinks about us. Like a boat tossed and thrown by the wind, our ships drift wherever popular opinion wants to go. Without knowing it, we hand over our identity to someone else and allow insecurity to derail our center.
There is another way.
Let’s not only teach our girls to walk this other path, let’s show it to them by how we live. Let’s be people who know that shining a light to a dark world means we go counter culture in the way we love, act, and live.
I was so proud of my girl tonight – now a freshman in high school. She talked about her insecurities through the years, what she knows now about beauty, and what she has learned. She still has some work to do in these areas herself, but she stood in front of all of those 5th grade girls and TOLD THEM.
Our girls cannot hear enough:
*There is no one else created like you – you are special.
*The gifts and talents you’ve been given are for a reason – use them.
*Stop comparing and start reaching out to a world who needs YOU.
*Be the friend you want to have.
*Know who you are, not who culture, or the girl who sits next to you, wants you to be.
*Take risks. Have the courage to make the decisions you know are right.
My daughter and I call this living in the Cycle of Security, and no matter what the age, we all need people to help us stay here:
How much more do we want our girls to live in THIS cycle? So let’s live in it ourselves first, and then teach it from a place of security.
My daughter had some girls come to the front of the room and rip all of the papers with their insecurities to shreds. There is a new way to think.
Let’s live it and teach it.