“Yeah?” I answered.
“Julie says that her Mama told her that she is the most beautiful girl in the whole world.”
“Huh?” I asked, giving her my full attention.
“She said that if her Mama said it, then it’s true.” She looked at me with questioning eyes.
“Hmmmm.” My mind whirling as it donned on me how destructive these simple little “loving” comments could really be.
“Is it true Mama? Is she the most beautiful girl in the whole world? Her Mama tells her that every night before she goes to bed.” She searched my face for a response and reassurance.
I took my daughter’s hand, sat her down with me and looked her straight in the eye. “Yes.” I said, seeing the surprise of disappointment on the most beautiful face I have ever seen. “She is the most beautiful girl in the world, to her Mama. Sometimes, Mama’s can only see beauty in their own children. Her Mama wasn’t lying to Julie; she probably believes what she says. But, what she said isn’t true to everyone. Do you understand?”
“No.” She said with tears starting to well in her eyes.
I realized in that moment that my daughter wanted me to tell her that she was the most beautiful girl in the whole world. I wanted to cave and tell her what she wanted to hear. Then, I realized that I had allowed the values of the world to begin to shape my daughter’s perspective of what was important about her. I had not intervened and directed her to who Christ says that she is. I had even contributed to the frailty of her developing self value by putting emphasis more on her outward appearance than on her heart and relationship with Jesus. That was the changing moment, and I asked God to help me to know what to say next. I didn’t want to hurt her, but I had to disappoint her with truth in love, so that she would not be devastated later by the lie she had been learning. The lie that so many of us get sucked into, and waste time, money and energy on instead of things of true value. In retrospect, maybe I could have been more gentle. Although, in the moment, I didn’t have the benefit of hindsight. In fact, I was quite disturbed by the worldly education of superficial values she was already being indoctrinated with. So I continued on.
“You are a beautiful girl. God made you. He created every detail of you, and there is no one like you. But… there will always be someone prettier, smarter, or more creative than you are, or I am.” She was really upset now. “They are prettier, smarter and more creative because that is what the world says they are. The ‘world’ is what people think and believe. But those things are NOT what God says is important. It isn’t fair for Julie’s Mama to tell her those things.”
“Why?” She cut in.
“She means it to be nice, but really, Julie is only going to be sad when she realizes that not everyone thinks that she is the prettiest girl in the whole world.” She looked at me intently. “It would be better if Julie’s Mama told her how she is beautiful to God.” As I was talking, I realized I had been doing just as poorly in this area of parenting as Julie’s mother. “What really matters is who God says we are, and what HE says is beautiful about us.”
“What does He say?” She asked.
“God says that what is beautiful about us is our hearts – the inside person; how we love Him and want to know Him; how we love others and serve others for Him. These are the things that are really beautiful and the Bible teaches us how to have this kind of beauty. We are supposed to take care of our bodies because God gave them to us and they are His temple, but they are not what is most important about us. What is truly beautiful about you is that you love Jesus and you want to know Him more. You are His child, His treasure; He loves you and wants you with Him. You are His beautiful creation, He knows everything about you and will ALWAYS love you.”
Relief and joy flooded her face. She hugged me like I had told her the best news in the entire world, and really, I finally had. His truth set her free. Free to seek the Lord’s approval instead of people’s approval.
Surely, the female mind and heart love to hear that she is beautiful. Being “pretty” in a princess dress to “lovely” in a wedding gown are addresses to our femininity, and they bless us. The trick is, to teach our children not to desire this approval above all else. It would be better to raise a daughter who appreciates a complement, but wholly desires to know who she is in Christ. Of course we want her husband to appreciate her beauty. However, it is far more important that she is drawn to a man who thinks her walk with Christ is her most beautiful quality.
Maybe you believed the lies about what the world told you is beautiful. Maybe you have unwittingly taught your children these things as well. It can be hard to avoid in this superficial world we live in. Don’t despair; simply turn to your Father in heaven! He wants to show you just how precious and beautiful you are to Him. He will forgive your missteps and give your heart and mind a new perspective, if you ask Him. He will grow in you a beauty that will not fade.
After that conversation, my daughter loved to say, “I am God’s beautiful creation!”… She is, and so are you!
Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
1 Peter 3:3-4 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
Bible references taken from the New International Version