To my precious Calla Grace,
I am writing to you today, on my 31st birthday, as you are sleeping soundly in your bed. You are not even a year-old yet and I already worry for your future. Your Daddy would say that this isn’t anything new, I worry about you and your brothers all the time. But this is different. I worry about the world you are growing up in. I worry what this world is trying to teach you about the way that you look.
You are the most breathtaking baby I have ever laid eyes on. I love the way that you smile with your whole face–especially with your gorgeous blue eyes. I love your soft thin brown hair and your angelic, unblemished skin. You are beautiful in every sense of the word.
But what I want you to know, sweet girl, is that beauty is so much deeper than what we can see. True beauty comes from within.
There is so much that surrounds us that screams for attention to our outward appearance. You can’t open up a computer or turn on the television without some tainted and distorted view of beauty: As much bare skin as possible, cleavage for all to see, and a perfect body to boot. I worry about the effect these over-sexualized images have on your brothers and do everything I can to guard their innocent eyes. Now I also worry about the effects these images will have on you too–but in a different way. I worry that they will make you feel like the way God made you isn’t good enough–and that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
God knit you together in my womb and has already numbered all of your days (Psalm 139). He knows how tall you are going to be when you grow up, he knows what your body shape will be, and what color your hair will be. He knows when you will start getting gray hairs and the number of lines that will crease your face when you are ninety. He knows because He made you. And He says that you are wonderfully made. That’s what your Daddy and I say too.
When I was young, my mom and dad (your Papa and Lola) would lovingly tell me that I was beautiful inside and out. But for some reason, I don’t think that I ever really felt beautiful. In fact, I had this twisted notion that the phrase “beautiful inside and out” was some type of consolation for not being outwardly beautiful enough. Sweet one, that is the opposite of how I want you to see beauty.
Being told that you are beautiful on the inside is the most wonderful compliment you can ever be given. Don’t discount these words, precious girl. A girl who radiates beauty from the inside will ALWAYS be the most beautiful. Not because of the size of clothes she wears or how perfect her complexion is, but because she has the love of God within her–and NOTHING is more beautiful than that.
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, 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.” -1 Peter 3:3-4
I would love to say that it gets easier as you get older, that you become more confident and content with the way that God has made you, but unfortunately that just wouldn’t be the truth. The same insecurities that have plagued women my age when we were young continue to rear their ugly heads even as we get older and supposedly wiser. As I look in the mirror these days and see the toll carrying three babies has taken on my body and the lines that have found their permanent place along my eyes and around my mouth, it makes me sad that I don’t look how I looked 10 years ago or 15 years ago–when I still thought I wasn’t pretty enough.
God tells us that outward beauty is fleeting (Proverbs 31), which means that is how he designed it all along. He didn’t intend for women to look the same in their thirties and forties as they did in their teens or twenties, despite what Hollywood wants us to believe. There is a difference between taking care of our bodies and making them idols that we worship with our time and money. Don’t fall into this trap as you get older, my sweet girl, and I will try not to either. Treat your body with respect and take care of it, but do not let the pursuit of the perfect body consume your thoughts. It’s not worth it in the end.
Most of all, sweet girl, I want you to look for the beauty in others. Surround yourself with people who are gentle and treat others with kindness and respect, who love God and let the Holy Spirit guide their steps. When we love God, we love others well. It might be difficult to see the beauty in people who are unkind to you, but continue to look for it. Show kindness even when a sharp answer is warranted. Be a joyful peacemaker to all those around you. Honor others above yourself.
For this, my darling girl, is true beauty.