Recently my daughter came into the bathroom where I was getting ready and looked into the mirror. She had on a puffy winter coat and with an embarrassed expression asked, “Does this make me look fat?” I cringed. My kids know that weight is not something we focus on in our home but instead we focus on health. I try not to speak that way about myself or anyone else, certainly never saying something negative about my body image in front of her, and never in a million years saying anything about her except how incredibly beautiful she is. Where in the world did that statement come from?! When did she start evaluating herself in the mirror?! When did she start thinking about what others think when they look at her? All of that went flooding through my head.
I’ve known these moments were coming. John and I tell our children often how beautiful they are to us and how perfectly we believe God made them. We try to only speak positively about how others look and I really try to only speak about our own weight or fitness in front of them if we’re discussing what we could do to make it better. How it relates to our choices. We want them to know that it takes hard work and dedication and sacrifice, but we don’t want it to in any way be the most important thing or a consuming thing. I pray that they know what truly matters to us, and I believe they do.
Quite a while ago, Kailey began to notice that her hair was different from other girls’ hair. She talked about it tangling and mentioned the pretty, straight hair of some girls. While I must stifle the desire to tell her it is the craziest thing in the world to even consider looking at someone else’s hair when she has HERS, I do realize that this is something that happens to every person. At the core, it is not about how good your own is, it’s about someone else’s being different. Comparison is straight poison, pure and simple. And if we were to turn around and compare with someone else in different circumstances, we would feel nothing but gratitude for what we have. Silly, but it is how we silly humans operate, unfortunately, unless we make a very conscious decision to do differently and to put our eyes elsewhere. So I began our own little Mommy/Kailey tradition when it was time to do her hair. As I combed through those beautiful, tangled curls, I sang the silliest song I made up on the spot about her hair. It has varied slightly over the hundreds of times I have sung it, but it goes something like:
Beautiful, shiny, beautiful, shiny,
Beautiful, shiny curls.
Your hair is so beautiful,
God made you beautiful,
Beautiful little girl!
That way I figured for a few minutes every day, the message I wanted her heart to be hearing was being washed over her. She is beautiful. She is loved. She is exactly the way God wants her and she is exactly the way her mother wants her. I often think of the tape that will play in her head (does it have to be an mp3 now?) because of me. We all have them from our mothers. The things we hear about ourselves because of what they said or did. I take that recording incredibly seriously. I know I will answer to God for what I left on that impressionable heart. And only through His grace and wisdom can I make it the beautiful orchestra of love I want it to be.
So I’m standing there cringing, feeling a little frustrated that this negative question has entered our happiness as she looked into the mirror. I was putting on my own makeup and shot up my usual communication with God about handling the situation. And it came to me. I told Kailey we were going to begin doing something every time we looked in the mirror or thought about our appearance. We were not going to ask that question, but some others that would truly tell us if we were ready for our day or our outing. So daily we have begun asking ourselves these questions, and I have to admit to you, it is blessing me just as much as it is her. Would you like to join us in our 4 Mirror Questions every morning? It only takes a few seconds! Maybe you have different ones of your own. I would love to know what things you do with your daughter to speak beauty into her life!
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
1. “Do I look happy?” There is nothing in the world as attractive as happiness. What needs to happen to my focus if the answer is “no” today?
2. “Do I look like I love Jesus?” Is there anything about my appearance that would cause someone to be shocked when they found out Jesus was the most important thing in my life? Is there something I should change?
3. “Do I look like I’m taking care of myself?” I have one body to use for all the purposes God has for my life. Am I protecting it and taking care of it in a way that makes it the best vessel for me? Do I look rested, healthy, neat? What needs to be addressed?
4. “Does anything about my appearance not match my inside?” Yes, we shouldn’t judge by outward appearance, but we get one chance at a first impression. I have an opportunity with what others see to tell them something about me. Who I am, what I like, what is important to me. It’s a head start in being myself and being real and genuine with those around me. Am I using that opportunity to its full potential?
We are bonding over this and the Lord is speaking to my heart as well. We both feel that when we are wearing pink, we can answer a particularly firm “yes” to our outside matching our inside. 😉 Any mom of five kids doesn’t look in the mirror every morning and think, “You look so put together! Your outfit, your trim abs, your perfect, styled hair! Where did you get those shoes?!” Yeah, not so much. Anyone who knows me well knows style and fashion aren’t on the top of my list of priorities and that shows when I get ready to leave the house. And that’s fine because, again, it’s a choice. My time, effort, and money are simply somewhere else right now. I make sure I can answer these questions satisfactorily and then I make sure my husband is pleased. Beyond that, there will be a time and a place for shoes that don’t have to carry me a hundred miles a day with a baby on my hip…far too soon. But, just like everyone else, I need bolstering and support on occasion and isn’t it only God who can send words in an instant that will meet the heart needs of a six year old girl and her thirty-two year old mom? He is good. Praying He will continue to give wisdom as I prepare to mother this beautiful heart into early womanhood. She is so precious to me and how much more precious she is to Him. And so are you! May we put our eyes on His love for us and know that we always have the choice to refuse the poison apple of comparison and to remember that we were made in the Image of “The Fairest of Them All.”