She was hiding in a corner of a bedroom, with her tiny arms pulled tightly around her knees, like she could build a cave out of her small self.
She was crying.
I picked up the wrinkled ball of lined notebook paper she had tossed beside the bed. And I knelt down, smoothing out the paper with my hands.
My little girl—my beautiful, God-created masterpiece of a girl—had drawn a self-portrait. She had labeled the parts with angry arrows and slash-and-burn letters:
“Boring brown hair. Stupid glasses. Dumb freckles. Bad teeth.” One word was scrawled across the top in big letters: UGLY.
I gently peeled her arms away from her knees. She crumpled into my lap. I told her again and again how beautiful and lovely she was. We sat that way for a long time, rocking and whispering and mixing our hot tears together in one salty stream.
I curled my toes into the carpet, and pledged right then to live the truth that I was trying to tell her with my voice.
Yeah, I had all the right answers for my girl: That she’s beautiful. That she’s enough in Jesus. That her identity is in Christ alone. That God’s approval is all that matters.
But was I really living those answers with my life?
The most important lessons in life are—as they say—“caught not taught.”
And what are our children “catching” from us when we scowl at our own reflections, when we tell ourselves we’re too fat, too wrinkled, too unqualified, too unworthy? What lessons do our children “catch” when we run from the camera — or when we run from a calling because we’re afraid of failing?
How many slash-and-burn portraits have we drawn of ourselves?
Little girls with little insecurities grow up into big girls with big insecurities—who despise the size of their jeans, and their houses, and their 401Ks. All because we forget about the size of our God.
We can be 25 or 45 or 75 years old—still telling false narratives to ourselves about ourselves. We see the flaws. We count up the ways we’re “not enough.”
That day on the carpet, I vowed that I would provide a firm foundation for my two daughters to know that a woman’s identity is found in Christ alone. I wanted to teach that lesson, not just with my words, but with my life.
Retraining my heart would take years. But I knew it was worth the fight--for me and for my daughters.
My girls and I started saying these words out loud: “We’ve had enough of the not-enoughs.” We started telling each other that we’re “preapproved,” that we have nothing to prove. We are already approved through Christ Jesus.
Some days, old insecurities come knocking on the doors of our hearts. We’re tempted to tell lies about ourselves to ourselves when we’re rejected or knocked down or feeling not quite … enough.
But we keep right on telling the truth to each other. We keep right on telling each other that we’re loved, as-is, not as we think we should be.
Who knows? Maybe we will always have to remind each other—long after the girls are grown up, and I’m all gray.
But I’m okay with that. Because there could be worse things in life than reminding a person how dearly she’s loved by the King.
We are so grateful to have Jennifer share with us a glimpse of her brand new book Love Idol. There are some amazing reviews,check it out and grab a copy.
Jennifer Dukes Lee is a storyteller and a grace dweller. She and her husband are raising crops, pigs, and two humans on the Lee family farm in Iowa. She is the author of Love Idol:Letting Go of Your Need for Approval—and Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes. The book, released one month ago, has started a movement of women declaring that they are “preapproved” in Christ. Jennifer blogs about faith and life at JenniferDukesLee.com. She is a contributing writer for Dayspring’s (in)courage and for TheHighCalling.org. You can connect with her on Twitter @dukeslee.
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