Dear Little Girl,
This letter is written for your mama just as much as it is written for you. Why? Because we’re in this journey together; because there are countless little girls who grew up without anyone telling them or reminding them what I’m about to tell you:
You weren’t created to fit into a mold. You are woman, intimately created to uniquely reflect your maker; and you are beautiful, dear child.
If you’re like me, that truth is hard to hear. It seems like a lie because you’ve received quite the opposite message from the world around you. Even for those who grow up in stable families, girlhood is laden with mixed messages and bewildered jealousy of that Lululemon-wearing classmate who is somehow perfect. But my guess is that she, just like you, feels very inadequate at times. That pit-of-your-stomach feeling that says “I’m not good enough” hits all of us.
That’s why I want you to know how much of a lie it is.
You Weren’t Created to Fit Into a Mold
As I see it, the quintessential Christian woman is a soft-spoken homemaker with a gentle temperament and a simple confidence. That’s the kind of Proverbs 31 woman we often picture.
And yet, that’s not how many of us were made. I, for instance, am more of a spitfire. I feel deeply, live intrepidly, wound easily, and very much dislike makeup. For many years, I thought that these qualities rendered me a feminine fraud. I was angry with God, angry that He had created me wrong. I wondered things that you may have wondered and no doubt will: where does this leave me in the landscape of womanhood?
If we scrape away the layers of cultural expectation and religious rhetoric, those wonderfully-special qualities you’re ashamed of are far from an indicator that you’ll never be a “real” woman. They’re marks that you are one.
God created you as a woman and there is an amazing role you get to play as a woman. At the same time, He did not create all women the same. There are passionate leaders, studious learners, wistful dreamers, and calculated doers. Just like you, these little girls were created with special gifts that will help them do all that God has called them to do. As you grow, you’ll learn from them just like they’ll learn from you. Together, we’ll be a team of ladies who loves Jesus better because of, not in spite of, our differences.
You Are Beautiful
Do you have a twirly dress? Whenever my mom took me to buy a dress as a child, I insisted on spinning around in the dressing room to test a dress’s twirly-ness. Why? Because twirly dresses made me feel beautiful.
During your life, people will tell you that it’s bad to want to feel beautiful. But I’m telling you: they are wrong. God created beauty–in you and around you. When you truly embrace the truth that God made you beautiful (inside and out), it doesn’t birth a vain self-love that we see in movies. It actually gives way to greater humility and love for Jesus, who made you to image His far-surpassing beauty to the world.
If you’re like most girls, though, you struggle to feel beautiful at all. Guess what? I’ve felt that way too, and I still do. I still remember crying in a locker room after a high school teammate told me that my breasts were large compared to a “normal” runner. I took her comment to mean that I was abnormal; that I was wrong. If I could go back, I would tell myself what I’m telling you: that girl was wrong. There is no “normal.” God decides what’s beautiful, He makes beauty, and He made YOU (Psalm 139).
My disdain for my body started long before that day in the locker room though. It actually started when I was your age. And as I grew, it became a constant reminder of the imperfection I was scared of. By no fault of its own, my body has experienced far too little love. It’s been tugged along as I’ve learned what it looks like to love myself for who God made me to be–imperfectly beautiful on the inside and imperfectly beautiful on the outside. Imperfection is a side effect of being human. We can’t avoid it.
I’m still learning that, and I know it’s something you will get to learn too. But I want you to be a step ahead of where I was. I want you to know that it’s not okay to (1) establish standards for your physical appearance that God didn’t establish or (2) use your body as a punching bag when you’re hurting inside. It’s not okay and it won’t work. God designed you to find your identity and your healing in Him alone (Psalm 16:11).
You Are Dearly Loved
I’m learning that womanhood is less like a skyline and more like a sunrise. In other words: we aren’t created to measure up to the building next to us, always craning our necks to see if we are bigger and better than those around us. We were created beautifully; we just have to be. That’s all it takes for the world to see our beauty and see Christ in that beauty (Eph. 2:10).
Consider this: the God who orchestrates every sunrise and sunset made you. Your jovial laugh or quiet giggle were intentionally crafted. He smiled as He gave you powerful thighs, dainty fingers, sweeping shoulders, or a freckled nose. He smiled. And guess what? He is still smiling because He loves what He created. He loves you.
Little girl (and not so little girl), do not disdain your womanhood.
A big sister