Our family is off to the lake and the woods on vacation this week. Where there’s no Internet. So I’m sharing five of my favorite posts from the last couple years while I’m gone. I hope they’ll be favorites for you too. Wishing you watermelon afternoons and sand between the toes.
Zoe, I have worried a long time that I would not be a good mother to a daughter.
I carry a blue suitcase stuffed full of the heavy memories I wish my own mom had done differently. And Sunday morning the lock on that suitcase breaks right open and explodes onto the bed in a riot of insecurity between the four different outfits I made you try on before Church.
My heart is pounding and I can feel it – the impending sense of letting you down. How many nights have I whispered into the deep blue of your eyes how beautiful I think you are? I say it now, at the beginning of things, so that your life will be colored with those words. So there will be no doubt in your mind that your mother thought you beautiful. I have held tight to those words like a seal I could put over your heart, before any boy could get there. Before any other words could find their way into the door of you – I wanted “beautiful” to be sealed up tight in the house of your heart.
I know firsthand the ways to splinter a daughter’s heart with that one word.
So I am panicked because today of all days old splinter scars throb as I try to choose clothes for you, my beautiful daughter. You need the right clothes because today I must put on Hannah’s shoes and walk into the house of God and give you back to Him.
I am terrified I will get it wrong.
I am terrified that here at the beginning of moments in your life that matter I will be at a loss to dress you on the outside with the beauty that lives on the inside. That I will fail this test of mothering a daughter. I am not the girl with fashion sense. I am the girl with the brothers and the dead mother and I don’t know how to do right by you when it comes to clothes.
Why should it matter? I hear myself asking as I toss the short sleeved gingham pink dress with the tiny cross stitch flowers aside. Why do I care so much that the white dress with the scalloped edges is too wide around your arms and the onesie underneath is the wrong color?
Who cares? Who cares? It’s just clothing!
But it’s not. It’s years of wondering how the popular girls blow dried their hair so effortlessly and managed to wear jeans that showed off all the right curves, while I drowned in sizes always too big, too awkward, too ordinary on my too thin and bony frame.
Whether or not people thought I was beautiful I rarely felt beautiful.
I am desperate to give you a better head start at the race against the world’s opinion of women. Your mother will be the one to cement the word “beauty” into the foundation of who you are so that come the teenage years, come acne and growth spurts, cliques and boys you will not doubt that your beauty is deeper than all of that.
My daughter. How has God trusted me with this great weight of responsibility? I am afraid I will fail Him and you on Sunday morning because I cannot seem to pick the right thing for you to wear.
We dedicate you.
We dedicate you back to Jesus.
And I stand in a row of people I love and who’ve known me since before I knew your father. And even though I chose right and the pale pink skirt that drapes all the way down to your pink Mary Janes is perfect, we sing the words that put everything we wear into the proper perspective:
He made you. He made you, so you are good. No matter what your mother does or doesn’t do. I stand with my arms so full of the weight of His goodness that they ache and there’s an imprint forming on my inner arm.
I hold a small world in my arms and I celebrate the God that made her and called her good. And in that moment I am at peace with being your mother and you being my daughter and I whisper to my mom, “Look, I have a girl. Look.” The eighteen years since she died wash away in the worship and I know she knows what I am feeling.
I have a daughter.
I have a daughter.
I will mother a girl child and it will be a wonder.
And right then, the words of the God who made all three of us come up on the screen and the world makes sense as the Father God whispers to us, His daughters,
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you?”
And I hear it, the Zulu word that echoes from across the ocean and home.
We are beautiful.