15 Jan 2013

On Skinny Jeans, Daughters, and Singleness

Women amaze me. How strong they are. How un-ordinary. How brave. For an hour last night I sweated completely out of time to the Latin beats of a Zumba class and it was wildly uncoordinated fun. I was terribly bad at it. But I caught a glimpse in the mirror and my face was hot, flushed, grinning.

There was the young Hispanic girl with the electric blue spandex, black curly hair loose and sweating tendrils down her back. So beautiful. So unnecessarily at the gym. So perfectly in time. There was the grandma with the relentless commitment to seeing every step down, every beat clapped, every sip of water at the breaks. There was the teenager next to me so breathlessly young and fit with her eyeliner smudged and hair long enjoying learning the moves alongside us all. The two friends who must have been coming for weeks, the accountant in front of me who had the moves of a dancer, the Asian mom who put us all to shame, the instructor cheering and laughing us all on.

These women, oh the glory.

The nothing ordinary in a room full of life givers, joy raisers, laundry folders, world changers.

Beautiful. Beloved. Women.

I am raising a daughter and I want her to laugh strong in her body and celebrate it rather than dread it or hide from it or try to turn it inside out. I pray this over her while she sleeps. I pray she grows to recognize the glory of her sex beyond the ability to shimmy into a pair of skinny jeans.

And while she grows I’m leaning in and listening to the daughters of other mothers. I am becoming a student of young women because I don’t speak their language and I need to learn.

Hilary is teaching me. Hilary in her freshly graduated twenties teaches me how to see the world through my baby daughter’s eyes. It looks a bit like this…

….When I graduated from college in May, I got lots of hugs and kisses. I got fun cards that played “Pomp and Circumstance” when you opened them. I got a nice dinner with two professors I love and Flannery O’Connor books. People showered me with wonderful gifts, with care and congratulations and Starbucks gift cards.

But it turns out you don’t get a how-to book for your life.

People don’t give you a step-by-step through finding jobs and losing jobs or moving home again or worrying about paying your car insurance. They don’t walk you through disappointment and changing plans and no plans and everyone wondering (and worrying) that you don’t have a plan.

They don’t give you a guide book on how to understand your own feelings about your best friend or brother or coworker suddenly having the marvelous and perfect boyfriend/girlfriend while you eat dinner with your parents and wonder if your skinny jeans will still fit. 

Some days it feels like my whole world is dating. There’s a heart icon permanently displayed on my Facebook sidebar announcing different engagements and relationships and marriages. Just underneath it, Facebook has kindly offered to help me meet Christian single men and buy eco-friendly rings. Some nights I page through the latest wedding albums sitting in my pajamas and eating my way through a bag of peppermint bark.

Some days I walk around with a pit in the stomach because I’m not going ice skating on Frog Pond with the other cute twenty somethings, or making crafts together, or smiling sneakily at each other about mistletoe and what-that-means at all the parties that we go to, because we have someone to go with and therefore don’t have to stand alone in the corner picking lint of our sweaters and drinking too much champagne

And when it feels like the world starts dating, it’s easy to walk around with that pit in your stomach, watching the couples line up for their glamorous and messy lives of togetherness. There is a familiar sting of embittered, of lonely, of despair. There is that lingering question, always there at the back of your heart: why not me?

I told God one afternoon when I was wriggling into a pair of skinny jeans that I call my life lonely. I call my life everything that my best friend and brother and coworker have found, and I haven’t. I name all the things that I wanted desperately alongside those friends and siblings, all the shared tears over chai lattes, all the dreams about boyfriends, and ice skating on Frog Pond.

Maybe it was catching sight of myself in the mirror that day, in those skinny jeans with the bangs I still haven’t figured out how to style, make-up-less. Maybe it was just that I’d stopped talking long enough for His voice to sneak in a few words. But for a moment, I listened.

And God said,

But I name your life beautiful.
I name your life blessed, a good work in good hands.
I name your life full.
I name your life breathtaking and irreplaceable, right now, right here in those skinny jeans in this house in this job, in this singleness, in this day.
I name your life all the things you need.

I name you Mine.

He doesn’t tell me how to feel when other people start dating and I don’t. He doesn’t give me a how to guide to keep me safe from failing in big and small ways.

But He names me His.

And maybe that’s the point of it all, anyway. The point of the relationships and the moving back home and the nights of wondering and the peppermint-bark-eating marathons and the tearful goodbyes and standing alone at a party in the corner and the love we fall into and the one we’re waiting for.

All of this life is because He first loved and He forever loves us in the everyday of our lives, even when we don’t.

That’s the guidebook: love, because He first and forever loves.

Love,

Hilary

Comments

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  1. 1

    I love Hilary’s earnest words at The Wild Love, and I love finding them here, paired with your words, Lisa-Jo. So much goodness here – to learn from the daughters and hear the truth again for my own forgetful self. Beautiful.

  2. 2

    this is beautiful. Your friend sounds so wise :)

    I’m the mama of a little baby girl as well, and it’s quite frankly, terrifying! I don’t even feel like I know what it is to be a confident woman yet, and I am facing the daunting task of raising one. It’s scary, and it reminds me to pray. because I have no idea what I’m doing. I wasn’t nervous like this with my boy, I guess I feel like he has his daddy to look to, and I will be so happy if he follows in his daddy’s footsteps. But for my daughter, to follow mine, when I’m not even sure who I am yet. that’s kinda scary.

    I like that you are studying other women/daughters to know what to do. Maybe I should start doing that too! to know what to do, and to learn for myself!

    love your posts. I’m a common lurker but don’t always comment (Sorry) but your words are always encouraging to me.
    <3 paula

    • 3

      I have felt the EXACT same, Paula. Amazed how my boys didn’t bring out this kind of panicked “she’ll be following in my footsteps” feeling. It makes sense though. And it has me working my way through my own stuff, so that come some day, Zoe won’t have to carry it – she will be free to embrace her womanhood, to celebrate it, to revel in it eve :)

  3. 4

    I remember being single, young, lonely, desperate, and so vulnerable. For me, my twenties were filled with hard life lessons, usually centered around learning to love & accept who I was. I also remember feeling free and thinking what will my life be. Very touching post.

  4. 5

    Yes, yes and yes!! This is so beautifully written! Such excellent thoughts! Thanks for sharing you heart with us, Hilary. It’s beautiful and oh so familiar.

    Keep on in your path, lovely lady! Your name shall be called blessed.

  5. 6

    This post reminds me of this song, “I will change your name” by Eden’s Bridge. I love how God has changed our names. This song resonates with me every time I hear it. Here are the lyrics:

    I will change, will change your name I will change, will change your name

    I will change your name You shall no longer be called Wounded, outcast, lonely or afraid

    I will change your name Your new name shall be Confidence, joyfulness, overcoming one Faithfulness, friend of God One who seeks My face

  6. 7

    This is just beautiful. I need these reminders that I have the guidebook I need. Thank you, Lisa-Jo and Hilary.

  7. 8

    What a beautiful perspective she has. He does call us HIS and He does call us beautiful! I’m due to have our 3rd baby in 10 weeks and I needed this reminder today. Thank you!

  8. 9

    Beautiful! God calls our lives beautiful in spite of the ways we struggle, the worries we hang on to, the sighs and the what ifs. Whether we’re 20 with a small one or 50 with an empty nest. That’s a thought I’m going to carry in my heart as I fall asleep tonight.

  9. 10

    Bravo!! I stand and cheer you, sweet Hilary! Not for graduating, or parenting, but pulling up your big girl panties and facing the reality that YOU ARE LOVED. YOU are HIS! You may not know what your purpose is, but He DOES have one! (I still am figuring that out, and I’m -hm hm- over 50).
    If you ever need a place to contemplate and a little mommying with no history (I don’t know what your room looked like in jr high) I’m here. There’s room. Come on by…we will solve all the world’s problems in an afternoon, and pray about what the Lord has for us “tomorrow”.

    Lisa-Jo – thanks for sharing your space with Hilary…she’s blessed to have you around… (and enjoy your Zumba-ing!! Love it!! I need to start again…actually loaded the dvd player with 3 Zumba, 1 Salsa and 2 Bollywood exercise dvd’s. Then I couldn’t figure the cords out in back to make it work! LOL! Maybe tomorrow. Or maybe the treadmill.) :)

  10. 11

    Hilary at times when I was reading your story it – I thought – I feel the same way. Keep walking boldly in who you are, for God is preparing someone special to entrust your heart with. He is worth the wait. Thanks Lisa – Jo for sharing your space with Hilary … you both spoke directly into my heart today.

  11. 12

    Gawgeous. I needed this today, twenty years ago and tomorrow. Thanks!

  12. 13

    A-m-a-z-zi-n-g. Hilary, have we somehow met? ;) (I spent 3 winters and summers near Frog Pond. And I hop the cloud in two days to return for a brief moment of memories and lessons.)

    Lisa-Jo, you always seem to hone in on hearts and truth. Hilary, we’ve become friends, I’m just letting you know. :) I’m a 20s graduate myself, and I’m thankful in so many ways. How I will pray as if we were sipping lattes across the table. Because I hear you. I resonate. I am you fellow sister of the sojourned alter-life. A life spent alternatively than what others expect from us, whether they mean to or not. There are many who think they know how one in our “status”, in our “age bracket” should be living. And oh how faceted our colors! They see matte, but how we sparkle and gleam and reflect more than just primary lifestyles. HE is the artist, His Son, the brush, His Spirit the canvas…we are the art at the end of the day.

    Beautiful.

    THANK you both, for sharing.

  13. 14

    This is gorgeous. Teared up over here at the thought that HE names ME. Not just Kaitlyn, but beautiful and so many other pretty words. And He gives those words to each of us. What a relief that I can stop naming my current life and He can instead.

    I’m going to agree with His naming of my life today. Blessed, full, breathtaking.

  14. 15

    Hillary, I’m a 32 year old mom of 3 and your words today spoke straight.to.my.heart. I need your reminder that God loves me now, anyway, despite the flaws, and in spite of my best failed intentions. I am trying desperately to bring up my daughters knowing that God loves them in this way and yet I myself find it so hard to accept that he loves Me in this way too. Thank you for your courage to share your heart.

    God bless and keep you always.

    x lauren

  15. 16

    ah, hilary–and this is why i started reading your stuff in the first place. and i need to get back to your place again!
    beautiful. beautiful you! love your heart and the ways that God reveals Himself to it.
    thank you so much for sharing it with the rest of us. this, as with so many of your writings, is a keeper that i’m storing up for my girls.
    have a blessed day!
    steph

  16. 17

    beautiful!! Oh how He loves us <3 I'm a newbie to youth ministry and this blessed my heart as I think about not only my own two daughters but the many that I call mine in youth group. Thank you for sharing this!!

  17. 18

    You write so beautifully…Thank you…

  18. 19

    Wonderful, wonderful! Thank you for this bit of beauty anyone can relate too…even this 40 something married mama of two. You both inspire and encourage me. THANK YOU.

  19. 20

    Beautiful post!

    But I have a question to ask you- you mentioned the “Hispanic girl” and then the “grandma” and “teenager” but you did not specify race for the grandma and teenager so my question is- Were the grandma and teenager White? I see this ALL the time in books and magazines and TV, it’s just automatically assumed that the character or person you’re talking about is White and when they aren’t the writer/presenter/journalist/whoever is talking from their point of view feels the need to make distinctions like “Hispanic” or “Black” or “East Indian” or “olive skin”…I mean you probably have never noticed this but I’m just pointing it out because as a minority, we see it every day and it makes you feel like what English literature professors call “the other”. Feeling like “the other” in society is not a good feeling at all makes you feel like a second class citizen if a citizen at all. Just thought I would make you aware of that fact.

    • 21

      Thank you for sharing this perspective. Exploring issues of race, race relations and racism up here in Canada at peopleschoicemovement.com as well as other social justice issues affecting all Canadians of all ages.

      My husband is hispanic – a brown person. When I don’t mention this to others (I’m a white-appearing person), they are shocked when they find out the difference in our skin colour and mention this as though it is important.

      It is interesting to note that the black and hispanic population is growing in North America at an unprecedented rate. One day, whites will be considered ‘other’. I too, find that I write with this race identification mode when I find it necessary to point out to others that we are all together joined to effect change, otherwise, readers will assume (I think) that I’m speaking from a ‘white-only’ perspective.

      And, I use the term white-appearing for myself loosely. Although I/we may appear to be white, we really can’t be certain without DNA testing where another ‘race’ may have intersected our bloodlines. We could be anyone, couldn’t we? And, when I say this, some white people look either perplexed, upset or angry.

      I hope that one day the assumed privilege of being ‘white’ will be replace with a gentler viewpoint that is more inclusive to everyone. One day I hope the assumed privilege of being thin will also be replaced with something gentler that includes all woman of all sizes.

  20. 22

    I heart Hilary’s words so very much. Paired with your own encouragement to thump to the beat of life, even if it IS uncoordinated… that’s what God wants for us. That’s what I want for myself and my sweet daughter. Thank you for sharing your words and Hilary’s tender heartfelt longing to remember He calls us loved. Hallelujah to that!

  21. 23

    Lovely, lovely post. I had a lump in my throat reading it because I can still so vividly recall having those same feelings in my 20s. I never, ever thought (or maybe truly trusted and believed) that I would find love — a wonderful husband, beautiful kids. But I did. As my mother has always said, “You don’t know what’s ahead for you, what’s just around the bend. Have faith.”

  22. 24

    Lord have mercy. Yes.

  23. 25

    This is for Hilary

    I see your picture holding that sweet baby girl and I see myself holding my sweet baby girl, too. I was a twenty-something single woman with a sweet baby girl, too, wondering whether I would find love. Feeling lonely, embittered at times, grief would wash over me with a yearning for companionship when I would see happy couples that would simply ache.

    I believed that no man would want a woman with a child/children and believed that I would never find love or companionship and would be destined to be alone forever. After some time, I began to see what was good about being on my own – a sense of accomplishment, thrill and an adrenaline high knowing that although this was crazy tough being a single mom, I was doing it – messily, but doing it. I would consider the couples who wanted children and could not. I felt lucky.

    Eventually, I decided that life was just fine without the companionship of a man and I connected with others in volunteering who had the same passions I did for community care and community service. This led to meeting the man I am married to today. We have been together for 15 years and have three more beautiful children.

    And while it is wonderful to have the companionship of a committed partner, there are days that I miss many things about being a single mom!

    I remember my mom giving me this advice and I pass it along often to young single moms. She said, ‘Live your life now. This is your life. You think that your life will only begin when you find a man to re-marry, but this is your life. Live it. Life is too short. You don’t want to discover that too late.’ My mom was right. I see your picture and see your youth and all the lovely years ahead. When you get older the years behind may be larger than the years ahead. This is too late to discover what was beautiful about who you are now.

    I see your beauty and the beauty of that sweet baby girl. Cherish these years. My baby girl is turning thirty this year. You can’t get those years back – only the memories. And they will be beautiful memories.

    You are soooo lucky to be young and holding that sweet baby. There will be days of frustration, exhaustion, yearning for another life, but then just look at your sleeping babe and remind yourself that it is only for awhile and this too shall pass.

    Thank you for sharing your photos and thoughts. Your story is a wonderful reminder to me of what I cherished so long ago – years ahead and time with a little one.

  24. 26

    Wow. I could say I was brought here via Ann Voskamp and a link she posted on Twitter, but I’m pretty sure I was brought here by God today. Because He knew you would be speaking the words of my heart Hillary.

    I’m 37 (very soon to be 38) and single. And I’ve spent a lot of my life not noticing, not caring, or perhaps just not admitting to myself my single status. But recently I’m all too aware. And I feel you. The sitting in the corner pulling lint from your sweater bits. The hearts on my facebook wall announcing engagements and babies from people I USED TO BABYSIT. And oh, how I have always wanted to take a romantic skate on Frog Pond, and have yet to make it there. (I went to school in Boston and live outside the city now).

    And your conversation with God, calling yourself lonely. I’ve done that, recently, I’ve had that talk with God myself. I’ve asked Him “WHY NOT ME?” more times lately than I’d care to admit to myself.

    And His response to you? I read it as if He was speaking to me. Because I believe He was, and He has, used those same words or similar yet completely different words. Ways of letting me know He has a purpose for me, and I AM His Beloved. And in those moments, it all makes sense, even if it doesn’t the rest of the time.

    Oh, I so needed this post this morning. You can’t even begin to imagine how much.

    thank you for your honest words Hillary.

    • 27

      Thank you so much, Sonia. Your sweet comment just made my whole day. You are His beloved – I pray you’ll walk through today bursting with that knowledge.

  25. 28

    Thank you so much for sharing your heart, Hilary! God has great things planned for you!

  26. 29

    love that you didn’t hold back and shared transparently from your heart. you ROCK!

  27. 30

    Love! Thank you Hilary!

  28. 31

    The thing is, there is a kind of loneliness in every stage of life and there will always be people that have things that others do not. I get incredibly lonely sometimes and I have a husband and 5 children. My loneliness probably looks different than yours (because mine is so noisy) but I actually envy my single friends sometimes because they get to go out with other girlfriends, go dancing, see movies, read great books, have a quiet moment or two to think, exercise when they want to etc. It’s all a matter of perspective. Love your thoughts and your words. Thanks for sharing your heart.

  29. 32

    Beautifully written, Hilary. So fun seeing your words in another space! I love God’s message to you. That’s something we all need to let sink down deep.

  30. 33

    I loved this. Like you, I look around at women of all sizes with all different hair styles, personalities and gifts and call them all beautiful. Yet when I look in the mirror I berate myself for not being the perfect picture found on the cover of a magazine. I am praying through this. Even at 35 it is something I have to lay at His feet every day. I am now praying for my 2 year old daughter, that she will see the beauty He sees in her every day. I know she will struggle (just like Hilary – just like we all do) but I pray that she hears the voice of God instead of the voice of her enemy. Thank you for this lovely post.

  31. 34

    Oh, this is so beautiful. So true.

  32. 35

    such a beautiful and tender post, Hilary. Your heart for the God who loves you without end is inspiring and precious. Praying you’d know that again and again, every day, without fail– how lovely your life is to Him, and how beautiful you are out there on your own in this season. May His overwhelming love envelope you, filling all the spaces where you long. Beautiful, my wise and wonderful writer-friend.

  33. 36

    I name your life beautiful…wow. That put tears in my eyes.

  34. 37

    I loved those words! Funny…. I am a ZUMBA instructor. I loved the perspective from a 20 year old. Interestingly, I did not feel the way she did about dating because I was with my high school sweetheart–now husband. But I want my girls to go through what she is describing because I think it makes you stronger and it allows you to look to God and not a man, job or friends for security.

  35. 38

    Hilary took the words and thoughts I’ve experienced over the past year and strung them together so simply beautifully. Thank you for this powerful reminder.

  36. 39

    Ah Lisa Jo, you are being a wonderful mama to a blessed daughter that you want and desire to know the ways to guide her in God’s truth. And what an amazing thing to get to see it in Hilary. Hilary, I am a few steps behind you. I am again single, again asking where to find the guidebook to life, and again praying to hear just what the next step is. I’m so glad you’re falling in love, because you are right that the purpose is to fall in love with the One who loved first.

  37. 40

    Oh my word. How I’ve missed your blog. Wish I was wise as your sweet Hilary when I was younger. That fits anyone, at any age.

  38. 41

    This really spoke to my heart! I feel this way so often, it’s such an encouragement to read how God spoke to Hillary and to know that it’s true for me as well. Sometimes the best thing to hear is that you’re not alone and that there is someone else in exactly the same spot, and that it’s totally normal! Now…I’m going to go shopping for some skinny jeans! :)

  39. 42

    Hi Hilary,
    I loved this blog post. A friend of mine started following Lisa Jo’s blog and it has become one of my favorites. Since I read your post, I have started following your blog and I love your heart of sincerity. Thank you for daring to be real and for sharing your life with others so freely and openly. I wrote a blog post in honor of my single friends, and I had a thought that I should share this post with you. I remember those days so clearly. I honor your journey and I thank you for sharing your heart through your writing. Thank you again!! <3 If you are interested, I am attaching the link to my blog. I am new to the blog world and started one this year. I call it Living in the Light. Sending much love your way from a sister in Christ!

    http://everydayencourager.blogspot.com/2013/03/my-dear-single-sisters.html

Trackbacks

  1. […] at Lisa-Jo’s space, and I would love it if you’d visit me over that way? Just click here. And if you have a question for me to ponder with you? Just email me: letterstohilary@gmail.com […]

  2. […] On Skinny Jeans, Daughters, and Singleness – guest post by Hilary at lisajobaker.com He doesn’t tell me how to feel when other people start dating and I don’t. He doesn’t give me a how to guide to keep me safe from failing in big and small ways. […]

  3. […] Hilary shares of her struggles to find her way in the real world, loneliness, and being called beautiful by God as she thinks  On Skinny Jeans, Daughters, and Singleness, […]

  4. […] On Skinny Jeans, Daughters and Singleness (Lisa-Jo Baker – Tales from a Gypsy Mama) He doesn’t tell me how to feel when other people start dating and I don’t. He doesn’t give me a how to guide to keep me safe from failing in big and small ways. […]

  5. […] winter I wrote this post for Lisa-Jo, about how I wondered if my skinny jeans would still fit while I ate my way through a […]

  6. […]        Lisa-Jo Baker’s Blog […]

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