From the moment I found out I was pregnant with you, I began to pray for you to have eyes to see yourself with the eyes of your Creator. When I found out I would be having a girl, I was filled with both overwhelming delight and undeniable fear. In a world that continues to become more and more consumed with the physical appearance of women and the pressures to be beautiful, to be thin, to be youthful, and to be perfect… the burden of teaching you to truly love yourself feels a little bit like trying to swim up a waterfall with both of my hands tied behind my back.
I dread the day when you may look in the mirror and frown, discovering for the first time something about yourself you don’t like in your reflection. It breaks my heart, because right now in your precious innocence, your eyes light up when you catch a glimpse of your reflection and you are filled with nothing but delight in who you are and who He has made you to be.
My darling girl, you are absolutely beautiful. It literally takes my breath away. But I hope and pray that your physical beauty will grow to be the least interesting thing about you and will rank very low on the totem pole of values you place on yourself.
As I watch you delight in your reflection, I grieve a little as I remember the often never-ending battles in my mind I faced with my own self-image. Honestly, I still struggle with some of the thoughts even now. But watching you delight in yourself and who you were created to be is teaching me to delight in myself, too. You and I, my sweet girl, are both fearfully and wonderfully made. We were created in His image, imperfectly flawless in every way, and He takes great delight in us.
You have challenged me to be intentional about the words I speak and the thoughts I entertain about myself, my appearance, and my body. If I want you to have a positive self image, I must be intentional and do the hard work of taking my own thoughts captive and renewing my mind daily. The greatest weapon I have to help you in the battles you will face is to model healthy self-image for you. It is not lost on me that I will be your first teacher and possibly your greatest influence as you grow and develop into a woman. My body has changed since carrying you and your brother and I am aging more and more every day. Change is sometimes difficult to accept, but I am choosing to see the changes in my body as beautiful reminders of the gifts my body has given me through its incredible strength and protection to nourish you, help you grow, and keep you safe. Each day I grow older is one more day I get to spend on this earth with you and your brother. The more I age, the longer my life with you, and I will always be grateful for that. I am learning more and more each day that our bodies are not our identity- they are merely the vessels we have been given to carry our souls and to do the work of His Kingdom and are the least interesting thing about us. I pray I can teach you to love the vessel you’ve been given to journey through this life, and to treat it always with love, compassion, and kindness.
I know I cannot protect you from the pressures of the world you will grow up in. The social media culture, the traps of comparison, and the pressures of society to be “beautiful”, to be thin, to be wrinkle and stretch mark free, and to chase an impossible beauty standard that changes and grows more unreachable every single day. Undoubtedly, I am sure there will be times where you will compare yourself to someone else. Our society and culture will likely continue to tell you and other young girls that you need to fit into a box or a standard, and that in order to be relevant and have value that you should be or look a certain way.
I pray that I can give you the foundation you will need to one day stand tall and courageously against the standards of society, fiercely loving every part of yourself in a world that will encourage you to pick yourself apart. I am sure I will not be able to do it perfectly and I am sure I won’t always do or say the right things, but I hope I can always be a safe place for you to process your feelings- the delights and joys of life as well as the trials and hardships, including those you may face with your own self-image. I will commit to navigate through all of this with you, and we will be on this journey together. You are already teaching me what I hope to be able to teach you and show you over time as you grow older.
I pray that you will wake up each day wanting to look like YOU. I pray you will always be able to look at your reflection in the mirror and delight in the perfectly designed masterpiece that God created you to be. His fingerprints are all over you. Every cell in your body has been intentionally and lovingly created by Him, and I pray you will be filled with awe and wonder at the way you’ve been crafted.
My darling, you are absolutely beautiful. But I pray that your physical beauty will always be the least interesting thing about you.
Photos by Kat Joseph