Muddy water rolls onto the rocky shore like waves of hope, and I count my blessings with the rhythm of the surf: this perfect day with cerulean skies and just the right placement of high cirrus clouds, sailboats on the horizon, these rolling green hills that speak of life and abundance, a date with a six-year-old, and the fact that she begged me to bring her to this place with a Bible. It’s almost too much to really believe this is my child and my life.
I watch her as she watches the waves beside me. She’s past the age of hurling rocks and sticks for entertainment. Today she simply wants to watch the boats and the clouds drift by.
I pray for words that might capture this moment and speak truth into the deepest recesses of her being. I want to make the most of the moment, make it teachable, and be intentional.
Her delicate hair dances in the wind, and she looks right through me with penetrating eyes. She wants to know what I’m thinking about. I tell her I was watching her watch the waves, and I think she’s beautiful. I tell her I’m so grateful for this time together.
That’s when I remember. I remember Ann’s words from this morning:
“The world will say they will love you if you’re beautiful —but the truth is you’re beautiful because you are loved. “God Loves YOU. He who is Love loves you unconditionally. Living as one truly loved and cherished by God is the cross- beam that supports an abundant life in Christ. Belovedness is the center of being, the only real identity, God’s only name for you, the only identity He gives you. And you won’t ever feel like you belong anywhere until you choose to listen to your heart beating out that you do—unconditionally, irrevocably.” ~Ann Voskamp
My daughter is beautiful because she is loved. She’ll face bullies in the days to come. She’ll face boys who will promise to love her if she’s beautiful, but how can I teach her that it’s not the love of boys or the admiration that comes from other women that makes a woman beautiful. A woman is beautiful because she’s loved by God.
I want her to know who she is without hesitation. She’s not simply pretty or smart or funny. She’s not defined by her social status, her hobbies, or her aspirations. Before all of these things, she is first beloved. Belovedness is the center of her being, her only real identity, and God’s name for her. How can I teach her this?
I open the Bible on my lap to Romans, and I tell her: “God demonstrates his love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. This is how we know for sure that we are beautiful: God showed us that we are beautiful and beloved when he sent his Son to die for us. This is the ultimate act of love. You are beautiful because of this.”
I think of the labels with which I’ve defined myself: athlete, teacher, backpacker, wife, mother. I remember when the injury happened, and I could no longer call myself an athlete. I remember walking away from my career to pursue full-time parenting, and I could no longer call myself a teacher. I remember the day I realized it had been six years since I’d worn the old Kelty backpack into the mountains, and I could no longer call myself a backpacker. What then?
What do we do with all the labels that are eventually stripped away? Who am I if it’s all stripped away?
Ann’s words ring true: The only identity that never changes is the identity that says I am beloved.
Blaise Pascal said it this way: “Not only do we know God through Jesus Christ, but we only know ourselves through Jesus Christ.”
I tell my girl that the only part of her that can never be stripped away is the love of Christ that is sealed over her life. No matter where she goes, no matter what she faces, she is still beloved. There’s no need to prove herself to the world or make much of her life for the sake of a simple label. She is free to live and love as one who is fully defined by the love of Christ.
She crawls onto my lap and listens intently. “Does this make sense?” I ask.
“Yes,” she says, “God loves me, just because I’m his.”
I kiss her damp hair. “Yes, just because you’re his.”
For more thoughts on parenting, sign up for your free copy of 22 Questions Your Kids Need You to Ask