A few things led to this post today: a post from a dad to his daughter that she needs to know she is beautiful because she is who God made her to be, a conversation I had with my little girl this morning and a soon-to-be addition to our family.
One of my favorite bloggers – Matt Walsh – posted a letter to his toddler daughter about how he hopes she never buys into the “not good enough” message that is screamed at all of us, but especially our girls today. I can tell you the “not good enough” message was one that wounded my heart more than anything from the day I turned six years old. It’s also the reason I started this blog. It’s a message I want to fight to the death for my girls.
At six, I asked my mom to help me get blond hair and blue eyes because my “supposed” BFF had them. There wasn’t much she could do about the eyes, but I do remember her talking to a stylist about dyeing my hair blond. I think we settled on a body wave (not a good idea for a girl with already voluminous hair), but Mom’s heart was in the right place.
Something I wish I had understood at that age was that the opinion of others wasn’t the one we should seek. My mom is a people pleaser, and so am I. It’s a gift, but it’s also a weakness. My mom and my dad tried their hardest to overcome that weakness with positive reinforcement, but they couldn’t always compete with the lies we girls believe about ourselves.
As Matt says in his letter to his little girl, “Many of us want to be desirable to everyone, even and especially those we don’t know. We want them to feel something when they look our way.”
I really don’t want that attitude for my two girls, but I see the seeds starting to grow in my first – the self-awareness that eats a girl up.
Just this morning, my sweet girl asked me jovially if I liked her hair, her hands, her hips, her feet, her clam claws, her muscles. She was being silly, but I can see these connections forming in her mind. The seeking approval.
She is always fawning over her daddy to get his reinforcement. And he does a beautiful job of it. He’s very aware that she needs his approval and his attention in a way I can’t provide.
Finally, I’ve noticed a few things about my two kids this week that are absolutely a result of our upcoming family addition. They both want to cling to me.
RL wants to go back to baby days and be held and snuggled to sleep. Logan just wants to be a baby. He is a baby, but he’s torn between the decision to be a toddler and a lap baby.
It’s hard on them, but I’ll tell you it’s hard on my heart.
I can see the joy of them growing up together. I can see the love they will have for each other in the coming years. I can see the future.
They don’t have the cognitive ability to see it yet. They don’t have the wisdom and the belief that they are unique and loved for whom they are stored in their hearts.
It’s taking everything in my tired, bloated pregnant being to be kind and gentle with them. What I really want to do is snap at them and tell them to grow up. But that will continue to help them feed into the insecurities they both feel about not knowing the future and how a new baby will make them feel.
So, I’m holding my tongue (as much as possible) and loving on them and guiding them toward independence and acceptance of their new life with their new sister.
The boy I’m not too worried about. He won’t remember most of this time. But for our girl, I’m being deliberate about letting her know what a treasure she is to us, to those around her and to God.
Here’s a little story I wrote for her about a year ago; one that I hope to add to in the days and months to come.
Once upon a time, there was a mother and a father who wanted a baby. So they prayed to God to give them a child.
God answered because he is good. One February, the mother found out she would be a mommy for the first time. It was a dream come true for this mommy.
She had ideas for the little baby’s room, what she would teach him or her, what she would name him or her.
She dreamed about the child’s smile. The child’s laugh.
Would the baby have blue eyes like her daddy? Or brown eyes like her mommy? Would the baby’s hair be curly? Would the baby have golden locks like the little girl in the story of the three bears?
One warm May afternoon, they visited the doctor to find out whether the baby was a girl or a boy. Within seconds, they saw that they were going to have a princess. A beautiful, perfect princess.
Even though the girl’s family was not of royal blood on this Earth, they will one day be a royal family in God’s kingdom.
Just a few weeks later, the mommy and daddy had a great loss in their life. The daddy’s father passed away. Very suddenly. It was sad and the mommy had a hard time being happy. When she saw the daddy hurting over his father’s death, it made her hurt to her core.
But she couldn’t be sad for long. The day her little princess would be born was fast approaching. And it comforted her that her grandfather knew her name.
Her name was Reagan Leigh. While the mommy and daddy didn’t know God chose the little girl’s name, he did. He wrote the name in the book of her life before she was born.
In his book on how to be a prince or princess in his Kingdom, he says, “All the days ordained for me were written before one of them came to be.”
That includes her name. He named her Reagan – which means regal. That’s a fancy word for royal. And her middle name, Leigh, was an addition insisted on by her mommy.
It’s a beautiful name and given to her as a gift. You see, Reagan Leigh’s mommy received the same gift from her mommy – a name from the person she was closest to as a girl – her sister.
Her mommy’s second name – Carol – means champion. She uses that gift to champion others. Championing others means that you cheer them on. You go forward to fight for them. This girl’s mommy fought every day for her children and family to be the royal family God called them to be.
Mommies treasure their sisters because they are God’s gift to his princesses. Sisters stand up for you. They protect you and they love you more than you will ever know.
And aunts with nieces named after them have a special affection and honor when their name is passed on. They are there to love and protect and pray for that little princess.
Your second name – Leigh. It means healer.
More times than I can count, your namesake – Kristen Leigh – helped the little girl’s mommy heal. She held her hand and was there when it seemed no one else in the world seemed to care. She is someone your mommy can share a secret with and someone who prayed for her and walks with her in this broken world. She’s someone you want to sit by in God’s kingdom.
She was a healer. And the little girl was also given that gift. He chose Reagan Leigh to be a healer to many, many people.
You have a very special job as His princess. Your kind words. Your beautiful smile. Your big personality. All of these pieces of you make you a special, special princess.
As soon as you were born, your mommy and daddy had a first taste of what eternity in God’s kingdom will be like. When your daddy held you, he said, “She’s so sweet.”
And that you are our healing princess. You were given to us at a time when life was broken. We were sad and lost. And you brought us into God’s glory.
You were an answered prayer. A promise that love is the greatest treasure anyone can ever know.
And your heart is full of God’s love. You must remember that.
Your charge as his princess is to go out and bring more people that promise.
How do you do that?
You smile and talk to everyone you meet. You sit next to the crying girl. You help your baby brother giggle when he’s sad. You hug your grandparents like you’ll never see them again. You draw and write your famous cards for those who need a little encouragement or remembrance. You thank God every day that he has put you in his story, right here, right now.
And when the tough times come, please remember that you are God’s princess. He made you just like he wanted you.
He made you strong like your daddy. Caring like your mommy. Funny and full of wonder like your grandfather. But most of all, he made you – you.
A princess. A royal healer sent to Earth to heal people with kindness, love and laughter.