Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Frustrated Nursemaid and the Thanksgiving Feast, A.K.A.: The Battle of the Braids

This morning, with mounting agitation, I attempted to get my girls dressed in new, hand-me-down clothing and to put braids in their hair to make them look like little Indians for their Thanksgiving Feast at preschool. They never keep any braids or ponytails in their hair for long…(I think the record is 15 minutes) so I don’t know why I was surprised and subsequently disappointed when my one daughter went in the other room and almost immediately took her braids out while I was doing the other one’s hair. It could be because I don’t do their hair very often or the fact that their hair was the ONLY thing that helped them to look remotely like little Indian girls, or the fact that they were up early again at 6 a.m. or that I’m pregnant and starting to get uncomfortable, but I was stressing and got frustrated with them.

The girl that hadn't taken her braids out emphasized that SHE had kept hers in, while looking pointedly at her sister. I tried to take a picture of the braided one and the other girl, who had taken hers out jumped in next to her sister to be in it too. They both felt pretty in their “new” clothes. As I looked through the camera screen trying to center the shot, I complimented the one who had KEPT her hair in and told her she looked pretty, the face of the other one FELL and I could tell immediately that I had injured her sensitive spirit by not including her in the compliment. I tried to tell her she looked pretty too, but the damage was done.

Downstairs, I realized, as their dad was hurriedly and masterfully trying to make cute Indian headbands for his adorable girls that the braided twin wanted to take her braids out too because they “hurt”. I sighed and helped unravel the fruit of my labor. When they were happily at preschool, I sat alone on the couch, stewing in my frustration about why I was so upset this morning.  With a sudden epiphany, I realized that my girls were not at the point where they would sacrifice their comfort for “beauty” and that I should be rejoicing in that thought. Silly Mommy! Rejoice in the integrity of their identities and the relative innocence of their hearts! Precious, precious girls!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Developing Inner-Beauty

Has your child ever caught you off-guard by asking you an embarrassing question, out-of-the-blue? Yeah. The kind of question that you have to pause to answer because you need to carefully craft an answer that is void of emotion yet fraught with plausible know the kind that I mean.

I was climbing out of the shower and my 3.5 year-old was on the toilet reading a book. As I was wrapping myself in a towel, she innocently and calmly asked me, "Mommy, why do your boobies look like that?"

Me: ... "Well, when you breastfeed your babies and go through pregnancy your body changes." I felt the need to sheepishly add, "You know, they didn't ALWAYS look like this." Like I was talking to an adult or something and had to offer an excuse.

Kids notice things about our bodies all the time. They play with the things that squish, jiggle and wobble that make them giggle. Part of me is glad to bring my children some small measure of joy, but a larger part of my heart feels a little defeated. Their innocent remarks are a pointed reminder that I am getting older and decaying day by day. Gravity and age are taking over and the bloom is off my rose. It is a reminder that I must carefully cultivate the spiritual beauty that is found within, because that is ultimately what will glorify God, the ambassador that others will see.

Today at JAM, the speaker was a pastor who was talking about the biblical version of beauty. He spoke about how our self-talk and the things that we meditate on eventually reveal themselves on the outside. Our meditations become a part of our beauty, apart from our physical assets, either adding to or detracting from our witness. He challenged us to develop our inner beauty and to avoid consulting the mirrors of this world that command their own standard of beauty. We should meditate on the fruits of the spirit, the things that make a person truly beautiful, so that our hearts shine through to the world, revealing the image of God, ultimately bringing honor to him. Our secondary consideration is the message we are sending to our husbands. That of, "You are worthy of honor!"

So we try to keep in shape, do our hair and look presentable. These physical pursuits are the outward appearance, while we cultivate our spiritual soil through prayer, bible study and godly pursuits. Through the passage of time our inner beauty will fade, but the outer-beauty will remain and either attract people or repel them. The meditations of our heart, the self-talk we promote and our physical efforts to keep up this temple will send a message to the world. We get to choose it.