From generation to generation, women desperately hand down this focus. Our brains work intently on this skill, often fulfilled in days of determination (mostly wrapped in guilt) and sometimes even flavored with a drop of exhilaration. We pour our resources, our hopes, our emotions and our hearts into someday finding the ideal. We worship body image and the power of the feminine curve.
Nearly every conversation I have with the women of my family somehow winds back to flesh and bone. Gaining or losing 20 pounds, how to shape our hair, and concern for other body changes. Some seasons we are striving hard, looking to regain whatever beauty we have lost. Other seasons we have given up. Competing with ourselves is the most brutal of wrestling matches, and we often take this out by shredding the physicality of other women too.
Nearly every conversation I have with a friend will weave in these deep-seeded cultural matters. We are always running more, working to get one more size down and trying to finally achieve the perfect us. Even the women I have met who have achieved big goals like completing a triathlon, finally squeezing into their jeans from high school or achieving their health goals still say it is not enough. Yep, lots of blogs tell us we can be there, not to mention the remainder of media. But I am not here today to enter that battle. And I am not here today to say that we should never care about our bodies.
Something just itches at my heart. When I found out the baby I carried would be a daughter, I knew I had to really start sorting through this big mess we have dubbed femininity. Yes, I want her to know that she is beautiful (and I think she already does… nearly every person we encounter comments on what a beautiful baby she is…), but outward beauty is not enough to build a strong life. And honestly, inward beauty is not enough either, at least the self-propelled type our current Christian culture sets as the ideal. Even after pregnancy and these last 8 months to ponder, I still feel like I haven’t gotten very much farther in how to teach her to really deeply love her self, to not tie her self-worth up in beauty or accomplishments. Because I still very deeply struggle with these things.
But every night I do pray over my little baby love that even now, she would know Father’s love for her, and that all of the days of her life she would be rooted and grounded in how He sees her… His thoughts toward her are endless and unchanging. He delights in her. He always sees her as she was made to be, a brilliant life-giving force of a woman, a fiercely beautiful wise Eve of the kingdom of God. And maybe through parenting this life force, all of this will sink in for me too.
Perhaps if we lived fully surrendered to God’s grace, planted and rooted and grounded in Him, flourishing in His courts, we would finally get it. But somedays, I don’t even remember how to get there, and my heart hurts from this world and from the demands of daily life. Somehow, I need to learn and change and grow, because I don’t want to give this self-deprecating lens to my beautiful little seed of a woman. Someday, she will have to face these things head-on too, or they will shape her until her very last breath on this earth.