Claire came bounding into my bathroom as I got ready to leave the house, wearing her favorite footed penguin pajamas, she smiled shy at me and said, “Mama do I look pretty?” It was such a simple question but I knew it meant everything in her tiny world. I smiled, wishing all questions in life were this easy, “you look beautiful sweetie, and you always do.” She smiled big, playing with her hair, I had given her just the answer she was hoping for. She sat and watched me finish my makeup and brush my hair one last time informing me that she too needed red lip gloss. I laughed, gave her a little and told her to go show daddy, waiting to hear the oohhs and ahhs that ensued. I loved moments like these where she gave me such an easy opportunity to affirm her in the simplest yet profound ways. Memories filled of me asking my mom that very question as I watched her get ready for her dates with my dad. I would sit in her bathroom on the edge of the tub and wonder if I would ever have as much beauty and grace as my momma.
Aren’t we all running around the world asking others to answer important questions about us ever so silently? How many times have I walked into a room begging for someone to give me the same answer, “yes you are beautiful, yes you are valuable, yes you matter.” We are all plagued by questions we need answering but if we are not careful we can place our fragile identities into the wrong hands.
It’s easy to spot young, the daughter desperate for love who runs into the arms of a boy who is only looking for lust… if only her dad had looked up from the TV to tell her what her heart needed to hear. Or the boy picking a fight so someone will tell him he is man enough. The adult versions are even less pretty, grown men needing all the right flash to tell you they are worth something, woman with all the right gossip so they won’t feel like such a fraud and all along the way we are asking, am I worth something, am I pretty, do I matter?
Where can we safely take questions of such magnitude?
One of my favorite artists is Sara Barellies, so much so that I booked a couple of tickets on Cheapo Ticketing and went to her concert 37 weeks pregnant with Briggs and all I cared about was making it through that concert and not being rushed to labor and delivery. I managed to make it through… then promptly gave birth two days later (winning). My absolute favorite song of hers says “does anyone know how to hold my heart?” What a question. Does anyone know? Nope. I have yet to find a man or woman on earth who has the ability or the selflessness to take my fragile heart and hold it with great care. I have yet to be able to trust in anyone but him.
The thing is, I have the absolute best people around me, top notch friends and family who love me well but they have almost all let me down in some way, just as I have them. I don’t know anyone who can hold my heart. I only know one who went to the cross to win my heart. I only know one who is safe to ask life’s questions to.
Am I pretty? I created you in my image. (Gen 1:27) It’s my breath in your lungs
Am I worth loving? I have loved you with an everlasting love (Jeramiah 31:3) I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are mine. (Isaiah 43:4)
Do I matter? You are fearfully and wonderfully made, (psalms 139:14) I know the number of hairs on your head (Matthew 10:30) and I spoke creation into being. If you trust me to begin a good work in you I will see it to completion. (Philippians 1:6)
Who will protect me? I will be within her, she will not fall. (Psalm 46:5) Though enemy’s surround you I will spread my wings over you and protect you. (Psalms 91:4)
The only safe place to run to with the questions that call from within our beating hearts is the one who made our heart beat. You are enough. You are loved. You matter. As much as I want to be able to affirm everything in my daughter, son, and anyone else I love I know I will fail. My words will never be enough, the hole where affirmation should go will gape with questions until we place our heart in the hands of the one who said, It is finished. Our inadequacies will eat at us and we will ask all the wrong questions to all the wrong people until we believe there is a God who loves us enough to endure death, even death on a cross, to give us what we never deserved in the first place.