Dear Lauren and Lydia,
In first Corinthians 13 the bible speaks of not seeing ourselves and life overall clearly…how we only see dimly now but someday all things will be clear.
I want you to know, you don’t see yourselves clearly right now. You don’t see the potential for greatness you have within you. You don’t see your strengths and beauty the way others can around you. You can’t step outside of your body to see yourself but if you could you would be surprised at how awesome you are.
You don’t know what you’re good at. Oh maybe you have little snippets of knowing what you’re good at, but not nearly enough. You haven’t lived through enough of life’s experiences to realize how far you can go, how much you can do, how strong you really are.
And this is what happens…
Too often we let complete strangers…people who care nothing about us, and who won’t give us another passing thought tell us who we are or who we aren’t.
Someone makes an offhand comment or a certain facial expression and we take it to heart and feel like a failure, useless, and weak. We lose our confidence so easily.
For some reason we put too much weight on what strangers and people who don’t really know or care about us think and to little weight on those who know us best and love us. We discount what those who love us have to say, saying…”Yeah…but” as if they have to say good things so it’s not real.
As I was jogging in the pool today it occurred to me how bizarre this is. It’s life damaging to give people permission to speak into your life about who you are, the very soul of you, when they have nothing invested in you.
Instead…we must cultivate a circle of close people around us who will speak truth, but will speak it in love. Their words should carry the heaviest weight in your life. Their words will be the very words of God to your soul if you listen.
For you right now…I would say that role belongs to the four people that live in this home together, to some extended family and maybe a very few close friends.
If you let other people tell you who you are and who you aren’t, especially people who don’t really know or care about you, you walk away feeling like you’re not good at anything.
Strangers will rarely recognize the amazing beauty and depth that you have within you. Some will…and those will be God encounters, but that is rare.
So…I’m just going to tell you, until you marry someone someday and have that relationship of becoming one I want you to know that I who gave birth to you and have been with you through every day and phase of your life will mirror to you who you are. I’ve already been doing this your entire life, sometimes well, sometimes not so well…but in these coming years I will try to do a better job of giving you an idea of who you are and what you’re good at.
1. You are a relaxed person. You live with a mom who isn’t great at relaxing…and has not valued this quality about you nearly enough, but the reality is, because you know how to relax, others are able to relax when they’re with you. This is a gift.
2. You are witty and smart. There are moments when you are so hilarious. Your mind is quick to think of things that I could never think of.
3. You are beautiful. I know you’re likely to discount this. You’ve struggled with what the world thinks is beautiful your entire life, weight, skin, etc. But honestly, you are beautiful and you are just growing more beautiful by the day. You have a natural beauty. And you’re working on getting healthy.
4. You are an awesome swimmer. And Ice skater. And biker. You are more athletic than you realize.
5. You are strong. You are always afraid others will see you as weak, but no one does Lauren. You have inner strength that is obvious to those around you. You know how to persevere.
6. You are kind. You notice people who are on the fringes and feel left out and they matter to you. You think of others before yourself.
7. You are good with money. Last summer you had your first job and didn’t hardly spend a penny all summer. You still have that money in the bank right now. Lauren…that’s huge!
8. You are free spirited and stylish. I love how you arrange things and wear things and see the world. It’s far different from me. I look forward to seeing your house/apartment someday because I know it will be decorated and arranged just the way you want it to be and it will be unique.
9. You are loyal. I know I can always count on you…for life.
10. You are smart. Smarter than you realize. And you like to think and talk about ideas and issues more than people and trivial stuff. This will only grow as you get older.
11. You are a joy to be around. You tend to feel like you’re bothering people or inconveniencing them, but honestly, your entire life I’ve been told by anyone who has spent time with you what a joy you are to be around and I knew they weren’t just making it up. I’ve been around you a long time and it’s truth. You are a joy to be around.
12. You are hardworking. I still remember you burning up all of the yard waste last spring, you tended that fire for hours :)
I’m sure if I sat here and thought more I could easily write another dozen things about you that I see…but I hope this at least gives you a start.
This next year you are pursing massage therapy certification and I have to tell you, I will be your first customer in line because I know in advance you will be awesome!
1. You are passionate. You feel things strongly. This causes some challenges for you but ultimately it’s a gift. Who knows what great things you will do for others with that passion.
2. You are loyal. And I mean, way loyal…crazy loyal :)
3. You are an avid music lover. I’ve never seen anyone love music the way you do. You hear things in the music and can talk about it in ways that most can’t.
4. You are sensitive. Again, this can be a hard one to deal with because it can lead to hurt. But regardless, it’s still a gift. You are tender and care about other people. In a world that far too easily is indifferent, distracted and where no one cares about anybody else this is a huge asset.
5. You are a good cook. This one I’m just realizing as you’ve started cooking lately. But I can already tell you are. And will only get better with time and experience.
6. You are open and honest. I always know with you that I will get an open, honest answer without beating around the bush. You are a truth teller.
7. You are beautiful. You have a lovely smile and your eyes light up when you smile. You’re expressive more than most and of course your hair always stands out to people. You are very modest and at this age seem uncomfortable with the whole beauty/body thing, but Lydia, you are attractive.
8. You are a wonderful photographer. The pictures this week that we took were good enough I would’ve paid a photographer for them easily. Glad I got them for free from you :). You have a great eye for taking pictures.
9. You are smarter than you give yourself credit for. I hope you will see this more and more as you go on to college.
10. You are funny. There have been times that I have wet my pants because of your hilarious antics, I’m not proud to admit it but you and I both know it’s true.
11. You have a beautiful voice. You really do. I’ve been so glad to see you in Encounter this year. I hope you will sing for the rest of your life.
12. You are loving. You can’t bear to have conflict rest between you and someone you love. You’re quick to apologize and quick to say you’re sorry.
Again, I could list more but this list for both of you is a good start.
The other side of the coin is this…girls you have the power, the God given power within you to speak this kind of blessing over one another. You have the living presence of God within you wanting you to express and see good in one another, to encourage one another. Use it. It’s too easy to say things that are unkind and without thought…may we all rise above that kind of conversation and interaction.
I pray our home is a place where you feel confident, a place where you get an idea of who you are, you’re God given identity.
Most of all you are both children of The King.
The very God who gives you air to breathe, sunshine to keep you warm, breezes to cool your brow…this God made you and knows you inside and out. He delights in you. Imagine that.
Let these truths sink in while you are young…don’t let it take you until your forties to figure this stuff out.
Believe in yourself. Don’t put yourself down.
Love your momma who sees amazing things when I look at both of you. You are special, unique, talented, interesting, and worth knowing and I would say that even if I wasn’t your mom.