It has me wondering, though, when was the first time I began to compare myself to others and found myself lacking? Was it the magazines I read in my preteen years, loving the glossy photos, but internalizing subconscious messages about image?
Was it in the awkwardness of middle school and the taunting over how I looked, and feeling like I never fit in?
Was it in my reasoning that if I were a "good girl" and followed the rules, performed well in school, earned all the gold stars in Sunday School, then I would find acceptance? Was it when I learned that this was untrue?
All I know I'm learning from my kindergartener, my mini-me without a filter. It starts so early. She looks in the mirror and asks, "Am I pretty?" And I say, "Yes...and smart and creative and funny and artistic and strong and helpful." I tell her about the importance of being pretty on the inside, sharing beauty by loving others, standing up for what is right, and living as a child of God. God created her with such beauty, and her gift is to share that with the world.
Her brother normally has no problem with confidence.
But there are moments when I see how comments and biases have worked their way into his mind and heart. "That's a girl color" he cries at every sighting of pink, and defends himself by following the gender normative status quo: Beyblads, Star Wars, swords, "boy colors", and asking to get his hair cut when someone told him he looked like a girl. The slightest correction is met with the response, "You don't like me. You don't love me." And I tell him I like him and love him, no matter what; even when I don't like what he is doing. I say he's handsome and smart and sweet and kind. I tell him that I admire how hard he works at what he loves. I remind him that he doesn't have to be like anyone else, that he is wonderful as he is, just as God created him. I encourage him to keep growing into who God has made him to be and to use the gifts he's been given to make a difference in the world.
I was moved by a blog post on Stuff Christians Like. Jon Acuff is talking about his daughter who doesn't want to wear a band-aid on her injury, fearing she will look silly. He asks her, "Who told you that you were silly?" which mirrors the question God asks Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, "Who told you that you were naked?" It spurs other questions:
Who told you that you weren't pretty?
Who told you what it means to be a boy/girl?
Who told you that you'll never accomplish that?
Who told you that you weren't enough?
I pray that the affirmations and reminders will sink in for him, for her, and for me, and that one day we will know and live like we are enough, just as we are.