My path to becoming a girl mom wasn’t what I imagined. And boy, did I ever imagine. I couldn’t have been more than about 10 years old when I began lugging that weighty JC Penney catalog onto my lap, where I’d sit with a Sharpie. And I’d circle.
I sifted through page after page of perfectly styled nurseries and circled all the things I dreamed of buying if I were designing a nursery for a baby girl. Yes, to the diaper stacker, the matching valance and curtains, the crib sheets and dust ruffle. Circles and more circles. Sometimes I’d even rummage around for a calculator, transfer my list of wants to lined paper and add up the cost of everything I’d need for a beautiful nursery. A someday nursery for a baby girl.
Silly dreaming, but the happiest of memories; there was something in me that craved beauty from an early age.
Oddly enough, I don’t recall spending much time thinking about the actual children I might have, what they might look like or the places we might go, I just knew I wanted it to be beautiful. And it all seemed so simple. Get married, become pregnant, order all the circles, done. Beautiful.
Except, real life doesn’t quite work that way.
Reality brings with it unexpected turns, unexpected hurts and heartbreak. Even so, beauty emerges, just as surely, from these unexpected places. It often looks different than we ever imagined, different than a perfectly styled nursery, but it’s beauty just the same.
It looks something like sleepless nights battling in prayer from the aching place of our hearts. It looks like children we love more than we can ever imagine yet challenge us in ways we never thought possible. It looks like faith and hope and trust on days when we feel empty and nowhere near enough for these little people God has given us.
Motherhood is harder, longer, more exhausting and more beautiful than I ever could have imagined.
Gone are the days of JC Penney catalogs, but I see my own young daughters caught up in the earliest fascinations with beauty as well. One is currently in the process of creating her own fashion book, carefully designing dresses, shoes and accessories, always with glitter pens. Meticulously, she details, embellishes and labels them all.
Unaffected by reality, she is dreaming up pure beauty in her little world. I watch her work and realize, this is her JC Penney catalog. This is her enjoying beauty.
I don’t want to stop her. I don’t want to hinder her simple and yet wild imaginings. Yet at the same time I wonder how I might slowly, gradually teach these girls of mine some truth about beauty. And if so, what exactly do I want them to know?
1. I want them to be noticers. To them, right now, beauty may look like all things designed with a glitter pen, but I want them to notice beauty in all of creation. Those concord grapes full to near bursting on the vines near our home? I want them to notice that beauty. That slightly obnoxious magpie, with it’s tuck of electric blue tipped feathers? It’s extraordinary, really. And so is that little ladybug struggling in the shaggy grass outside our front door.
As an adult, I’m learning there is so much beauty in the smallest and quietest moments of life, the monotonous and mundane, if I nurture a heart that chooses to notice. As I learn, I want to teach my daughters to do the same – to walk a little slower, look a little deeper, to notice.
2. I want them to see variety. Creation is a gift. It’s vast and varied. The endless array of shapes and sizes, forms and colors, are astounding and it feel likes the simplest way to help these girls of mine understand the amazing creativity of our God, as well the amazing and unique differences in them. What if we helped form our daughters’ understanding of beauty, by helping them notice the vast and varied ways their Creator has woven it into their world?
3. I want them to find beauty in unexpected places. Laundry is mundane and often boring, but I’ve had some amazing discussions with my kids amidst the folding. And it’s beautiful. Life is full of challenging and hard and monotonous, but God has a way of shining tiny glimpses of grace in those places. I want to help them see that, to see Him, in the most unexpected places.
4. I want them to know the Author of it all. Above all, I want my girls to know the writer of this beautiful life of theirs. We won’t shun beauty here, because God is the Master of it, but we will choose to see Him in all of it - in the rising and setting sun, on the hard and the easy days, in their unique strengths and weaknesses – I want to point them to Him. Underneath it all, I want to teach my girls the lesson I’m still learning right along with them – when our hearts are captivated by True Beauty, the shiny things of this world can only pale in comparison.
So for now I’ll let these girls be little. I let them keep doodling in that fashion book with those glittery pens, but I’ll also keep gently turning their eyes and tuning their hearts to the One who is truly captivating, truly beautiful.