I recognized it immediately, watching her beautiful brown eyes scan the faces of her friend; it was the unmistakable look of fear. Vulnerable and insecure, she searched for herself inside her friend's expression. Did she like her own birthday present, or was it lame? I watched her hold herself back and let her friend decide for her.
My heart twisted, knowing she was looking for affirmation in the wrong place, and losing herself in the process. Something told her she didn't belong, and influence hung heavy in the air, pressing on insecurities she didn't even know were there. Afraid, she reached for the closest thing that promised security and took hold of it; acceptance from her friend. Somewhere inside, she believed it made her valuable. Somewhere inside, it made her feel like she belonged.
But this was the furthest thing from the truth.
She was already valuable because she was my daughter. She already belonged because she was part of my family. Nothing was going to change that. I accepted her like she wanted her friend to accept her. I gave her a name before she even knew she belonged. Didn't she know she was already loved, just the way she was?
As much as she could understand, she did know. But with its fake proclamation of worth, insecurity roared louder than love for a second, and she lost herself in its cry. And finding validation in her friend's eyes, she traded the truth for a lie.
My heart broke. I wanted to pluck my daughter out and remind her of her worth. I longed to remind her of the security of my love. But as she accepted herself there in the eyes of her friend, I knew she wouldn't believe the truth now. Not until she felt the emptiness of looking for it in the wrong place.
I drew near as close as she would let me get and loved her in a way she didn't even know existed. But as I observed my daughter at a distance, a familiar chord resounded inside me.
My daughter was me.
Though an adult, I was still susceptible to my own adolescent insecurities. I felt them at play in my own life. No matter how much I learned, I was still prone to believe lies. No matter how much wisdom I gained, my insight and experiences couldn't eliminate the power of influence. If anything, they only created different crevices for lies to seep in unnoticed. Because, like my daughter, I couldn't see myself fully, no matter how much more clearly I could see.
But God saw me, and his heart ached for me in the same way my heart ached for my daughter. He saw me as a teenager then, struggling like her. And he saw me now, wrestling with the same fear in a more sophisticated way. Regardless of how it looked in me, it was the same thing; an exchange of the truth for a lie. And he was grieved for us both.
He knew our best already, and it was him. We didn't need to look for our worth within ourselves or anyone else; we already had it in him. Generously, he gave the security and validation we longed for, and every cry of insecurity he overwhelmed by his presence. He wanted us to remember who were already were; valuable, accepted, and beloved daughters of his. Would we listen? Would we remember? Would we believe the truth or the lie?
I turned from looking for my worth in the wrong places and ran to his embrace; only there could I even hope to help my daughter remember her own. My love as a mother wasn't enough to complete her, but perhaps it would point her to the one who could. So I waited there, at a distance, as close as she would let me get, in the fullness of the love that was enough for us both.
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