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 was telling 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 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 feeling vulnerable and exposed, with influential eyes watching, she traded the truth for a lie. Insecurity roared louder than love for a second, and she lost herself in its cry. If only I could make her see what I saw, she'd come running back to the truth. But as influence lingered by, her exchange pulled her further away from what was already hers, and she listened to the definition of worth that the insecurities screamed at her inside. My heart broke.
Longing for her best, I wanted to pluck her out and remind her who she was. I wanted to embolden her worth by helping her see the truth for herself. But she looked only to her friend and could only see herself through the lens of their eyes. She couldn'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.
Observing my daughter from a distance, a familiar chord struck me inside. My daughter was me.
Though I matured past adolescence, I was still growing and healing from past hurt, no matter how much I learned. Like her, I was susceptible to insecurities and felt them at play in vulnerable and exposed places. My insight and experiences didn't eliminate the power of influence; if anything, they only created different crevices for lies to seep in unnoticed. Like my daughter, I couldn't see myself fully, no matter how much more I could see.
But God saw me, and his heart ached for me like 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. 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 own 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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