I made the mistake of letting Jude paint her fingernails the other day…..all by herself. Actually, she did a pretty good job for a 3 year old. She stayed inside the lines surprisingly well. I bragged on her then gave her the speech of, “You did so good….but, don’t open the polish without asking, ok? Always check with mommy first. Ok??” Of course she gives me one of her sweet, compliant, disarming replies, “Ok, mommy….I will.”
Well, yesterday we dropped off the boys at school and headed to Target. On the way, she panicked a little and said, “Oh no! The paint came off my thumb!” I told her it was ok and we’d fix it in a little while. She whined and moaned for a couple of minutes and then said, “Mommy, I want to go home!”
I’m thinking, “What?! She doesn’t want to go to TARGET???” (It’s sad….but it’s one of our favorite places. Don’t judge…..they have $2 popcorn/icee deals!) So, I asked her why on earth she wanted to go home and she said, “Cause……my nail looks funny!”
It just struck me right then, that….Wow….this starts SOOO young. She didn’t want to go do one of her favorite things because she was afraid someone would see something was not quite right about her. 3 years old!! Just turned 3, 3 months ago! I assured her that she was so pretty that no one would be looking at her fingers and that even if they did, everyone’s nail polish gets messed up sometimes. (Of course, this is precisely the reason I only polish my toes and never ever my finger nails.) Anyway…..it really hit me how common it is among girls of all ages to want to appear so well put together and to want that acceptance on such a profound level. Really…..3 yrs old?! I had visions and anxieties of her middle and high school years just grip me all the sudden. As this little scene unfolded in the car, I had one of my playlists on my iPhone going and Wonderful, Merciful Savior by Selah was playing. “You give the healing and grace our hearts always hunger for….oh our hearts always hunger for.” Thank you, Lord!! That anxiety left me as soon as it came.
Not Jude, though. I’ve never had this child tell me she didn’t want to go to Target. It bothered her so much that she rode in the basket and continually asked me if I was done and if we could go home. She only gave it a brief rest when we were picking her out a new little dress, because, well…..she’s a girly girl and LOVES dresses right now. As soon as it was in the basket with her, she was ready to pay and go home. Though, after I hurried along and got ready to walk out the door she said, “Wait! My Icee!” On the ride home, she enjoyed her Icee and Reese’s and nothing more was said about the fingernail. The fine art of distraction…..or so it would seem. When we got home she wanted to put on her dress and of course, I let her. Then she went off to play and I started putting things away. A few minutes later, she came to me holding up her nails saying, “It’ll dry really fast.”
Oh yes. She had gotten the polish out without asking….to fix that blasted thumbnail. Not only that, but she was in such a hurry that she didn’t stay inside the lines well at all and had it on her arms and legs…..and her new dress.
When I started this blog late last year, I discussed how this “roots” thing came to be; how I feel like we all have some common roots that bear digging up. This, my friends is a prime example. Here’s what I saw going on underneath it all in a nutshell:
Jude was not comfortable going out and doing what she loved with what she felt was an obvious defect that would make people look at her funny, even though in reality….it’s not likely anyone saw it and if they did, wouldn’t have cared because they’ve been there and because she’s THREE!! So, she didn’t really enjoy the trip at all (expect for the Icee). Then, she rushed home and made a bee-line for a bad choice. She HAD to fix that nail. So, she disobeyed by getting the polish out and almost ruined her brand new dress in the process.
Do you know where she’s coming from? I do. How many times have you let your own awareness of your imperfections keep you from enjoying something? How many times have you avoided situations due to fear? Particularly….Fear of how others would look at you? How many times have you compromised or made out right bad decisions in order to feel acceptable to others? How many times have you almost ruined something you loved as a result?
Those are feelings and anxieties we deal with all of our lives. But, because I had boys and they are wired differently, I didn’t realize just how young it all starts until my girl came along. Honestly, not many boys are perceptive enough at 3 to even wonder what others think of their appearance. If they were perceptive enough, they still probably wouldn’t care! What I do know from my own personal experience, though not a girly girl, is that those feelings and anxieties come early and stay late for the majority of girls. I have known VERY few people who totally and visibly identified themselves as followers of Christ in their teen years. Not that they were perfect or free from those tendencies but, comparatively speaking, they had a much more confident air and made far fewer compromises that the majority of their peers.
The wedding I mentioned attending in my last post was that of 2 such young people. They were two, unashamed high-schoolers with a quiet, confident air. Now both approaching their mid 20’s, they were able to include in their ceremony the removal of a “true love waits” ring, replacing it with a wedding band. I have to say, the Lord loves a wedding celebration. He talks an awful lot about them in scripture. So, when two people unashamedly committed to Him joined together in marriage…..I doubt “approved” covers what He felt toward them. I doubt “pleased” would even describe His delight in them that day. I don’t have to tell you how rare it is that a bride can proudly wear her white dress as a symbol of purity. Believe me, those are not judgmental words. They are full of empathy because I think at the root of it all, it's the incessant need common to most girls to gain the approval of others that fill our teen years with compromise and plagues many for a lifetime.
Though I didn't come to this conclusion until I was already grown and married myself, this I know for certain from personal experience: There is no one else’s approval we need other than that of our Heavenly Father. There is no other safe place to seek approval. Not even family. It is only by the power and grace of God that we master those tendencies toward fear and anxiety and their resulting bad choices. There is no support group or self-help book out there can adequately arm us to fight and win when it comes to spiritual warfare and that is exactly what's going on. Satan is not omnipotent but he is very observant and finds his delight in capitalizing on our insecurities and weaknesses. Christ alone is the only one that can provide that quiet confidence in the dark, deceptive world around us and His Word is the lamp He wants to use to light our way and arm us for battle. This is my prayer for Jude AND my boys: That they would delight themselves in Him from a young age and find their confidence, not even in me….but, in Him alone.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
for I believe in your commandments.
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I keep your word.
You are good and do good;
teach me your statutes.
The insolent smear me with lies,
but with my whole heart I keep your precepts;
their heart is unfeeling like fat,
but I delight in your law.
It is good for me that I was afflicted,
that I might learn your statutes.
The law of your mouth is better to me
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
The link below will re-direct you to YouTube with a sweet video of "Wonderful, Merciful Savior"