A few years ago we went camping with some friends who had little children. In the morning, the sun hadn’t quite warmed things up when the kids grew crazy excited about hitting the beach. Freezing water was completely ignored as they splashed and kicked in the surf or balanced on an air-filled sea creature. Tiny architects began building empires in the sand while the road crew enthusiastically plowed roads with the heels of their hands. One young girl, her thick hair hanging in wet ropes, retreated to a far end of the beach and studiously began working at the water’s edge. I thought she perhaps was lonely or hurt by someone so I wandered down the beach and plunked myself on the wet sand beside her. My presumption was completely wrong.
Upon inquiring about what she was making, she informed me, in a matter of fact way, that she was building fish houses with an askance look that let me know that it should be completely obvious. She then, quite efficiently, put me to work. I had after all came to help and apparently there were a lot of homeless fishies that desperately needed housing. She swept her hand around pointing to all the tiny minnows that scattered through the water. She showed me how to mound up the sand and dig out a cave-like hole in the mound just on the water’s edge so the fish could easily get in and out of them. “Then, you have to find pretty stones to decorate it. And,” she clarified, her eyes serious and determined, “they have to be REALLY pretty.” I started into the business of fish house construction, honestly a little afraid that I might not measure up to the standards set before me. She proved to be an excellent overseer though and carefully pointed out the placement of my house was inadequate for proper accessibility by water as well as helping me find more eye-catching decorative rocks to replace my obviously insipid ones.
I marvelled at her. I realize fish neither need or can practically use a house but that is secondary to what I witnessed. On a corner of the beach she had just seen a need, envisioned a plan to meet that need, convincingly communicated that vision to an audience and expertly oversaw the work force in bringing it to fruition. I’m not sure where she is heading with these gifts but I hope those small sparks are fanned and helped to grow. Perhaps the spark in her is a seed to help the homeless – providing housing that is functional as well as beautiful. Perhaps her skills will be funnelled into her own home with efficiency and grace. Who knows? It’s easy though to see her gifting and talent and cheer that on.
What will happen to her when she grows up?
Will she thrive and take these small gifts into greater and greater arenas?
Will she run into hard stuff in life and learn and grow through it?
What if she hears the message so many of us have heard?
The Negative Messages
Have you heard these messages? I hear them all the time from ladies I talk to. Messages that say:
She should Hide.
Will she become a woman who is afraid to put on a swimming suit and play in the surf because she feels fat or has spider veins or scars or cellulite or stretch marks or fluffy parts or bony parts or too much of some parts or too little of other parts and she wants to hide? Will she not do what she wants to do because she’s afraid someone somewhere out there will criticize her? Will she say no when she wants to say yes?
Her Thoughts are Stupid.
Will she become someone who has an idea but doesn’t think she has what it takes to carry it out? If she mentions it, someone might think it’s stupid? Will she live her life working on other people’s dreams and letting hers die? Will she continually say yes to others and no to herself?
Someone Else is Already Doing it Better.
Will she look around and see others that are doing similar things and assume she has nothing to offer? When she does offer something will she be able to feel pride in a job well done or will she criticize it to death because it’s not perfect?
Will she decide she’s not beautiful enough and therefore have less to offer? Will she look at pictures of herself and cringe? Will her inner critic rip apart every little thing about herself?
Does reading those things make you cringe? I hope so
What if this little girl grew up to be like you?
Is that a good thing? I hope so. I hope you, although not perfect, are still keenly aware of your unique awesomeness. I hope have been made aware of your fabulous blend of skills, gifts, talents and quirks. I hope you don’t hide all those unique characteristics away trying to not be noticed. I hope know deeply that you were created fabulously for a purpose.
I hope you aren’t hiding.
I hope you are able to enjoy the world and not worry about what some people in the world might think of you. You matter. Your thoughts are important. Your ideas count. Your voice needs to be heard. The people around you need you to stop hiding. The things that make you want to hide may be the very things that people love about you. The world doesn’t need you to be skinny, the world needs you to be healthy. Your family doesn’t need you perfect; your family needs you present. We don’t need your perfection; we need your awesomeness.
We don’t need your perfection,
We need your awesomeness!
I hope you aren’t stupid!
Yes, I did say that. You are being stupid when you think anything you put on will increase your value. You are being stupid when you think anything you own increases your worth. That little girl was bright and beautiful and didn’t need one single thing added to make her amazing. You don’t either. A label, a new thing, an accessory, a different relationship status…nothing is able to increase your value because you are already absolutely invaluable.
I hope you don’t compare yourself with others.
They aren’t you. They haven’t lived your life. They don’t have your genetics. They haven’t experienced your uniquely dysfunctional world. Build your freaking fish houses for fun and enjoy the process. Even if everyone on your beach decides to build fish houses, they won’t be like yours. What you offer will always be special. Always.
I hope you don’t think you’re ugly.
There is something beautiful about everyone and chances are you can’t even see your own beauty. I remember sleeping in a cramped room with about 60 teen-aged girls in Tijuana. I was always amazed at their incredible beauty. Amazed, not after they had spent an hour or more fussing and lining and dabbing and spritzing, but when they were waking up with youthful glowing skin and messy gorgeous hair. Ridiculously beautiful as they were…but they couldn’t see it. I also remember being a teenager myself and being enveloped in a beautiful bear hug by a friend’s mom. She really knew how to hug and I fondly recall her suffocating softness. I never, ever, ever once wished she’d worked out more. You don’t know what makes you beautiful to the world. Be healthy. Be whole. Be better than before. But don’t ever believe you’re ugly or you’ll hold back your true beauty.
What Happens to the Beautiful Little Girls?
When I talk to women broken by life – women who are hiding and believing they are ugly, or stupid, or worthless, or less than, I wonder what in the world happened to the beautiful little girl they once were. Who or what destroyed the beauty they were born with?
Who were you when you were a little girl?
What lit you up and brought joy to your world.
What were you like before you started to care what other people thought?
What was it like before you began to believe that your value was related to something other than just being a soul that is alive?
What were you created to really be like?
It’s time to take back that ground. It’s time to awaken the things inside that you’ve let die. It’s time to focus on health and heart, not fat and skin. It’s time to give out love and joy not hide in fear and alone-ness.
In these last month in my great province over six young girls have taken their own lives. 10-14 years old. Not even old enough to have fully lived. Women, we need to create a better world for our girls. We need to create better work places – where we build each other up instead of ripping each other apart. Our young girls are dying. We are losing gifts to the world. Beautiful young ones that need something more from us. Where do we start? By first learning to give it to yourself. Acceptance. Respect. Honour. Look in the mirror. See the human shell that hides your true beauty and begin today to treat yourself with respect and love.
Now go build your freakin’ fish house!