When she took her first steps, she stopped to clap for herself. After rolling a ball, she claps. Tell her to blow a kiss and you’ll get the sweetest little kiss joyfully blown your way, and happy applauding to follow.
She sees herself the loving way we see her, the way God sees her in all her beauty.
This is my sweet little girl, Sailor. She turned one a few days ago. Little as she is, she has much to teach us. She exudes joy in everything she does. No matter how many times she falls, she gets back up with joyful purpose.
“Yay, Sailor!” We all sing with her.
Right now, in this brief moment, she sees only the perfect way she was knit together. She celebrates every step she bravely takes in the right direction. She is at peace with all she is.
My older daughter, Maggie, stands beside me loading the dishwasher while I scrape plates into the sink. The water rushes and the dishes clank as we talk. Over the noise I hear so much more than her words.
“Mom, I get so frustrated sometimes. I hate not being able to do things as well as I want, or as easily. I hate struggling.”
It had been a hard day in math, a new lesson. She often works with ease, but sometimes new is hard. We sat snuggled up under a blanket, curled up with pencils and problems. It took a while. Tensions were high for a few moments. She got it in the end, though. She did it. We celebrated. But, still this.
Now, all she remembers is that it took longer than she would have liked. I know so much about this. She is hard on herself. She sees herself measured by worldly measures and counts herself less than when things don’t go as smoothly as planned.
I’ve tried to prevent this. I’ve tried to raise her differently. This feeling of not being enough is all too familiar to me. It troubled me for years and still can at times. I don’t show it to the kids. I don’t want them to know this struggle in the intimate way it held me for so long. I want them to know Him, to know their purpose and the love of their creator. I have hopes. Hopes that her only identity would come from Christ. Hopes that she would celebrate all that is perfectly knit and not focus on the falls, but still.
The world has its way of creeping in. I fought these thoughts and feelings for so long. I tried so hard to measure up. It always ended in defeat, until I accepted my identity in Him.
I hear her heart and want to rescue it from the burden of this worldly pain. I want to lead her into the arms of the Almighty Father, into the vision of a daughter who is always adored, falls and all. I want that reflection to be hers and yet I know it will be blurry at times.
It was so much simpler when she was one. When she clapped and cheered like her joyful baby sister.
So, I look at her and just lay it out, “I hate when I struggle too. It’s hard. I know. I admire how you stick with things though, how you always get back up. It’s easy to focus on the struggles or the falls. That is so often what the world sees. It’s brave to look past them and see the triumphs, to dare to see your purpose through the hard times. When you conquer something hard, it will mean so much more than if it had just come to you. It’s the journey that counts. You are so brave, my sweet girl. Your strength will serve His kingdom well.”
She leaned into me, and in a silent embrace, she melted into my arms amongst the noisy kitchen cleanup. She whispered through deeps sighs, “You’re brave too, Mama.”
“I’m trying to be, sweet girl.”
I am, trying that is. It’s a struggle, isn’t it?
It’s hard to fight the inner voice that is reminding us of all the balls we’ve dropped, of all the times we’ve fallen. It’s hard to remember in the midst of chaos and dirty diapers, missed appointments and mounds of laundry, burnt dinners and so much schoolwork, Phew!…that we are chosen and perfectly knit.
Each day we get up and do it all again, each time we point these precious ones to God’s word and redirect them to follow His path, each time we celebrate in spite of the mess, we are brave.
I have strangers tell me how brave I am all the time when I am out with my 6 children. They are right. I am daring to see past the world’s vision of my life and embrace His vision.
We can all learn from Sailor, and take a moment to clap for all we are and all we do. Embrace it, for you and for your children.
Give yourself a hand. “Yay, Mama!”
If you enjoyed this post, check out some of Brandy’s other writing…