“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. “ Psalm 139:13
“Hayley, your hair looks extra pretty this morning. Your curls are so soft and shiny,” began the bus stop conversation with my middle child. However, the effort to compliment my daughter on her beautiful head of curls quickly turns into this: “Yuck, I don’t like them! They are ugly!”
Really? This self-loathing starts at six?
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13
I remember my love/hate relationship with my own head of deep brown, unruly curls. As much as my mother tried to tell me how beautiful they were, how much people pay “to get hair just like yours,” I never listened to her voice of encouragement. Instead, I based my appearance on those around me-all those other girls who looked nothing at all like me, who had perfectly placed, straight strands of hair, who could brush their hair without fear of the brush getting stuck in the tangles at the end, whom I sure didn’t have tears of pain in their eyes from an early morning hair-pulling and detangling session. I was different. I stood out and was singled out, all because of my hair, and I didn’t like it!
“I praise you, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14
I took no solace in the realization that God made me just as I am, even those messy, unruly curls. I placed my self-worth in the opinions of others, in the images of those around me. Unfortunately, as time dragged on, it wasn’t just my hair I began to hate, but my nose, then my crooked teeth, until my self-esteem was gone. So, I hid my curls in buns, stopped smiling, and well-still hated my nose.
“My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.” Psalm 139:15
After this mornings conversation, I begin to remember another one Hayley and I had, not too long ago:
“Mommy, I want my hair cut like *Sally’s. She doesn’t have tangles.”
“Well, honey, Sally has straight hair. You can’t cut yours like that. It will still tangle because it is curly.”
And the six-year old response, the I-don’t-want-to-look-different response of my beautiful daughter: “Well, then I want straight hair like everyone else.”
“The very hairs on your head are numbered. You are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” Luke 12:7
So, this morning, I told my sweet, yet sassy child what I wish I had been able to grasp 20 plus years before. “Honey, your hair is beautiful. You are beautiful. You know why? Because you were made by God. He wanted you to have those curls, so embrace them as part of who he made you to be.”
“Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good.” Genesis 1:31
It will be forever tempting to measure our self-worth against the beauty we see in others. We may have had mothers who encouraged us to embrace our differences, but we will all at some point fall prey to the comparison trap-even our six year old daughters.
“You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way.” Song of Songs 4:7
I am not sure when I finally accepted my different appearance. Up until about 3 years ago, I still hid my curls in a tangled bun, until I finally decided to let go of the temptation to compare my looks with that of others and chop off my hair all together. I still look different. I still have an upturned nose, crooked teeth, and in between haircuts, a head full of curls. However, now I hold my curly head high, I smile, and don’t even think much about my nose. God thinks I am beautiful. He thinks you are beautiful as well. He thinks the present six year old version of my former self is also beautiful. God chose me. He chose you, and he chose Hayley-our eyes, our noses, our smiles, and yes, even our unruly hair.
“For we are God’s masterpiece…” Ephesians 2:10
That’s all the reassurance any of us will ever need.