My Beautiful Girl,
Your teachers told us a sweet story recently about my favorite little hand. Your classmates were making a hand print craft. Apparently you went last and the other children gathered around to watch. Miss Erin said you held up your left hand, laughed and told the class is was “baby hand’s turn”. The class giggled nervously then grew attentive as your tiny fingers – those three that will never straighten on their own – were pressed down into the paint.
What was your little heart thinking? Had you hung back and gone last, hoping you wouldn’t have to? Dad and I have held our breath for four years waiting for the dawn of your self-consciousness…a perfectly normal response to a less-than-perfect hand. We held you the day you were born and talked through tears about how to imprint on your soul the “beautiful different” that you are. We laid in the dark the night before school started and wondered in hushed tones how your hand would be perceived by your first classmates.
As you lifted your hand up from the paper, did you think your friends would laugh at the unusual imprint you left behind? Because, sweet girl, they clapped. All your classmates…they put their hands together for yours!!!
I pray their applause rings in your heart for a lifetime because I know there will be harder days ahead. I imagine your preteen years will be when it really hits — Lord knows I had enough body image issues of my own. One day soon there will be that struggle or hurt that will drown out all the applause. I’ll hold you tight and tell you how wonderful and unique God made you but it won’t be enough. My biased words will never be enough.
To prevent what other’s see from affecting how you see yourself, your identity will have to rest in the One who took on all our imperfections. Because, sweetheart, we’re all flawed. Your underdeveloped hand is an external reminder to me of all the ways I’m small and underdeveloped on the inside. Goodness, if I wore all my imperfections on the outside I’d be beyond recognition! So while you struggle to button your shirt, how long does it take me to notice the person in need of the shirt already on my back? As you fall off the monkey bars, dust yourself off and try again (so proud!), how many ways do I cling to earthly things too tightly? Honestly now, which is worse?
I believe with all my heart that in the economy of a sovereign God, nothing is ever wasted. Your hand wasn’t a mistake, a lesson or an oversight. It has a purpose and it’s part of your story. I can’t wait to read your story. Until a deserving man comes along and asks us for it, Dad and I are holding your little hand tight. The burdens too heavy to carry, we’ll carry with you but not for you — because, really, just look at the weight of love you’re already holding.
Carry on, embrace this life and leave your beautiful imprints everywhere, my love. We’re all applauding.