I am fearfully and wonderfully made

birdbath1Photo credit Michael and Diane Porter

I must have been five or six, visiting my nana, I don’t remember much but I know she lived in a small two story house somewhere in the Northeast. I don’t recall going there often or even having been there before that time. It was winter, or maybe spring. I know it was wet. We had been stuck in the house for sometime and so when the sunshine made its appearance I hurried outside to play. I was quickly greeted by a neighbor girl who took no time in becoming my best friend. We laughed and giggled as we chased each other around a large white birdbath.

After a few minutes of us running, we stopped to catch our breath and she turned to me and asked me why my skin was so brown.

I believe it was one of those defining moments in my life. I remember looking down at my tanned colored arms as if looking at them for the first time, and not knowing the answer to this question, I shrugged.

I can’t tell you how the rest of our play time went, or if there was any more discussion of the matter, but my next memory is of my little body pressed up against a white pedestal sink in my nana’s little bathroom with my arms stretched out in the water and a bar of white ivory soap. With childlike faith I believed that if I lathered up enough white soapy foam onto my arms, my skin would turn the same color as this little neighbor girls.

This isn’t a painful memory, although it’s an uncomfortable one. It used to bring many questions about who I am, and I used to wonder if my skin was all anyone ever saw. Did others too have questions?

Often when I look at my oldest daughter, that memory presents itself. I see her beautiful brown eyes and the same tanned skin and I wonder, will she too encounter a little girl that will unknowingly ask her a question that will forever haunt her? Will she too feel imperfect? Suffer from the same insecurities?

 

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139

It’s a verse we talk about often. It’s the one, once I knew Christ, that I found comfort in. I love the diversity of God’s creation; I love the rich history that comes from our differences. I love that God knew before we were even formed in our mother’s womb that we would be all that we are. He paid special attention to our every attribute and chose our personalities and the Bible even tells us he took the time to place us exactly where he wants us in history!

I can only pray that these truths would be steeped deep in her heart. And if/when she is asked the question she can say with confidence; I am who I am because this is who God created me to be. And she can know in her heart that God doesn’t make mistakes.

Growing up is hard, living in this world is harder!

Being a  parent is hard. It’s possible that being a child is harder. We can tell our sons and daughters all day that they are worthy, they are beautiful, handsome, kind, and lovable but all it takes is one person and one unkind or mistaken word and all the time and effort that we spend building our children up is out the door. I have found this to be true even at six years old.

      My thoughts are coming from a recent discussion that my daughter had with my mother. It began with her telling my mom that she was different from those around her, When my mother asked her why she felt that way, she mentioned that her skin color was not the same as that of her cousins and friends. My mother did a great job telling her how beautiful she was as well as other appropriate wordings for the situation but I have to say that as a mother, I was just heartbroken. We never want our children to hurt, and although I was assured Zoe wasn’t upset during this conversation, I know that it was weighing on her heart. I guess it never occurred to me that it would matter to her that her skin is a little darker than some of her family and friends.  She has two parents that adore her, not to mention all the other wonderful family and friends that are in her life, that I feel do a pretty good job building her up. But her “pretty” skin color has often been a topic of conversation and I think that even with the positiveness of it, the constant casual discussion of it has now made her self-conscious.

Zoe is a very “thoughtful” little girl in the sense that you never know how she feels about something until one day she surprises you when you least expect it with a very thought out conversation, so I know this one had been on her mind for a while.

I haven’t brought up that conversation with Zoe, I don’ t want her to think she can’t talk to my mother when she has something she wants to share. But we have since had many conversations about how God has made us all unique. He loved us so much individually that he made each one of us different. We have read Psalm 139, focusing on the part where he knit us together in our mothers womb (which, by the way that conversation didn’t go the direction I planned, I had to end it very quickly when the how did the baby get in there question was asked!) Any how, I have realized that with the world around us constantly bombarding us with how we are “suppose” to look and reminding us that we don’t live up to that image. We as parents have to be on guard to protect our children from that false view of themselves. Now is not too young to start.

This situation, as well as another one was brought up to our children’s pastor, and he had some wonderful thoughts that I will share in another post.

In the meantime, remember to be in prayer for your children.