lipstick, toddlers, and Beauty

“Kerrigan, can I take your picture?”
“No. I need some lipstick first.”

Cute, no? Kerrigan, who will be three soon, has somehow learned that lipstick is a desirable thing. “Lipstick” in our home generally is ChapStick or a gloss of some kind. Though I consider myself pretty no-fuss most of the time, I realized the other day after the picture/lipstick first conversation that my child may equate beauty with make up. Or anything that changes her appearance. The harsh reality that I may tell her what a princess, how beautiful she looks, or how fancy pants she is by her wearing some $20 Disney gown happens more frequently than when she has bed head and mismatched clothes is, in a word, saddening.

I tell myself regularly that I’m not vain, materialistic, or put much value on my appearance as most days I’m in a racer back tank top (that fits a little awkward now thanks to our son and that growing bump) and running shorts. Unfortunately this is not my standard everyday attire as when I think I need to “impress” or set a certain view of myself out comes the hair wand, bronzer, and mascara (among 15 other things). Have I become so blind to my own desire to fit society’s definition of “beautiful” that I have passed this on to my child? Am I convincing her that she’s only photo worthy or beautiful with make up and fancy dresses? Dear Lord, help this mama.

1 Peter 3:3-4 tells us :”Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” I see a gorgeous, caring heart in my child. I see a toddler who loves singing “This Little Light of Mine,” dinosaurs, watching TV, and giving hugs. I could comment endlessly on how her “adornment’ is not “merely external” but the reality is I have some serious decision making ahead of me in assuring she finds her identity in who Christ says she is. 

A great article found here tells us, according to Christ, we are a child of God (John 1:12), have been justified and redeemed (Romans 3:24), have been accepted by Christ (Romans 15:7), and our body is a holy temple of the Holy Spirit ( 1 Corinthians 6:19). Among a vast array of other things the Truth remains: our Louboutins, Chanel, Janie and Jack, Gymboree, Nike clothes and Lancome, Bobbi Brown, and Tom Ford make up do not exist in the Bible as part of our identity. Our generosity, compassion, love, and desire to seek the Lord are far better indicators of who we are and unfortunately I tend to overlook this far too often. I’d be hard pressed sometimes to just merely walk past the red soled shoes in Nordstrom, to not peruse the Burberry and DVF racks, and scoop up baby Uggs for my littles. Let’s be honest, the expesnive stuff is cute, makes us feel a little less “blah” and, at least for me, often ups my mood. The feeling is fleeting, completely self absorbed, and shameful to admit. The truth that most of the clothes we buy K are from the sale rack at Target and her nicer clothes come from generous family is often a sense of “less than” for me. Sure, I’d like to be able to afford some Mini Boden for the munchkin but would that truly make me a good steward of my money? 

Are my husband and I instilling deeper values in our child that we aren’t even aware of? Subconsciously are we so indoctrinated with labels and culture that we forget that we serve a mighty King who has His hand in all situations? Do I truly believe that my child is any better, more lovable, or simply being raised right just because of the clothes I put on her or how many bows I put in her hair?

Am I so selfishly insecure that verbalizing how little I care about what I wear is further feeding the lie that I care sinfully far too much? Is my preoccupation with how much weight I gain during this blessing of a pregnancy taking away from my ability to be truly “present” with my family? Are the mixed signals I send to myself about alternating days of mismatched socks and bright tennis shoes with slingbacks and a stellar outfit just creating rift between Christ and myself?

Though all valid questions, the ramble further proves my point: even when trying to run from my people pleasing and passing on the belief that outward adornments make you beautiful to my daughter I’m still just a broken gal in need of a Savior. 

The above is not to say that we shouldn’t be good stewards of our bodies; that we shouldn’t strive to eat nutritious foods, take time for basic hygiene, or even invest in some time in front of the mirror to step it up for a day or seven. The point is about perspective and balance-am I basing my worth for the day on concise application of eyeliner and that my kiddo’s pigtails are even? Am I uncomfortable in public in my own skin or does that confidence come from Cover Girl and Nordstrom? The moment my opinion of myself is misaligned with who Christ says I am is the moment Satan attacks, convincing me there’s more attractive women at my husband’s work (who likely don’t have mom boobs) and that the kids with the matching dresses and bows are somehow worth more than my daughter who decided to dress herself in the morning. 

My immediate “emergencies” of “needing” more clothes, shoes, make up, toys and books for K, etc feel far away from God’s knowledge. It’s important to reconcile the desires of our flesh with the Will of God.  Let’s assume for a moment that a winter coat and shoes for Kerrigan are in fact a need. Most would agree as she has grown out of the ones from last year. Struggling to find something efficient, cost effective, and warm can’t possibly be on God’s radar yet Matthew 6:26 tells us something quite differently: Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?(NASB). Unfortunately the breakdown for me happens when I forget that God always provides and it’s usually in a way that I haven’t even considered. Dwelling on how our needs will get met only pulls me further from God and eventually causes a bigger chasm where I begin to doubt Him in more areas than just warm clothes for my child.

The ultimate goal of my life and my parenting style is to become, and raise my children to become, more like Christ. Specifically for Kerrigan I must be mindful for her and myself of Proverbs 31- while realizing that the text of the chapter is not describing a single woman. How refreshing! The qualities laid out below encompass the best of many women:

Proverbs 31: 10-31 NIV

10 <span class="footnote" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="[b]”>[b]A wife of noble character<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(K)”>
 who can find?<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(L)”>
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(M)”> has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(N)”>
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(O)”>
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(P)”>
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(Q)”> of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(R)”>
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise<span class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(S)”> at the city gate.

This woman works hard, is giving, loves others, has no fear, is industrious, has a respected husband, is wise, faithful, and not flippant with her words. My deepest desire is that I will hold fast to the Truth outlined in the Word and live it out in my walk as well that Kerrigan is taught that her value comes not from Disney or praise from her family or peers but that her uniqueness is a blessing from the Lord. Should she decide she loves make up and tulle all the days of her life may she use those passions to glorify the One who created her and not to satisfy what she believes is the definition of what makes her great.

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