Warning: This post contains language that some may find offensive. If you prefer to skip reading it, I completely understand. I hope, however, that you will not. Today is Mother’s Day. Instagram & Facebook are awash with photos of moms. Grainy pictures from decades past, as well as ones strategically shot with iPhones, and put through a myriad of filters. Both are beautiful.
I think we should be celebrating moms everyday. They give, sacrifice, love, and nurture in ways I’m not capable of. But on this one day, I love seeing folks publicly appreciate the mothers in their lives.
Rachel usually makes the grocery list for the week, and normally take turns shopping every Sunday afternoon. But today, I made the list and headed to the store, while she took a much needed break.
I was nearly done with my trip. As I awkwardly navigated my shopping cart into the chip/cookie aisle, I came to a stop in front of the cheetos (as I do every week. They’re just so good!) As I was standing there, having an internal debate over crunchy vs. puffy, a mom and her teenage daughter wandered down the aisle, and came to a stop next to me. I was not privy to the rest of their conversation, but what I did hear was,
“Damnit, I’m just getting really tired of you being such a fuck-up all the time.”
As I went to leave the aisle, I saw the look on the face of that girl, who could not have been older than thirteen.
She was defeated. She had been broken. The words that her mother had spoken to her had destroyed her. She looked almost empty, and I could tell that this was not the first time she had been told what a disappointment she was.
As a dad to daughters, I understand being frustrated with your kids. Kids are frustrating at times. I've talked harshly to my kids before, and though I’m not proud of it, I've scolded them in public (and later asked their forgiveness.) So believe me, I get being frustrated with your kids. But there’s a difference between disciplining your kid (which I’m all for) and belittling your kids, and beating them down with your words. What I witnessed wasn't discipline, it was abuse. I saw the face of a girl who is constantly told she isn't good enough. That she’s nothing. That she’s a disappointment.
I've said this before, but I believe it to be true. Kids will believe about themselves what you say about them. They will draw their identity from it. Sadly, that girl is going to go through her adolescence believing that she’s worthless. That she’s a mistake. That she’s a “fuck-up.” And the truly sad part is, she will live like it.
My heart broke. I contemplated following them and saying something, but what would I have accomplished? What would I have changed?
As I thought more about it, I realized that I wouldn't have even said a word to the mom, but I would've approached the girl, looked her in the eye, and said something like this:
You are beautiful.
You are not a disappointment. You are not a mistake, or an accident.
You are worth more than you will ever know.
You are so much more valuable than it appears your mother thinks you are.
You have dreams of growing up, marrying a man, and having daughters or sons of your own, and I believe that you would NEVER talk to them that way.
You know the hurt of not being appreciated, and for that, I am so sorry.
You may or may not know who Jesus is, but I promise you, he marvels at you.
He delights in you.
You are the most beautiful thing he made.
He rejoices over you.
He sings over you.
He can’t stop loving you.
No matter what your mom may think of you or say to you, you are amazing, wonderful, beautiful, important, and you matter.
You are loved so much more than you will ever realize, by the creator of the universe.
As I fall asleep tonight, thinking about my girls, I will say a prayer for the girl at Winco. I dont’ know her name, or anything about her, but I know that she needs to know how fiercely she is loved.
The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.