As women we feel the pressing noose of comparison until we allow God to set us free. Sometimes we are the ones who tighten the noose and make it so tight we feel our breath leave us and our voice trails off into silence.
For about ten years I have removed the noose. As in, placed my hands on the jagged rope and loosened it until I could safely slip it off and trash it.
The only way we can correct a lie is with truth. I did word-searches in the Bible and studies on certain things, or wrong thoughts, that were tripping me up. I cried. I prayed. I wrote feverishly into my journal about things that ticked me off, things that inspired me, and prayers on paper. My freedom cry happened on bended knee and paper dreams. But, the journey was never meant for only me.
When we start a freedom journey to wholeness we give others permission to do the same thing. We miss out on really awesome things if we say things like, “I’m too much of a mess to make a difference.”
Your mess has a very powerful message; so don’t be afraid to use your best words and sometimes your worst words until you figure out how to tell your brave, messed up story.
I talked for hours with friends and heard phrases like, “Me too” and “What can we do to help women be free from this?”
We spilled out our thoughts across the table, shared a meal, and found our message. The freedom journey is sweeter when we take others with along for the wild, beautiful ride. Our connective thread that brings us girls together in those sacred moments of wrestling is this:
God is within us and will work through us.
“God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.” (Ps 46:5 NIV)
And, we are stronger together than we ever were standing scared and alone.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecc 4:9-12 NIV)
In many ways this is where big girls learn to hold hands again like they did when they were little.
If there is one thing I know about myself it’s this, I get girls. I just do. I have sisters, one of them my flesh and blood and is kind of like my other half. We are day and night different and yet somehow our mannerisms are so much alike. I adore her, am amazed by her, and I still love to dig in her closet all these years later. Together we are better and sometimes double the trouble. And even in our late thirties, we still say things like, “Don’t tell Mom.”
We were always compared. I hated it then. I still hate it now because day and night are equally glorious in my mind. You can’t have one without the other. When day runs out of sunlight and trees cast long shadows, we know the bright moon will show us its face and bring a beauty in our darkness. And isn’t it magical, these different kinds of light?
As a mother of two “day and night” daughters, I find myself holding my breath as people compare them. Like one is better than the other and I can’t see it because my love is unconditional for both of them. I only see two very different, world changers that light my world on fire and bring me such joy and sometimes madness. Because where there are little girls you will find a little bit of drama or a lot depending on the moment.
But sorry, I just don’t believe that girls are a problem and only capable of drama. I think that in time and as they grow they will be beautiful solutions and nurturers to those around them. Right now is the hard, figuring it out part. That’s called parenting and it’s the hardest, best thing I’ll ever do.
I kiss those girls when they start to cry.
I sternly correct them when it’s needed and I see something that needs to be addressed. I lovingly guide them and fiercely protect them because I know what a true gift I have in my day and night girls…and I wouldn’t change who they are for anything or who they are becoming. Even when it’s stinking hard and I want to pull my hair out.
I will always be the mom asking them to dance to a different beat if they want to. And when they write a messy song with misspelled words, I’ll ask them to sing it for me because I see how deep a nine-year-old drama queen can be. And I figure she’ll be taking me on trips one day if we are still on a ministry salary…
I see how diligent an eleven-year-old firstborn can be, how she craves the constant and needs a play-by-play of what our day might look like. I take her hand and say, “Make room for the spontaneous, you don’t have to always know what is coming next.” But, I’ll never ask her to not plan and make lists, because it’s apart of her and I love that.
I see the spark and passion in my tiny one and I rebuff the idea of “breaking her spirit” or asking her to be more “in-the-box” and easier to contain because I believe with all my heart that loving parenting, discipline with great fear and trembling, and bringing her up in knowledge of God will be exactly what she needs most.
By all means, baby girl, don’t you dare try to be like everyone else. How dull this world would be if we only had a one-size-fits-all mentality.
Shine the way and teach us how to be brave and small at the same time.
When you walk up to a complete stranger with compassion in your heart and ask them if you can pray with them…I ask God to show all the big girls how to be small again and give way to the miraculous inside of us. Hearts like that inherit the Kingdom, so don’t you dare forget that little girls say simple, powerful prayers and make a wounded stranger know they are loved and seen by God and by the smallest, unpredictable lady in training.
By all means, predictable firstborn, plan and schedule away…if that is what makes you feel comfortable in your changing skin. I’ll always have planners and paper for you, I think you will change the world and organize it later. I love the wheels that constantly turn and how you want to do so much, but have no idea where to start. But, don’t you dare for one-second doubt you can’t handle the change that is coming because I’ve watched you in amazement for eleven, short years and I know you can do all things through Christ, baby girl. And you’ll need to learn how to hustle…because sixth grade is brutal and you’ll be late to everything if you have to show up perfect.
You might always be picked last for the sportsy games at recess, I’m sorry about that. You get that from me.
You might pee in your pants sitting on second base like I did in the first grade and figure out that cheering for others is what you do best. So cheer. Be the girl that celebrates what you cannot do and clap till your hands hurt and the dusty pee stain dries. You’ll laugh about it later, I pinkie promise.
And when the jealousy comes, and trust me it will, cheer louder until you can’t hear it telling you that you’re supposed to be better at something you hate doing anyways.
You will have a lifetime to figure out what you love and what you want. Try it all if you want, even if it scares you a little. Or makes you pee in your pants. It happens.
There will be days you wished you were like your little sister.
Or like your big sister.
Or like an airbrushed star on the cover of a magazine. Lord, I hope not.
Oh, what you will miss out on in life trying to be something that you are not…when who you are becoming is your greatest gift to God, to me, and to the world.
Maybe you’ll be an overachiever. Maybe you won’t care what others think at all. Maybe you’ll make messy art and wreck every surface and tabletop in our house.
Make art anyways.
Make a mess.
Be a mess.
Clean up your mess.
And I’m going to be there to help you make art and figure out how to lead and how to follow…and that some boys are punks. Don’t even get me started.
And sweet Jesus, I’m going to need some help with the preteen, and in between, and the fifty shades of awkward that just invaded our tiny cottage.
I flashback to the moments of watching you walk up to the unknown little girls at parks and poolside and hearing you say this…
“Hi. Do you want to be friends?”
An introduction and an invitation, then blank stares from wanting to belong turn to smiles as you would take each others hand and rush off to play with sweet sunshine and summertime on your faces.
Sweet, grownup girls,
Don’t let your blank stares from wanting to belong and quick default of comparison be the noose around beautiful necks. Reject the idea that different from you is wrong, or that your gloriously differentness is a mistake or doesn’t fit.
Let’s skip and trip and be beautifully awkward together because hand-in- hand we are always better.