Dear Beautiful Girl –
Someday, I’ll be sitting in an auditorium watching you do something great. You’ll be dancing in a recital, or competing in a spelling bee – maybe you’ll be throwing a basketball, acting in a play, or accepting a scholarship or a diploma. I will be so proud of you (I am so proud of you), you will be so proud of you, we will be so proud. You were made for amazing things, tiny beautiful one, and one of the things I look most forward to is watching you discover your passions, follow the things that interest you, develop your skills, and excel at what you love.
But you are born into a world that idolizes accomplishment, one that praises achievement and revels in competition. You and your classmates and friends will be always, always pushed to do better, to ace tests, to learn faster, to win harder, to do more. The pace at which we expect folks to move -brains to process, screens to update, things to change – is on a recklessrunawaytrain sort of detour to doom. You will have to function in this place, tiny golden one, with your love of breezes and quiet songs. You will be graded and rated and identified by all of the many, too many, things that you do.
If I can give you something, love of mine, let it be gratitude.
Because you will be tempted, in this doing, to begin to define yourself by what you have, by what you can, by what you’ve done, instead of by what you are and who you belong to. You will be encouraged to build your home in the things you have acquired. You will be praised for the work of your hands.
Let your work be your joy, little girl, but not your identity.
You are gift and given. You are born and loved and written for bigger and grander and wider things than your human hands, my human hands, any human hands can craft. When you can see the world and all that’s in it as a love letter instead of something to be conquered, you are released from the burden of having to carve your own way. You can breathe and huddle in the warmth of a world that doesn’t require you to win it. All of this, everything you will do and see and earn and be, all of it needs you, but all of it is given to you. You don’t have to earn your place here, lovely mine. You are not in charge of making all the things work out perfectly. This life you are living is a love song, and each note you’re hearing is the work of a beautiful God through your beautiful soul.
If you can find, every day, the simplest gratitude – the appreciation for air and taste and wood and steel and touch and home – you have everything you need. You are everything you need to be. You are His, and mine, and we are for you. There is wonder in everything, and that wonder already belongs to you. It’s given to you. You are given to it.
There are moments when I catch your reflection in the rear view mirror, when you nuzzle your tiny face just under my collarbone and sigh, when you grace us with your unicorn laugh. In these moments, I am overcome, and there are no words for the gratitude. It’s a prayer that manifests in a lump in the back of my throat, a welling of the eyes, a whispered “Thank you” and a breath or two of unadulterated awe. Those moments, most beautiful girl, are where I would have you build your home and live. Those moments, that gratitude, that purest thankful surrender – freedom is born there. You can live your life in full assurance of love and grace and safety and all that is warm if you build it on those moments. Everything that is good, everything that is noble, all that is holy is found there – build on that quietist, most profoundly grateful prayer.
You are His. You are given. All the world is yours to receive.