introverted, full of angst."
NIGELLA LAWSON, as seen on brainyquote.com
A fellow Instagrammer, whose daughter was turning fifteen, posed the question to her readers: What would you say to your daughter who is turning fifteen? Right away I knew what I'd say... if I had a daughter. They're lines found in the ancient book Song of Solomon, lines I read years ago that resonated deep in my heart at the time:
"O my dove, (here) . . . in the sheltered
and secret place of the steep pathway,
Let me see your face,
Let me hear your voice;
For your voice is sweet,
And your face is lovely."
If someone had spoken those words 'your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely' when I was a quiet, insecure young woman, I probably could have lived on them for the rest of my life. How I longed with every fiber of my being to be found lovely, and not to be found wanting in any way. My fifteen-year-old self always felt nervous that she would never quite measure up, never be pretty enough, or good enough. She worried the boys would never notice her or be interested in what she had to say. The beautiful movie stars of the 1950s were her initial standard... with their swishy dresses, beautifully styled hair, and lovely nails. Oh if I could only look like that, she yearned. Instead, my teen self would look in the mirror and see a pale face and the slight bump on the bridge of her nose from a childhood encounter with a swing. I couldn't see the pretty green eyes that looked back at me. Or that my blonde-turned-brown hair glinted with hints of auburn in the sunlight. I knew definitely what I'd say to Anne of Green Gables when she asked, "Which would you rather be if you had the choice—divinely beautiful or dazzlingly clever or angelically good?"
Barely twenty, I met my beautiful friend, Jean, and it wasn't long before we discovered we were kindred spirits. Enjoying similar things, finishing each other's sentences. Bosom friends, like Anne and Diane. One afternoon, maybe a lazy Sunday, we were hanging around in my tiny apartment. She wrote a poem. Which she gave to me. Titled The Rosebud - in which she wrote how she saw my life as a tightly furled rosebud that would one day mature and blossom. Several stanzas... those words were like water to parched ground - I drank them in.
Some years later I came across those words from Song of Solomon, and I felt the love and acceptance in those words all over again. My soul bloomed into maturity. I felt beautiful in my own skin, and I began to find my way to live a beautiful life as a single woman.
Of course it took a lifetime to learn that beauty is not just skin deep, that beauty is also shaped by our daily choices and attitudes, how we present ourselves, what we choose to focus on. It took me a lifetime to learn in my inmost self that God so loved me, so that I could 'hear' and believe for myself those beautiful words, 'your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.'
They've been in my heart ever since. And so I know the great value of speaking words of beauty into the lives of our girls and young women. Maybe not every woman needs to hear those particular words, but I think we all need to know we are loved as we are and accepted by the Beloved One. It helps us to love ourselves. Then, in response we turn to love and accept others.
Wishing you a beautiful day!
Top image by Silvia Rita from Pixabay