When I started my nanny job at the end of October, I fell in love with the little girl almost immediately. She didn’t have to do anything to make me feel that way. She was just being who she is, and I adored her for it. I still do. I know that when our baby is born I will fall in love again just as easily, only on a more intense scale being that this will be my child. He/she won’t have to do anything to earn my love. This baby hasn’t even taken his first breath, and he is already loved. A few weeks ago I was playing with the little girl I nanny for. She had just gotten this toy with a mirror and every time I turned the mirror to her she would light up when she saw her reflection. The family also has a large full-length mirror in the house and when we pass it I stop and let her look at herself. She always gives the same joyful reaction to seeing her reflection. It made me start to wonder, at what age does that change for us? Our initial instinct when we see what we look like as babies is happiness. She’s not sitting there critiquing herself or comparing herself to another. She’s not letting herself be defined by someone else. She’s just happy. At some point we all start to let others define our beauty and worth. We all do it. Yet, the thought of my child one day doing that just breaks my heart. How could my child not know how important he is?
A few days ago I heard that a 13 year-old girl from my small hometown committed suicide because she was being bullied for a very long time. I didn’t know the girl personally, but her story has been haunting me all week. She had reached a place where she thought she had no worth at all. I can guarantee you her family felt very differently. I have no idea what her home life was like. Maybe her parents were telling her everyday how much they loved her. Sometimes, unfortunately, we choose not to hear that. My parents were always extremely supportive of me and they’ve continued to be into my adult life. But there were times growing up that their words of love and adoration didn’t penetrate my heart. Instead I focused on the boy who had teased me during recess saying that my glasses made me look like a toad. In those moments I was letting bullies define my value because I believed what they were saying. We’ve all done that in our lives. We’ve all let others dictate how we feel. It breaks my heart that this girl had begun to believe all the hurtful things that were being said to her.
Last summer I went to camp with Brendon’s youth group. I’ve been going to and working for summer Bible camps for over 10 years so I have heard some lackluster speakers, a handful of interesting ones and only a couple who have been exceptional. The speaker last summer, Josh Riebock, truly was an exception. He was raw and absolutely honest about his failures. He told us his story about how he completed the 12-step program for self-hatred. He really hated the person he was. During worship one of the evenings the band was singing a song with the lyrics, “So I'll stand, my soul Lord to You surrendered, all I am is yours, all I am is yours.” After the song Josh walked up to the microphone and said God had given him a revelation while we were singing. We as humans are so broken and it’s so easy for us to forget our value. He said he was finally starting to figure it out. As he was singing he realized that when we sing that song God is thinking, “You still don’t get it. You don’t get it.” Josh said as many times as we sing those words to God, He is singing it back to us a hundred million times louder saying, ‘No, all I AM is yours.” We won’t ever begin to understand our worth until we link our identity with the One who created us. That’s when we stop letting others define us and allow ourselves to be defined by Him. Yes, I’m a little dorky sometimes, yes, I suppose my glasses do make me look like a toad to some people, but my life has an incredible and irreplaceable value. I have a God who not only created me, but loved and accepted me before I even took my first breath. Out of all the things I want my child to learn in life, embracing the wholeness of God’s love is my most sincere hope.
As I was writing this post I looked up Josh on Facebook and someone had tagged him in one of his speeches. I started listening to it and a smile slowly crept across my face as I realized how much his topic correlates with what has been on my heart this week.
To hear his video go to http://www.facebook.com/pages/Josh-Riebock/221730051185951 and scroll down to April 9th. (There's a long intro you can skip over)
Blessings, Shanna :)
About the Author: I'm Shanna, mother-to-be, photographer, wife, and stay-at-home mom in training. How do you train to be a stay-at-home mom? I work as a nanny during the day for a sweet baby girl who has spoiled me to the point where I am now delusional enough to think that every baby can put themselves to sleep on a regular basis.