The air conditioner hums and I kiss my daughter on the cheek, the sour scratch of lemonade still fresh at the back of my throat. A fleeting memory blows through my mind like the breeze does on hot, humid summer days and I reach for my daughter’s story Bible, chasing it. I open pages to bright pictures of mountains and of birds, of smiling Adam and Eve, of curly blue-green ocean waves. I read the words out loud, but I’m really reading to myself.
“God saw all that he had made and he loved them. And they were lovely because he loved them.”
Oh, how those words quench my thirsty soul like that sour lemonade. I read on.
“And when God saw them he was like a new dad. ‘You look like me,’ he said. ‘You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever made!” God loved them with all of his heart. And they were lovely because he loved them.”
And my voice breaks and a tear slips down my cheek. Lovely. Lovely because he loves us.
Today I have looked at my sweet daughter and I have thought about the stab of harsh words and mean looks. I have remembered the cold sweaty feeling you get from overhearing mean girls whisper and stare. I have thought about how to prepare my daughter for this ugly part of being a woman.
Today I have talked with my mother about why people argue and fight so much about little things like wearing bikinis, pretending like Jesus cared about things that don’t really matter and ignoring things that do. About why we choose to hold onto our soapboxes instead of holding onto one another’s hearts.
Into all of this slip the sweet words of my daughter’s little story Bible. “They were lovely because he loved them.” Not because the mean girls accepted them. Not because they believed all the right things and refused to talk to anyone who didn’t. Not because they chose a hill to die on regardless of how many bodies fell around them.
Because. he. loved. them.
This is what I hope to share with my daughter. This is what I hope to learn myself. That I am lovely because he loves me. That they are lovely because he loves them. No meanness can take that away. No rejection. No inclusion. No stubborn stomping on a soapbox makes me more lovely or makes others less lovely. There’s no room for pride when my loveliness is a gift. No room for sulking because I haven’t been included.
This is grace. We don’t deserve it and we cannot earn it. It made us lovely when we were not. And it changes everything.