(listen to this while you read this)
A letter to all my little girls from church and softball and work, and to all the other girls all over the world–little and big–who have ever looked up to a “big girl.”
Dear little girl,
You know those big girls you like to hang around? The ones you like to talk to, and sit on their laps–or maybe you can only bring yourself to admire them from afar? The tall girls with pointe shoes that you see in the parking lot as you leave ballet class, or the ones who help in your class at school, or the ones on stage at your church? Guess what: they’re not perfect. Really; I promise. I should know, because I am one of those big girls. Maybe you know me. Maybe you have sat on my lap before, or I’m on stage at your church. Or maybe you have no idea who I am. But I have a few things I need to tell you.
So first of all, I’m not perfect. And it’s okay. My hair is normally messy. I get bad grades sometimes. When I play softball, I strike out sometimes. I’m not always nice to everybody. I will never be perfect; I will always fall short of the standard Jesus has set for me.
Next: I am not grown-up just because I have keys on a lanyard, and I act confident, and I coach first base on your softball team. Guess what: most days, I probably have less of a clue about life than you do. Even though, to your little eyes, I might look like I have it all together–I absolutely don’t. Although you might not believe it, chances are we have a lot of the same worries. Well, except for one: I worry that I’m not setting a good enough example for you. That maybe I’m failing a little too much. But then I remember–I’m not perfect, and it’s okay. I’ll just be present for you, and it will be enough.
So that’s me. Now let’s talk about you. I know a lot of little girls, and I love every one of you. I love the little girls who give me big hugs and who are good listeners and pleasant to be around, and I love the little firecrackers that tend to talk in class a bit more than they should and don’t sit in my lap because they are too busy running around taking care of things. Whichever one you are, chances are that at some point you will be insecure about your personality. I want you to know this: you are never not enough for the grace of God, and you are never too much for the grace of God. Read that again. Let it sink in. And I know, I know I know I know, that that is something that is easy to write and read, but so much harder to believe and put into practice. But, please–believe it.
I know lots of older girls, too. I have friends in middle school. One of these friends used to act differently around me than anyone else. She would flip her hair and talk about her boyfriend, her makeup. It made me sad in a deep way that I can’t really explain. Dear girl who is in a rush to grow up and have something in common with the “big girls:” don’t rush. Slow down. Please don’t worry about boyfriends and makeup–just stay close to Jesus.
I have friends in high school and college. High schoolers–does it feel surreal to be in this position? Can you pinpoint the exact moment when you slipped from little girl to big girl, or was it a slow transition? Doesn’t it feel funny to be the older one now–to have little girls shyly coming up to you, and to be the babysitter instead of the one being babysat? We have a responsibility now, we high school girls and college girls. All girls, really. I don’t care how young you are or how many little girls you think you don’t know–somebody is always watching you, even if it’s just a stranger behind you in the checkout line. It’s a serious responsibility; I have some journals from when I was about ten in which I wrote everything I observed the teenage girls at my church wearing, doing, and saying. Everything. Then four or five years later, a little girl I know was trying on a blue jean skirt. She said, “I look just like my friend Hailey!” I remember being so glad she said it about a blue jean skirt and not something else. It’s a big responsibility. But now you know–you don’t have to perfect for them. You just have to be present.
Also, fellow big girls–haven’t you noticed? Jesus has been your most constant and real Friend. People will come in and out of your life, but at the end of the day, He’ll always be there. It’s something you hear in Sunday School, but it never became real to me until recently.
So here’s what I want to say. To all my little girls–I am not perfect. I do not have it all together. I will fail you. One day I might not be in your life anymore, but you’ll always have Jesus, and I hope you and I will spend eternity together in heaven.
To my sweet little girls who are worried about hair and makeup and clothes: truth is, you all are already beautiful, whether or not you’re wearing mascara.
Dear girl who is a perfectionist and feels like you have to work to earn the grace of God: you don’t. He will take you exactly as you are.
Dear girl who feels like you never measure up, like you’re never good enough: His grace has covered you and that is all you need.
Dear girl who feels like you’re too wild for God, that He can’t help you or He doesn’t want too: you’re wrong. He still loves you.
Dear girl who thinks you’re annoying me, or who is too shy to come talk to me, or who is afraid if you talk in class I won’t like you anymore: you are never annoying me. Please talk to me. I will still like you. I’ve talked in class a few times myself; remember, I’m not perfect. You and I have a lot in common, probably more than you think.
If you missed the link at the top of this, go listen to Handpainted by Cozi Zuehlsdorff. It expresses everything I want to say to you so beautifully.
In your smile, I’ll be honest
Perfect love was all I saw
That one flower, that grows tallest
Is just one inch closer to God
Pretty daisy, let His promises
Shine on you like stars
Those things that make you you, He planned every single one
Painted on the canvas, took two steps back and smiled
[your name]’s done
I love being your “big girl.” It’s my favorite thing in the world. I’ve been sitting here working on this post and listening to Handpainted for a while, thinking about just how much I love it, and how much I want you to know the things I’ve told you here. You are so very heavy on my heart tonight, little girl. You needed to read this, I can feel it.
One day you’ll be the big girl. I know you’ll be a good one; not because of anything I’ve said to you, but because of Jesus. The only way I could ever be any kind of a good big girl to you is because of Jesus. That’s the bottom line–Jesus–and it’s the biggest thing I want to tell you. Keep your eyes on Him, and everything else will fall into place.