We went to the orthodontist last week for a consult. All through the appointment, my daughter told anyone who would listen that she didn't want braces. I knew she wasn't a fan of the idea, but somehow I had missed the clues that she was really upset about the idea.
We got in the car to go home, and she burst into tears. Uh oh. There was clearly more going on here than just getting braces. They weren't even on her teeth yet and she was distraught.
She tells me she doesn't want braces because she won't be able to eat some of her favorite foods. But I think, deep down, she doesn't like change and she doesn't like the way they look.
No amount of explaining the reasons for the braces or reminding her that she won't have to wear them in high school is breaking through her disgruntled wall.
And, so I'm reminded that my kids need to know they're beautiful. And we don't tell them enough.
I'm not talking about giving your children big heads and getting stuck on their physical beauty. But every child, every person, needs to know they are beautiful, simply because they are God's creation. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says "He has made everything beautiful in its time."
Our kids need to know that God thinks they are beautiful.
They need to know that their beauty is made up of more than the color of their hair, the height of their body and the clothes that they wear.
They need to know that true beauty comes from the inside, from the joy we find in God, from serving other people, from being kind with our words.
They need to know that braces, bad haircuts, and fashion faux pas don't make them any less beautiful in our eyes or in God's eyes.
In a world obsessed with physical perfection, a world of stick-thin models, actors with bulked up muscles and Photoshopped magazine covers, we need to help our kids understand God's yardstick for beauty.
When we forget to tell our kids they're beautiful, when we don't reinforce God's standards of beauty over the world's, we let our kids buy into the myth that beauty is something that's dependent on the opinion of others. We let them get caught up in the world's perceptions instead of God's.
So, when your kids say something kind, when they do something well, when they show grace to others, when they remember to be polite, tell them that they're beautiful. Remind them that it's the stuff that's on the inside that matters and that God thinks they're beautiful. Because they are.