I can hear the sadness in your voice when you come to me at the kitchen sink.
Another girl has teased you for “being shy.” She scrunched up her nose and asked an accusing question: “What’s wrong with you?”
I dry my hands and pull you close. Tears sting my eyes. I rub circles into your back, like maybe I can massage the truth in.
I tell you how I’m so glad God made you just the way you are.
In a world where people are unfriended with the click of a mouse, I want you to know that you’ll never get de-loved by God—or by me. You’re loved because of who you are, not because of how extroverted you are, how smart you are, how skinny you are.
You are loved because you are. Period.
I breathe relief when you tell me how you know it solid: that God made you the way He made you. You know you’re God’s good idea.
But yeah, you’re tired of the expectations of people wanting you to be someone you’re not. Would it be too much, you ask, for other people to see you the way God sees you? Loved and approved, as is. In our house, we call it being “preapproved.”
In your voice, I hear the voices of thousands of other kids whose introversion is a point of confusion on the playground, in the church, in the classroom.
We live in a world that values the extrovert.
My heart hurts for every kid who would prefer NOT to stand up front to say their lines at the Christmas program. For every child who is presumed to have a flaw if he doesn’t raise his hand with the answer to a math problem.
Girl, hear me now:
Your quiet doesn’t make you broken. It makes you beautiful.
What if the world were filled with only bold extroverts? Who would stop talking long enough to be listeners? Who would be the pay-attention-ers? Who would slow down enough to really see, the way you see?
I wonder, what would happen if all the extroverts in all the schools and the churches would stop long enough to see the truth about the quiet child.
Maybe we would all see an inner peace in children like you, how you have your own beautiful shine.
Maybe we would all see what a deep thinker you are. Maybe we would learn how to enjoy simple moments with paint brushes and pens. To embrace the quiet.
My worst fear for us as parents and teachers is that we would accidentally break what God created while trying to recreate you in another image.
We would miss the miracle of you.
A while back, your sister held a microphone confidently at the front of a church, sharing about our trip to Haiti. You sat beside me. I kept squeezing your hand, and pressing my forehead against yours, because I wanted you to know that I am as proud of you as I am of her. You were on that same trip and did some amazing things. You simply don’t enjoy telling a big crowd about it.
I tucked you in that night and told God, out loud, how proud I was of you. (I don’t typically speak for God, but I think it’s safe to say that He agreed with me.)
Daughter, you live life more quietly than your sister and most of your friends, but not so quietly that I can’t hear who you really are.
For instance, I found out how you stuck up for a little boy at recess. Some older girls were calling him names. You told them to stop, but they didn’t listen. So you pulled the boy aside and encouraged him to tell a teacher. Which he did.
The next day, you helped that same boy when he fell off a swing.
Most likely, nobody is going to hand you a microphone to tell that story. And even if they asked, you would probably quietly decline.
And if you did decline the offer? Your mama will be in the front row, with her palm out, waiting to hold your hand in hers.
Jennifer Dukes Lee
Jennifer Dukes Lee is a storyteller and a grace dweller, blogging about faith at JenniferDukesLee.com. She is a writer for Dayspring’s incourage.me. Jennifer is author of the book Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval—and Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes. Love Idol is for anyone who needs to know that she has nothing to prove, that she is “preapproved” in Christ.
Love Idol has sparked a movement of women, declaring they are “preapproved.” Today, Jennifer is giving away THREE copies of her book, along with three “Preapproved” necklaces made exclusively for the Love Idol Movement.
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