Usually I only look at the pictures, but this time I’m reading the whole June 2015 National Geographic article about the little girls, in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, who are chosen to be worshiped as goddesses.
A six-year-old girl is asked what she’ll do if she’s chosen to be a kumari, or living goddess.
“I’ll keep quiet,” she says. “I won’t be allowed to go to school. I’ll study at home and receive worship every day.”
I can’t look away from the vivid picture of a little girl being carried through town in a mobile temple, as people crowd around her during a festival. It seems appalling to me.
Until I make the shocking connection that this is the philosophy of our current culture.
We look at our young women and try to build up their self-esteem by saying, You are powerful. You are smart. You are worthy. We ask our young women to look inside and find something amazing within themselves.
We bow down to them and pour on the praise.
You are wonderful. You are beautiful.
You are a goddess.
But what happens when a young woman takes an honest look at herself and sees that even on her best day she has moments of selfishness or anger or lies? What happens when a young woman looks in the mirror at the end of the day and sees the crown we’ve placed on her head but sees the sin inside her own heart?
Paul, in his letter to the Roman church, provides a different message for us to give our daughters:
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23 NIV)
Instead of expecting worshipers to come to her on bent knee, proclaiming her value, I want my daughter to bend her knees.
Right now my daughter is working the register at a plant nursery. The other day she held out her legs and said, “Oh, I forgot to wash my knees after work today.” They were black with dirt because she bent down on the floor all day, to put boxes of flowers in people’s carts.
This is how I want my daughter’s knees to look.
I want her to know there is nothing inside of herself that makes her worthy of God’s love. She is a sinner. She is a weak human who will fail again and again.
I want to see my little girl go in humility to the cross of Christ, where she will find that she is loved –not because of who she is– but because God has chosen to love her. He has chosen to forgive her sins, to make her his own, and to transform her into a blameless woman.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 NIV)
Tell your little girl this:
You are not worthy because of anything you have done, but because you are loved by God.
What do we do when our daughters stand in front of the mirror? Do we tell them they are a goddess?
No, we tell them there is a place where they can take their feelings of failure and worthlessness and find everlasting love. We do not ask them to look inside of themselves.
We point them to the cross of Christ.