The Lie that We Should Be Like the Other Girls

My seven-year-old buries her face into her pillow.  I sit beside her on the edge of her bed, unsure how to coax out what's troubling her.  When she finally opens up, her voice is pained.  "I'm not like the other girls.  I'm not popular like them.  I want to be more like them."

She's never talked this way before.  I listen quietly until all her words and tears are poured out, then I sit in silence.  In sadness.  This is my precious and wonderful girl, who, for some reason -- maybe a snub on the playground or a comment on the bus -- doesn't believe that she's enough, that she's right.  This is my girl who's clever and artistic, tenderhearted and compassionate, imaginative and kind.

This is the girl who once said, "I think it's time for me to start wearing clothes that match," and then, a mere two days later, dazzled the world in this outfit.


 
This is the seven-year-old girl who is delightful just the way she is.

My sadness fades, and in the depths of my heart, it's replaced with anger.  Something inside of me snaps -- some I-will-storm-heaven-on-this-child's-behalf gene that rises up in parents -- and, after composing myself a moment longer, I speak.

Child, that feeling that you'd be better off if you were someone else, not yourself?  That feeling that you don't measure up?  That you're not enough?  That others are somehow ahead of you?  Those feelings that seem so real in your heart and those thoughts that shout so loudly in your head?

They're lies from hell. 

They're utter lies, and they'll come at you whether you're seven, or seventeen, or thirty-seven, or fifty-seven.  So, dear one, I want to teach you how to recognize them for what they are.  And I want you to fight.  I want you to refuse to believe those lies and embrace who God Almighty made you to be.

I speak with authority because I'm not going to offer my daughter a pat answer that it'll all get better on its own.  I'm not going to provide a glib response that everything's okay.

Because everything is not okay.  I know too many women, myself included, who for years have entertained the lie that they're somehow not enough.  That somehow they should be a little less them, a little more someone else.  Women who compare themselves with others and, whether accurately or not, feel like they fall short.

Take my own writing, for instance.  Time and again I've circled around the thoughts that perhaps I should use this blog to be more holy and consistent like Heather, or more community-gathering like Jennifer.  Instead of writing what I love and feel called to write -- these posts loosely cobbled around the themes and nuances of ordinary life -- I've chided myself that maybe I ought to refine my approach, focus, and settle on a particular niche, like Susan who shines in DIY or Christiane who excels in cooking.  And I stew: Why aren't I more popular like Lisa Jo, or bigger like, oh, I don't know, every other blogger out there?

While I'm at it, why in the world am I not Joanna Gaines?

As I sit on the side of my daughter's bed, my voice steady and firm with conviction, I watch her sit up, wipe her eyes, and nod.  But what I didn't expect was the sense that God was speaking my own words directly back to me.

Robin, those feelings that you're somehow not doing enough or being enough?  Those thoughts that you're not quite like the other girls, that you're not popular?  That you should write like someone else? 

They're lies from hell.

Child, I made you to be you.  I made you to be you for a specific reason, for a specific time, for a specific purpose.  Don't miss your calling because you're wondering whether you should live like, or speak like, or write like, or have results like someone else.

I want to cry and stomp and punch the air and dance and shout all at once, but instead, I hug my daughter, look her in the eyes, and reaffirm that God made her enough.  She doesn't need to be anyone else; she's exactly who she's supposed to be.

I want her to hear this at age seven.  I want to own it at age thirty-seven.  I want to proclaim it to whoever has ears to hear, no matter how many years they've walked this earth.

There's no time to clamor and compare myself with others.  There's no time to worry about what other people think.  There's no time to wonder if life would be better if I was handed another woman's circumstances, appearance, talent, platform, popularity, success, or calling.

There's just no time.

Instead, these wild, singular lives of ours can be spent wholeheartedly on the purposes that God has for us to complete, those good works He's prepared in advance for us to do, knowing that our paths won't look exactly like those walked by someone else.  For me, right now, it's raising my children, loving my husband, teaching my college students, befriending my neighbors, serving my church and community, and yes, even writing this everyday life blog.

I don't want my daughter to be tied up in knots inside because she's not like the other girls.  She's not supposed to be just like them; she's supposed to be like her.

And I'm supposed to be like me.  And you're supposed to be like you.

It's a lie that we're supposed to be like the other girls (whoever they are), and if we buy into this lie, it'll will discourage and distract us from our own mission.

I'm not accepting the lie.  I choose to be myself -- that simultaneously broken yet full self -- and let God handle the outcomes with His ability.

Because that's enough.  It's enough, it's enough, it's enough.

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13 comments

  1. "I-will-storm-heaven-on-this-child's-behalf gene." I love that gene. And, my friend, I wish I could write like you. :)

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    1. I love that gene, too, and I suspect that I'd likely collapse without it.

      Your compliment has brightened my day immeasurably.

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  2. Oh my friend. This made me teary.

    I hear you on how this made you feel. I'm that mama too - I just get shredded apart on the inside when it comes to my girls' feelings getting hurt.

    But then... you did the switcharoo - those adult feelings. Oh yes, I get that too. God wants us to be happy with what we have to offer because all of us together make one heck of a team. Jesus is our enough... we don't have to be. I remind myself of that but this is the one area of my life that I feel attacked the most.

    Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful words... at times I want to be like you and string together sentences into a symphony of emotion and truth. Yes truth - you speak it and I love to listen.

    Blessings to you and your beautiful family.
    xoxo

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    1. Jennifer, you DO string sentences together into symphonies of emotion and truth! (You write better comments than I sometimes write blog posts. Just saying.) ;)

      I'm so glad you can relate, and I love your statement: Jesus is our enough. Indeed, indeed, He is.

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  3. This breaks my heart, even more so that it is starting at 7 now. I had a similar experience with Danielle when she was 13. My mom always said raising 9 children was not physically draining, but emotionally draining. When someone hurts your child you feel that hurt times 10.I will also never forget the day when Donnie came home from first grade and asked me "Mom why do you think I am so special but my teacher does not?" Needless to say those that know me KNOW that I was up at that school faster than I do not know what!! It happens to boys too. Danielle survived and got stronger. I had to move Donnie to private school, even home schooling him for a year. Robin, I love you and know what an incredible human being you are. I hate to tell you this will happen a few more times (x's 3). Stay strong.

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    1. First things first, hats off to your mom! Nine children! I can't even fathom, but I certainly understand that it's more emotionally draining than physically draining. (But, I find it physically draining on many days, too.) ;)

      You are a true mama bear, and I love that about your heart. Your love for your kids ALWAYS shines through, Karen.

      As for the road ahead with my girls, I know there will be more bumps, but God is so faithful to use them for our good, not for our detriment. We're going to make it!

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  4. Beautiful share! Glad you guys can have these talks :)

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    1. I was glad, too, Mari. Thanks for your kind words.

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  5. Oh, how I struggle with this, too, Robin! I've always struggled with ti myself, but seeing my girls struggle with it gives me a new perspective. I tell them these things and them I look in the mirror and feel like such a hypocrite. We are all beautiful and made just the way we are meant to be. Thank you for the poignant reminder.

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    1. You're so welcome, Lisa. I want these lessons rooted deeply in my heart... it helps as we're trying to help them take root in our kids' hearts, doesn't it?

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  6. I struggled with this for most of my life, and now I see my teenage daughter and my 7 year old son struggling the same way. Thank you so much for this post! I know exactly what I am going to say to them (and myself) next time this comes up. Seriously, thank you so much for this!

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  7. Thank you for this! It's something I needed for myself and also to remember to my girls someday! This is often really hard for me, but I pray to live this out for God and for them! Thanks for linking up at Mama Shares Monday

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