“I kinda like myself” she said in a soft voice as we were sitting together in church. She was drawing in her notepad, and generally going about her business and what she said totally caught me off guard. I was floored. I looked at Hubs to see if he had noticed and whispered what she said to him. He looked over and said, “You are beautiful.” Wanting to affirm her, but not embarrass her or probe more into what she meant. We knew this meant a lot coming from her.
She is a bit more cautious than our other two. Her twin brother is quite talkative and a deep thinker. He always has something funny or interesting to say and could run the show if we let him. He often takes up more of our attention in discipline, and gets more laughs and praise as a result of his personality. She on the other hand, is a bit more fearful in new situations. She often asks for my help when doing art projects or trying to write things. She does not want to mess up. For awhile I have been a bit unsure of how to lead this sweet girl. I feel that some moderate shyness (normally when she is feeling uncertain of her surroundings) is only part of what she feels inside. So many parents seem to want to “un-shy” their children. That never felt right for me.
I have told my husband on a couple different occasions that if there is one kid we could totally screw up, it would be her. I don’t want to contribute to any of her struggles.
God has slowly been showing me ways to help her. She is the way she is for a reason. God created her. I don’t want to try and change her. But, I don’t want her to be fearful. I don’t want her to be lacking in the confidence she needs for whatever God will call her to someday. So we have made the conscious decision to try and encourage her as much as possible.
Yesterday Hubs told her he loved a painting she had done earlier in the day. She got an awkward smile on her face. She did not know what to say. (She probably looked like I did when someone complimented me on my weight loss earlier in the day. I felt like a deer caught in headlights. Why is it so hard for me to take a compliment?) I knew it was because he was pointing to a part she had me help her with. I directed his glance towards the part she had done by herself and he told her how nice it looked. She beamed. A natural happy smile that showed she was proud of her picture and thrilled he had appreciated her work.
This parenting thing is tricky. My brain quickly begins to swirl and take things too far: Too much confidence and we are afraid we lack humility. Clean the house instead of being with your children?… and our priorities are out of whack and our children won’t know they are important to us. Help a child complete her art work?… and she might have no true sense of accomplishment. If I build them up too much will it cause them to think that the world revolves around them? These are the things we might assume and apply to everything.
When she said those sweet words in church I knew it was big for her. As my parents noted, she had came to a place some people never reach. Am I there? Usually not. I leave a group of people and try to retrace all my words. Did I say something stupid? Did I hurt someones feelings? In an attempt to cover the silence, make myself look a certain way, or make someone feel better did I talk too much? Did I make them feel welcome? Why am I never anybody’s “best friend”? My insecurities come out when I am around other people. Why can’t I be more like my husband? Why can’t I be more easy going? Will my children be as messed up as I am? I pray that they will not. I also pray that in time God will continue to work in me and quiet the voices in my head.
As I talk to good friends I learn that we are not as different as I thought. Certain circumstances take us to places of self doubt. Different situations and relationships bring these feelings to the surface. For me, a lot of it started in Jr High and High School youth group when I was constantly made fun of and was the butt of many jokes (hard for me to even admit or type). Now, when I open my mouth I am afraid of being what they always acted like I was. An outsider. Never really fitting into either “group.” I still find myself in those situations. Stuck in two worlds. Trying to connect them, make sense of them, and decipher God’s plan for me.
Will my daughter still struggle with confidence? Of course she will. But, seeing these strides in her through that sweet phrase was affirming for us.