Written by Becky Tankersley
Edited by Tara Sanders
My 6-year old and I went shopping for some t-shirts for school. (We live in Atlanta which means it can be chilly in the morning and hot by noon, so we layer up!) She picked out a shirt with text message emojis because she thought it was super cute, and she felt excited to wear it.
Later that week I helped her pick out her clothes for school. I held up the shirt and said “Hey, do you want to wear your new shirt tomorrow?”
She shuffled her feet and looked down. “No….” she replied. “Why not?” I asked, surprised.
“Well… I’m afraid the other kids at school won’t like it, and they’ll get mad at me or think it’s dumb.”
I felt a bit stunned. I knew this day would come; the day when the opinions of others and the judgements of this world would impact her choices and her feelings about herself. But I’ll be honest—I didn’t expect it to start at 6. I thought this was one of those tween or pre-teen problems that was a few years ahead of us; certainly not now. A small piece of my heart broke for her, and hurt welled in me over our broken world—a world that would make my precious girl ever doubt how amazing and incredible she is. This—the doubts—starts now; at the sweet, tender age of 6.
As a woman, and as a person, I certainly relate to how she feels. Can’t we all? Doubt is always there in the back of our minds, making us question what we say, what we do, what we wear, and how we behave. It’s exhausting.
This week as I spent time in God’s word, and the Lord spoke to me about these feelings we all experience; the doubt, the fear of judgement, and most of all our inclination to hide. These are not new concepts.
“But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.””
~Genesis 3:9-10 (NIV)
From the beginning of time, actually, since the fall, we’ve been hiding from God. In Genesis we’re told God was walking through the garden when Adam and Eve, ashamed for disobeying God, hid from Him. They were afraid, and doubted His love for them. God was there… God was seeking them out… God was looking for them. Why? Not because He was angry, but because He cared for them and He loved them. Yet they hid. It’s in our core to hide ourselves when we’re afraid of what others will think of us or when we feel doubt or shame.
One of the beautiful qualities of children, especially young ones, is they have no doubt or shame or guilt… they love who they are, know they are loved, and walk confidently in that knowledge. But as we grow, at some point, the world creeps in and whispers “Are you sure? Are you sure you’re enough? I don’t know about that….” And my, how strong that whisper is.
Yet there’s another whisper that calls for our attention. The whisper of the Lord saying “I’m here. I’m enough. I’m walking through the garden of your life, looking for you. Seeking you. Loving you. Yes, I know you have doubts, but there is no doubt in my love for you.”
Of course Adam and Eve had to face up to what they had done. Of course the Lord reacted accordingly. But lest we forget, He acted in love when He made the first clothes to cover them and help them to deal with the shame they felt. In the midst of their shame, God clothed them not only to cover their nakedness, but because He loved them. Where we feel doubt, He feels love and compassion.
Back to that moment, as I listened to my daughter share her fears, I took a deep breath and hugged her and told her what other people think doesn’t matter. I told her that I understood how she felt… and life and growing up are hard. But if she lives her life trying to make everyone else in the world happy, the one person who will never be happy is her. She is enough, just as she is—the beautiful soul God designed her to be.
Over the past few days, once my daughter is asleep, I go into her room and look at her, trying to figure out how in the world she grew up so quickly. Six years seems like it should pass a lot slower than it has. I lean down and place my hand on her and pray for her. I pray for her heart… her spirit… her mind… and her soul. I pray God will wrap His arms around her every day. And I remember that as much as I feel like she’s mine… she’s not. She belongs to Him. I, as a mother, am simply a steward. God has plans for her, and right now it’s my job to protect her, build her up, and remind her how much she is loved, just as she is.
When staring down my own doubts a year ago, I heard “come out of hiding” and immediately caught my breath. When I replayed it, I broke down in tears. We’ve all been hiding, and doubting ourselves, for so long. It’s time to come out, friends. God is waiting for us with open arms.
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