Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I Pray That She'll be Ordinary

I linked to a post by Heather recently and promised alongside the link to follow it up with my own blog post. In her post, Heather talked about the fear she had after she sat in a coffee shop listening to a group of nasty old men bragging to each other about their adventures during their glory days. Adventures with women. Beautiful women. The fear that caught her in the night after hearing those voices was a fear that I've experienced many times. A fear that her daughter would be beautiful.

I am not beautiful. Or even pretty, really. I'm ordinary. Pretty plain. I am what a lot of people call "cute". On my good days. When I work at it.

And I'm okay with that. Nobody needs to leave a comment saying "You are beautiful". There were many times during my adolescence when I wished for physical beauty and it wasn't easy, but I'm pretty past that now. My mom told me once that it was better to be a "cute girl" than a "pretty" one, because, as a rule, cute girls turn into cute middle aged women and then cute old ladies, whereas beauty, especially what we in our culture call "hott" or "sexy" fades and leaves you without much. I appreciated my mom not lying to me and telling me I was as pretty as someone else, but I also appreciated the compliment.

Also, I like to think I've grown in my depth as person and I just care more about other things. That's not to say I don't wish for other, equally shallow things or that I don't covet things other people have from time to time. I do. But more and more often, the things grow less and less superficial. I don't want to be more beautiful. I want to be more caring. I want to be more hospitable. I want to serve others better. I want my heart to be more open to people our world says are undesirable. I want to be a better time manager. I want to do better about slowing down and enjoying little moments. I want to notice beautiful things. I want to be a better writer. I want to take better photographs. I want to create beautiful things. I want to cook healthier. I want to be more educated in world affairs. I want to understand Christ more. I'm not saying that I've arrived (have you noticed my baby clothes addiction??), but my priorities have changed. And I hope they continue to change.

Along with that, something changed in my perception of the word "beautiful" when Peyton and I began dating and subsequently talking about it. [Be forewarned: Peyton and I are almost always up for a game of semantics.] He explained, first, that he feels there is a difference between sexy (which is an appropriate way to view your spouse, as it just means "beautiful/handsome, but with major sex appeal") and hott (which is basically a trashy version of sexy). Hott is usually more related to how a girl (or guy, I guess?) is dressed and how they present themselves and in order to be "hott" a girl doesn't really even have to be pretty. Of course, these are Peyton's own weird little connotations. Anyway, he further explained that pretty describes solely the physical characteristics of a girl, while beautiful is an all-encompassing term that describes a person's whole being- her heart, and soul, and mind, and of course, physical attributes, too. He preceded to tell me that, although given the time, he could probably think of a list of girls prettier than me, I was, in his opinion, the most beautiful woman in the world. I'm sure some people would take offense, but to me it was, and is to date, one of the greatest compliments he's ever given me.

I grew up with someone who was (and is) ridiculously beautiful. I struggled a lot with being jealous of my sister and occasionally, I do still struggle with it. But, by and large, I've come to peace with all of that. And it's not entirely because I've embraced my "cute" image or because I gained a depth of thinking. It's not even because of Peyton's life changing theory on true beauty. It's because being the the beauty is hard.

It's hard because you don't know if a boy loves you for your heart or for what is directly above your heart. It's hard because other girls are always jealous of you. It's hard because you have to fight off crazy, testosterone driven guys all. the. time. It's hard because people have ulterior motives. It's hard because people makes jokes about your body. It's hard because people don't take you as seriously.

We have so much work ahead of us. I want Ann Peyton to feel beautiful. Like she is a princess. Like any man would be beyond lucky to have her. But I also want her to know that is not where her worth lies. I want to teach her that it's not okay to use her body as a tool to gain a boy's attention and I want to make her aware of the instances when she might be doing that without even realizing that she is. I want her to know how to take pride in her appearance and I hope she doesn't have to go through the "unkempt" stage that I did where she wears ill fitting clothes and refuses to make any effort at all. I also want her to know that she can walk to the mailbox without make-up and that "natural" is almost always the best compliment.

I'd like to say that I believe that if we "raise her right", Ann Peyton will be a young woman who is strong enough in her faith and values herself enough that she won't be moved by any of these things. I'd like to say that regardless of if she is voted Most Beautiful (because she does have very striking features) or if she is the most homely girl in her class (because, as I've previously mentioned, one of those features is a unibrow), she will look at life through the same lense.

I just know it will be easier if she's ordinary.

And in a month, I'll be lying awake in bed, obsessing over how to teach my son the all important converses of these lessons. Praying his glory day exploits are filled with nothing more than holding the hand of a very ordinary girl and yet, like his father, acknowledging her beauty in his eyes and maybe trying to find the courage for a brief goodnight kiss on her front porch.


Nathalie said...

This is a beautifully (no pun intended) written post. I feel the same way about a lot of the things you mentioned. Thanks for sharing!

Mallory Pickering said...

"I want to notice beautiful things."

I like this line a lot.
Great post!

Rachel said...

I loved this post. Ann Peyton will treasure this one day.

Anonymous said...

Best post you've ever written.

The Jones' said...

I truly loved reading this. It brought to mind a lot of stuff I forget to strive for. And sorry but I have to add that I think you are beautiful. One of the most beautifulest : ) pregggo girls I have seen. I know you did not write to hear that but wanted you to know.

Alia Joy said...

Yes, Don't you wish we could guarantee that they would know their beauty in God? You're doing a good job starting this early. It's such a battle for girls and us mommas need to set that example. Thanks for sharing.