It's a word we may use to describe someone… maybe their physical strength… maybe their ability to overcome any obstacle, heartache or challenge in their life… despite any roadblocks they press onward with strength and to others perhaps sheer astonishment not just survive but thrive and overcome.
It was a little after three o'clock in the afternoon, I'd picked my daughter up from school and we were driving to the store to pick up a few essentials we needed… milk, bread and some chocolate syrup… that does count as an essential, right? As I drove along the busy main road passing chain restaurants and big box stores like Sam's I heard a small voice call out from the backseat behind me.
"Daddy always says my hair looks ugly when I don't wear anything in it like a headband." she told me.
My hands gripped the wheel tightly in silent response and almost reflexively I pursed my lips… concentrating on my driving… slowing to a stop at the red light I rolled up the windows to turn on the air and then glanced in the rearview mirror at her sitting in the backseat. Dressed in her white polo shirt and slacks she looked out her window with a troubled expression crossing her little face.
"Did he say 'ugly'?" I asked in a neutral tone… "I mean, specifically 'ugly'?" I added.
The word "UGLY" spun like a loop in my head and I sat in shock by his words to her.
"Yes!" she responded with great force and nodded at me. "He says it's ugly when I don't have anything in it."…. then added "I mean… he doesn't even hardly have hair!" she exclaimed with great observation, throwing her hands up in the air... obviously having noticed the irony of the interaction between her and her father… including the difference in hairs on their heads.
With my back to her I couldn't help but silently affirm how true her point was…
With a deep breath I pressed the gas pedal when the light changed to green. Turning down the volume on the radio slightly I spoke slowly...
"Sweet pea, you are absolutely beautiful. Your hair is beautiful. Your hair is never ugly. Sometimes people use a poor choice of words. I believe this was one of those times. Your hair nor you are ugly. Remember that." I told her.
It was later that evening we went on a walk… to get outside and enjoy the fresh evening air. It had drizzled earlier and the streets were damp from the rain… occasional drops of water escaped the bright green foliage on the trees overhead and touched down on us like happy drops from Heaven as we walked. Children on bikes and scooters played in their driveways nearby as we passed by calling out hello to them. My daughter took long strides and her ponytail bobbed out from her well loved pink baseball cap. In her small hand she held a mini water bottle and as we strode at a quick pace I spoke…
"You know what?" I asked her.
"What?" she answered back.
"You know what I think is really beautiful? I think strength is beautiful. I believe being physically strong, being strong in what you believe in like morals and God... even humbly but fiercely believing in yourself... can all be seen as beautiful. Being beautiful isn't just about your looks or your hair, you know... or what you have on." I told her as our feet hit the pavement in sync with one another.
"Yep!" she agreed with a bob of her honey brown head and I smiled with affection for her.
It's imperative that girls today realize how beautiful being strong is. Beautiful isn't just about a pretty face. We as a society tend to place a woman's worth solely based on her beauty... with diets, shape wear and weight loss pills being promoted to women along with photoshop as does the fashion and model industry... women are often being deemed worthy or beautiful based on their waist width and breast size alone. But we know that does women such a disservice.
From the beginning of time in a little girls life we coo and exclaim how "beautiful" she is... of course she's beautiful... but that's not the entire picture by a long shot.
She's beautiful when it comes to strength... to pumping weights, to running and breaking a sweat… and giving birth. She's beautiful when it comes to speaking up, reaching out and spurring change in the world. She's beautiful when she is strong for those who don't have a voice and say what needs to be said even if it's not popular. She's undeniably beautiful when she is pushing herself to the next goal no matter how seemingly unreachable. She's beautiful when she sings the Lord's praises and speaks to Him in thankful gratitude. She's a pillar of beautiful strength when she tells someone God loves them when they've never been told and that they don't for a minute deserve the abuse they've endured.
A woman of strength holds her own... she is firm when someone attempts to invalidate her experiences. She doesn't accept the refutes regarding what she knows truly happened. She leads others to a place of beauty, of healing, of encouragement and affirmation. She shows strength in leadership and discards doubt when it tries to creep in... she lets go of insecurities and the absurdities in life that crop up... she says "yes" to taking charge and doesn't entertain being called "bossy" for it. She says "yes" to love and no to fear because where one exists the other rarely if ever can.
She is clothed in a vest of goodness and yet strikes with fierce determination in all she does. She may stumble occasionally yet she doesn't wallow in the puddles of life but instead leaps back up and keeps going. She gives hope to those who have been hurt, she shares her story to bridge the gap between herself and a stranger... she knows the importance of not just telling her daughter she's strong but that she's beautifully strong...
© gps-gracepowerstrength.blogspot.com ~ 2014