The Things You Realize on a Rainy Monday Morning

The note came home last week: “School picture day will be next Wednesday. Each child will be photographed individually for the yearbook. Prints will be available for purchase.”

Just another note, perhaps, with just another thing to mark on the calendar. But for this mama, it sparked a whirlwind of harried thoughts.

“It says blue background. What’s she going to wear? She doesn’t have anything new….or even sort of new….it needs to be cute because these pictures are important…..” 

Within minutes I found myself standing in front of her closet, staring critically at the closet full of clothes that my mind said were not good enough. “I’ll have to go buy her something new…”

When I told her I was going to get her something new to wear for pictures, she shrugged indifferently and said, “Okay. Just as long as it’s blue.” She didn’t really care, it seemed, as long as it was her favorite color; I, though, was absurdly preoccupied with finding something *just right* for her all-important school picture.

And it wasn’t until this morning, as I was walking to my car in the rain through the Target parking lot, that I realized what was happening: I was dangerously close to projecting my own issues onto my daughter.

If you’ve read my blog for long, you know that image – specifically, my clothing – is an issue for me. Last spring I even gave up most of my wardrobe for Lent, wearing only white shirts and jeans for the entire season, in an effort to reboot my thinking and refocus on my identity in Christ – not my clothes. And now, it seemed, I was making my issue her issue. If she wasn’t concerned about her clothes for pictures, I would be concerned on her behalf. And in so doing, I realized with horror that I could be passing on the same message to her that I have tried to shake off myself: Your clothes define you because that’s what people see. Look good, or they won’t approve.

To be honest, the whole thing has scared me this morning. While I know my daughter will grow up and have issues of her own, I don’t want to be the source of those issues. I don’t want her to inherit second-generation struggles. I want to be a source of life-giving Truth for her, not just another fountain spewing forth the shallow truth of the world.

It’s hard. Yeah, I want her to understand it’s important to take pride in how you look – to clean yourself up and look nice. But even as I type that, I think, “Do I really want her to think that? Do I want her to even consider that? Is it really important at all?” I know, of course, that it’s not the most important thing, but is it important at all?

And so today I’m caught in a strange place. I know some of the things I want to teach her, but at the same time, I’m not sure those are things I want her to know. Quite simply, I’m confused. And quite frankly, I just pray that God will show me what to do. I certainly don’t know how to handle this myself.

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