2 | verse of the week.

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i was in the dressing room of target this weekend when i heard it. 

a little girl with her mother in the room beside me was trying on dresses. 

"i can't wear this one," she said sadly. the mother sighed. 

"why not?"

"because," she said. "my knees are ugly." 

i paused while trying on my swimsuit, my heart dropping as i heard this revelation

by a little girl who couldn't be more than nine or ten. 

"they have bruises all over them. i play outside too much." the disappointment and shame in her voice was evident.

i wanted to cry out, 

"you are beautiful! bruises and all. don't let anyone tell you differently!"

but i bit my lip and continued trying on suits. 

i waited for the mother to contradict her, to tell her something like, "sweetie, you look pretty in the dress," but there was nothing. only some grumbling, the shuffling of clothes, the mother saying it was time to go. 

admittedly, the mother may have been tired. no doubt having a daughter entering her tweens is a tough job. but it broke my heart to hear this little girl, already criticizing her body, ashamed that she plays outside, as if it's not "lady-like." self-conscious about (of all things) her knees. 

when does it start, i wondered? the bashing of our bodies, of ourselves. when do we lose the innocence where we feel content with who God made us and start to believe the lies society tells us? that we can't wear a dress because our knees don't look "normal"--and this is only the beginning. the lies that we are not good enough?

i forget so often how much God loves me--despite all of my humanly imperfections, both internal and external. we all forget, even this beautiful little girl who feels guilty about her knees. 

i was that little girl once, too. i remember the laughter in my elementary gym class before i started shaving my legs; i remember my mother buying me a razor, and my confusion--what was wrong with me? and other realizations too: why was i taller than all the boys? why did i have to wear glasses? these things turned into insecurities, things i was ashamed of and wished i could hide from everyone else. 

self-judgment is crippling. it carries into our daily lives, where we feel awkward or uncertain, jealous and critical of others. i've grown up in a society where images of stick-thin, tan, blonde, sexy women bombard me on a daily basis. i've found myself more often than not hating my body (yeah, it doesn't matter if you're thin, we all do it) and shaming myself for how i've been made. 

but God made me, and in His own image. i am wonderfully made, and as Song of Songs 4:1 says, 

"How beautiful you are, my darling. Oh, how beautiful." 

it's a simple verse, and yes it may be directed toward a lover--but at the same time, i can feel God in this book, proclaiming His love for us. His tender, intimate love. why do we continuously put ourselves down? we will never be perfect--neither in looks nor action. but that shouldn't be a concern: our focus is above, on God. punishing ourselves is useless, and God's heart breaks for us when we engage in harmful talk and habits. why are we so afraid to be confident?

we are beautiful. and we should be proud of the women God has made each and every one of us. we are all so unique, truly one of a kind. why not rejoice in the miracle of our creation and be thankful that God loves us despite everything against us?

this week, i want to look in the mirror and tell myself i love myself, just the way God made me. just the way He sees me: for in His eyes, i am beautiful and loved. it seems so simple, doesn't it?

again, feel free to copy the image below into your own "Verse of the Week" post and provide a link back to my blog :)