This afternoon, Amy and I took the kids to the local McDonalds to enjoy the nice weather and have a little family time. Of course, the place was packed with green-clad college students partying it up on account of St. Patrick's day. Many were already inebriated, and many of the young women were wearing outfits that would make you blush.
One pretty young woman made faces with Jada, and Jada couldn't take her eyes off her because she had multiple green bead necklaces. The young woman kindly took one necklace off and gave it to Jada, and then turned to us and said, "She's beautiful." We thanked her for her gracious words and her generosity.
But there was something else I wanted to tell her, but there was no way I could say it without it being misunderstood or misconstrued, so I said nothing. I wanted to reply to her, "And you're beautiful, too." Meaning that she was beautiful in and of herself, without having to wear certain clothes a certain way, without having to do or not do certain things for the guys she was likely to meet that night; and thus she needn't compromise herself, her body, or her values in a quest for acceptance or affirmation.
I said nothing to her, but I was mindful to talk to Jada later that night, and let her know that she was beautiful because God said so, and that she didn't need to act or dress or talk a certain way in search of approval or affection. I can only hope that Amy and I love her well enough for her to be secure in that truth; but some day it will be on her to decide whether she's OK being herself or whether she has to chase after false worth to be OK with herself.