Monday, February 4, 2013

Beautiful Girls (and Boys) we Haven't Met....Yet

  A good friend of mine made my day recently when she told me some very happy news.  "I'm pregnant!"  Then came the second part,  "But don't tell anyone..."  

  How many times I've heard those words, and each time the apprehension and pain are conveyed.  If it's happened to you, you know what I mean.  The last time that same friend had that same happy news, she had to make the rounds of calls a few weeks later to say, "I lost the baby."  She's afraid to share this blessing because she's afraid she'll have to share another loss.  

  It hurts to lose a baby.  Sometimes physically, always emotionally.  So much hope is built up in a pregnancy, so much expectation and excitement.  I myself have had to make the rounds of "I lost the baby" calls four heart-wrenching times.  The loss became too much for my husband and me, and the risk to my health was becoming too high, so we decided to stop. We have two amazing children, though, many couples have none.  

  Another woman I know well tried for seventeen years to have a baby, and when I got the call, "I'm pregnant!", I was overjoyed.  Her baby died 2 weeks before the due date.  She went into labor the way we all do, the baby boy was born perfectly formed and beautiful, and we had a memorial service for him several days later.  

  Another beautiful friend has stopped telling anyone, except her husband, when she has a positive pregnancy test.  She's lost several, and she's almost lost hope.  

  One mother I know was pregnant with twins, and miscarried one.  Another was pregnant with twins, and lost them both.  

  A new friend of mine has spent thousands on fertility treatments and became, joyfully and finally, pregnant.  This past Sunday was her due date.  But instead of being in the hospital giving birth to her baby girl, she and her husband were doing a balloon release in memory of the precious daughter they lost.  

  Another friend blamed herself for working too hard the day before she lost her baby.  One had a little wine before she knew she was pregnant and blamed that for her loss.  Still another tripped on the stairs in her home and blamed that.  Self-blame and desperate searches for 'the reason' are as rampant as they are futile.  

  I know many, many women with stories of loss.  I know them because I told them my own story.  Because when we share the loss with one another, the burden becomes easier to bear.  

   I've used the word 'lost'.  It's the word most of us use.  We use it to describe the loss of the person who was within us for a time, the loss of the hope of that child's future in our arms.  But my four children are not actually lost...I know exactly where they are.  

  Psalm 139:13:  For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb.  
  An unborn baby is not just a piece of tissue or a non-human, she is a child of God, she's beautiful,  He knit her together, she is His. He loves her.  He loves our babies as much as He loves us...and He does love us.  We can't understand all His ways, but we do know that He has prepared a place for us, and the babies we've lost are already found there.  I will meet my beautiful girls and boys there.  

  In the meantime, we can lean on Him because He grieves with us.  We can also lean on one another and share our pain with other women.  If you've been through it, the best thing you can say to a woman who has lost her baby is this:  "I'm sorry. I love you.  God loves you.  I'm here for you."  Then hold on, because the two of you are about to become more beautiful.  Pain and loss define us, just as much as happiness and victory define us.  Devastating loss of something precious can work in us to make us breathtakingly beautiful.  



Monday, January 28, 2013

Can Mean Girls be Beautiful?

  I want to say right off the bat, none of the girls in these pictures are mean girls.  They have their mean moments, but they are mostly very sweet.  We had the girls out on a photo shoot to model those adorable little skirts, handmade by our friend at The Whimsical Peanut.  

    I have heard three different stories about mean girls just this week, and they've made me sad.

  The first story is from a little friend who is in elementary school.  She was invited to a birthday party and then excluded from the group.  

  The second is from a college student, who is frequently experiencing uncaring and dismissive attitudes from her dorm mates.  

  The third is from a grown up woman who feels left out and not good enough to hang out with her husband's coworker's wives, because those wives have not made an effort to get to know her.

  Three age groups, three sets of mean girls.  

  But really, are they mean?  I said above that our little Whimsical Peanut models are not mean girls, but they do have mean moments. We all do.  We all know women who seem like mean girls...we dread being around them, we know they are going to say some rude thing or, maybe worse, ignore us.  

  I am definitely not excusing mean behavior.  When I heard about those little girls ignoring my beautiful young friend I got fired up!  That girl is funny and quirky and charismatic and wonderful, and how any other person could exclude her from anything amazes me!  

  When my college friend told me about the problems she's having with her dorm mates, I could see the hurt in her eyes and hear the disappointment in her voice.  I wanted to go to the dorm with her and wag my finger in their mean faces and threaten to call their mothers.  

  And my friend who is feeling left out in social gatherings?  She IS the life of the party, and if those mean girls would give her a chance she'd wow them.  I want to go with her to the next thing and just tell them all to SHUT UP and let her sparkle!  

  But maybe, when we encounter mean girls, we should take a different approach.

    More likely, those mean girls are actually Beautiful Girls who are having mean moments.  Just like me and you.  

  The best thing I can think to do is to show them grace.  And to worry about ourselves.  How close together are MY mean moments?  Are there women I am excluding?  Do I notice when another woman is hurting, when she's needing something?  

  The best way to combat a mean girl is to not be a mean girl myself.  And if we ALL watch our mean moments, and make sure to keep our mean moments away from others, there won't be any mean girls left!  We'll all be beautiful.  

  How about you?  Have you ever felt excluded, ignored, ridiculed by a mean girl?  How did you handle it?