I knew it had been quiet too long. I walked into the bathroom and found my two-year-old daughter standing on her stepstool, gripping my eyeliner pencil like a magic marker. She looked up at me with accusing blue eyes, as if I had interrupted her on a very important phone call. She had scribbled a thick black line from the corner of her mouth to her right temple.
“Beautiful,” she said.
A few days later, we were running late getting out the door. Despite my asking her a handful of times to go get her shoes, she had not budged. Instead, she stood in front of the hallway mirror, glued to her own reflection. She was wearing her favorite dress—the puffy one from Nanny Betty, the color of Pepto Bismol. Tule exploded from every angle as she turned her little hips from side to side.
“Princess,” she said.
This week she sauntered into daycare with all the self-assuredness of Miss America. She was wearing fuchsia shorts, a purple t-shirt, and her brand new pink cowboy boots. When her two best friends (Leo and Lance, both 2 years old) spotted her, they actually fell at her feet. “Woooooow,” they murmured, “Pretty shoooooes.” She stood there with her hands on her hips, beaming–soaking in their worship.
“Yes,” she said, “Pretty.”
Needless to say, I need prayer.
I’ve got to say, though, parenting a two-year-old girl makes me believe in Jesus more. When I see her wrestle with this unquenchable desire for beauty, I know God has put eternity into her heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Since she is an image-bearer of God, her inclination towards splendor speaks volumes about the character of our Creator.
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. Romans 1:20
Indeed, long before she has an interest in captivating a member of the opposite sex, she wants to be regarded as precious. It is evident she wants to exude loveliness. As I watch her tiny hands reach for princess dresses and necklaces and plastic tiaras, the words of C.S. Lewis ring true: “What does not satisfy when we find it, was not the thing we were desiring.”
Her thirst for beauty points to an ageless longing present in every human heart, and it can only be satisfied one way.
In the coming years, she and I will have conversations about True Beauty. We will talk about how God has had His eye on her from the very start—how He knit her together in my womb and kept her safe despite my recklessness and sin. We will talk about how as she grew inside me, God lifted me from the sliminess of drug addiction and atheism. How before I even found out she was a girl, God was at work setting up her life. He placed my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand (Psalm 40:2). We will talk about how He reached into my chest and took out my heart of stone and replaced it with one that was soft and teachable and in love with Him. How He called my name and I came forth, like Lazarus from the grave. How she needs Him to call her name, too. How she needs Him to give her a new heart.
I will talk to my daughter about how True Beauty wooed me into gospel-centered community, so she would grow up surrounded by His people and His Word. We will talk about how my love for her is just a shadow of the love the Father has for us.
Because He did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us.
I’m preaching this to myself as I write it. God, help my unbelief. Help me teach her that beauty does not come from eyeliner, but from a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:4). Help me show her that a love for fancy dresses points to her craving to be viewed as a treasured possession (Deuteronomy 26:18). The self-assurance she has in those pink boots is nothing compared to the confidence Christ gives us to approach your presence (Ephesians 3:12).
God, open her eyes– and mine– to Beauty as a battered and bloodied Savior, coming to save sinners at just the right time so we can live in eternal communion with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
“There is the deepest and most alluring beauty to be found in the heavenly harmony of the Trinity.” – Michael Reeves