A Letter to my 5-year Old Daughter

Dear Selah,

Your life has been a short, carefree one so far. I wish I could capture this time and wrap it around you forever, so it surrounds you like a warm blanket and keeps you away from life’s coldest realities. As you grow up, you’ll begin to face these realities. I can’t keep that from happening and I don’t necessarily want to, but man…why do they have to sometimes hit you so young? I can already see the confusion in your eyes when you sense cruelty or you see that not everyone wants to be your friend, even though you’re so eager to find your next BFF, like the little social butterfly you are.

Your name means “to pause and reflect” in Hebrew. So, with that note, there are some specific things I want you to pause and keep with you. I want you to wear these words in your soul until they become a part of you.

1) You are beautiful, but remember that true beauty comes from within. (1 Sam. 16:7) I was reminded tonight of the absolute blitzkrieg of images that bombard you everyday, reminding you that you need to look a certain body type, have a certain bone structure or reach a certain status (no less than a Princess, of course) to be loved by the world. You told me that you were “afraid of becoming fat”. I told you that I only want you to be healthy and your 5 year old mind shouldn’t be partaking in such concerns. This world is at war for your soul. It’s a battle I’m ready to fight for you. I will continue to reaffirm that you are beautiful, no matter what and that your soul is beautiful to both me and God. This is what matters amidst the billboards, TV ads and endless array of perfect plastic dolls.

2) True beauty comes from pursuing virtue and goodness. Don’t be the “mean girl”. (Psalm 17:15, Psalm 45:7, Is. 51:7, Matt. 6:33) I am aware that you are a girl with beautiful eyes and a beautiful smile. I’ve seen many people tell you that. I just want you to remember that your form is a small part of who you are. When you decide to stand for the oppressed, the isolated, the forgotten and befriend them (as I know you are already keen to do) you elevate your beauty as well as theirs. That’s when the most beautiful object created shines through you – Christ. He is the source of true beauty. If you can remember that, even if your outward beauty were to be taken from you (which is mostly assured when you get as old as mommy and daddy), you will radiate a deeper beauty than any runway model or Barbie doll.

3) Pain and suffering are gifts that refine us into icons of God. (Luke 9:23) Someone will break your heart. Someone will break a promise. Someone will let you down. Someone will hurt you in some way. The world will constantly do it’s best to make you run hard and fast from pain. It will tell you that the ultimate good is to rid yourself of all suffering and pain and to just try to make yourself as happy as possible.

This is a lie.

You can’t escape pain and suffering, but you can be truly happy. Here’s how: first, recognize that loving others and not constantly looking out for yourself is one part of it. The second and most important part is that true joy comes from the Lord. He is your comforter. It’s OK to cry and to grieve. It’s OK to embrace sorrow and soak in it. Just remember that Jesus Christ is there with you, wiping your tears and mending your wounds. He experienced it himself. He took it upon himself and now pain and suffering have a redemptive power that can only be found within him.

I wish none of it was true. That you would never experience pain ever. But I know that’s impossible.

Instead, I leave you with the greatest gift I know how to give. The love of our Savior. You may look back on the prayers we said at your bedside and roll your eyes. You may one day think about the cheesy Bible songs we sung together and scoff. You may even wonder how I could even be so ignorant to believe in an invisible being.

But I hope you never, ever forget the love I gave you. I could only love like that because of Jesus. And I know his love is greater than any worldly lies.

Love,

Dad

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