As I stood with my wife in a stranger’s backyard last Friday, I was gripped with a troubling question: when did my little girl grow up? There she was, beautifully adorned in her formal dress with a group of ever-so-slightly less beautifully adorned classmates, taking pictures and getting ready to head off for their Junior Prom. How did we get here? A few days ago, she was born. It seems like it was only yesterday that she learned to walk and then to run. It couldn’t have been all that long ago that she started school, but now, as I stand watching her laugh and pose with her friends, I realize that this is but the first in a list of events that will take place over the next year. Then she’ll be gone.
Unfortunately, I’m not ready for this. Maybe it is because she is our only girl or maybe it is because she is so fiercely independent; all I know is that many tears (some of joy and some of sadness) will roll down her mother’s and my cheeks throughout the intervening months. Despite the fact that Rebekah is 17 years old and 64 inches tall, I still see her as a two foot tall ray of sunshine with a missing front tooth, a fashionable purse and crooked bangs.
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:3–4 (NIV)
No matter what happens to her mother and me, Rebekah will be fine. As her aunt commented on Facebook© when she saw the pictures of Beck in her prom dress, she is a ‘beautiful girl…inside and out!’ We must have done something right, or more precisely God must have enabled us to do something right, for she has a beautiful soul. In the days that led up to the dance, Bekah’s ‘invisible” qualities radiated – from her willingness to alter a hand-me-down dress to her joy in doing her own hair and makeup. She invested her resources in the treasures that last long after the memories of a night at the Copley fade.
In a world where hemlines are creeping higher and necklines are plunging ever deeper, I am proud of many of the fashion decisions my teenage daughter has made (don’t take this to mean that I agree with all her choices – I don’t). I appreciate that she tries to maintain a balance in modesty and modern fashion. I am even prouder of the choices she has made deepening her inner beauty. She invests some of her energies on looking good and some of her energies on being good. I am glad I have had a chance to witness all of that.
I am glad that she has taught me a thing or two, too, along the way. Teenagers are not the only ones who are tempted to value outward appearances over inner beauty. Sometimes I am guilty of judging a book by its cover and missing the depth of character within.