A Letter to My Niece

Dear Mackenzie,

I still remember laying my hand on your mom’s belly, praying you would kick for me. And when I felt your foot against my palm, tears filled my eyes and I praised God at the miracle that was you.

When you were first born, the doctor said in surprise, “Oh, she has red hair!”

We laughed with delight, because neither your mom or your dad has red hair. No one was expecting it, and it was such a fun surprise!

Even though your mom was adopted, I’ve always believed that God gave you red hair so that you’d look a little like your Nana, who has red hair, too. What a precious thing you share, and what a bond, even if it isn’t a bond through blood.

IMG_8436-copy--giggles-nose-to-nose-Alicia-&-Kenz copy

Photography courtesy of Polka Dot Portraits

As a baby and a toddler, everyone always complimented you on your beautiful red curls, your dimple-kissed cheeks, and your sparkling blue eyes. You have always been so very beautiful.

But my precious Kenzie, I know one day you’re going to look into the mirror and not like what you see. I know one day you might get made fun of for your pretty red hair and start to feel self-conscious about your smile. The world is going to tell you to straighten those curls out of your hair and find some way to make that porcelain skin tan and freckle-free. They’ll tell you to straighten your teeth and wear the right clothes. You’ll probably go through a stage of feeling tall and awkward and wrong in every way.

In fact, it’s already started. You’re only eight years old and just the other day you looked at me with tears in your eyes and frustration in your voice and said, “You look better than me!”

You almost refused to leave the house because you felt as though you didn’t look good enough.

If only you could have heard my heart break.

Dear Kenzie, my heart does break for you. For you and every little girl or a little girl all grown up who feels she’s not enough. You’re only eight years old, and already you feel inadequate.

I looked you right in the eye and told you the truth: “Mackenzie, you are beautiful just the way you are.” But it’s as if you didn’t hear me.

What changed?

Photography courtesy of Polka Dot Portraits

Nothing, as far as I can see. You are still just as beautiful and just as loved. You have been since the day you were born. But your little heart is more aware. More open and vulnerable to what others may say about you, and I’m sorry to say even the media has targeted you. You look with longing at TV princesses who have perfectly styled hair, makeup applied by animators, and tiny figures trimmed down by pencil. You watch the Disney channel where every actress has a makeup artist to keep her looking ideal. They make you think it’s what you’re supposed to look like. That they are the average, everyday girl.

But sweet Mackenzie, I knew it the day you were born and I know it now: you were never meant to be the average, everyday girl. You were meant to be extraordinary. You were fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14), and no one could ever replace you, no one could be more beautiful, no one could ever be you.

I know the world will try to tell you that beauty will buy love. That without beauty, you’re not worth anyone’s attention. I know, because it’s been that way ever since Eve first bit into that apple, sold on the lie that what she had wasn’t enough.

I know, because I’ve craved the lie too and come away even hungrier than before.

But here’s the truth: love is already yours. 

Jesus hung and bled on a cross out of His crazy love for You, and the Bible says nothing in all the world can separate us from that love. (Romans 8:35.) Not through being blemish-free, but because He is blemish-free.

Don’t ever forget how much you have to offer the world. Your tenacious spirit that refuses to give up, your boldness that will take on any boy who gets in your way, your fearlessness and willingness to try new things. Your intelligence, your heart for the elderly, your love of laughter and fun… so many things God has blessed you with!

But when you do forget, Macaroni, when you go through that stage of  feeling tall and awkward and wrong in every way–when the braces start to hurt and your heart begins to hurt more–I’ll be right here to remind you of the truth:

You are loved. 

You are beautiful. 

And you are an amazing kind of miracle. 

With all my heart,

Auntie Lizzie

Big Grin