"The beauty she shared, was, quite simply, herself. And in sharing herself, she showed me a glimpse of the glory of God." -Emily Freeman
We have so much to learn from little girls.
I visited my sister recently at the beach day camp she works at. There are plenty of lively little ones bouncing around, dancing to music, eating snacks. I play counselor for a day alongside my sister and it is always a beautiful and freeing day.
On this particular day a little girl bounced up to me and sweetly said, "Hi! I'm Phoebe! Do you want to be my friend?" She looked at me with her wondering blue eyes, freckles dazzled across her cheeks. She did not wait a moment to hear a response, but enthusiastically grabbed my hand and said, "Come with me!"
And just like that, in an instant, I was welcomed. I was greeted in her world with joy and a big smile. In just a few seconds she had shown me an invitation that reflected that she accepted me.
Upon reflecting on this later, I thought...how often do I as a woman express this sentiment to others? How often does a new woman come into a space where I myself belong and I greet her with love and joy and an invitation...rather than a cold shoulder or unwelcoming glance? Phoebe shared a part of herself with me in that brief moment - the part that as a little girl overflows with the desire for friends and the yearning to love others. Perhaps it is not her goal to make people feel accepted, but in her pure innocence, she does. As a 5-year-old, she does not have stacks of memories where her invitation to friendship was rejected or where she was made to feel unwelcome by other girls. Her unscathed heart encourages her to extend her hand. And so often we let our wounded hearts discourage us from reaching out. Can I let my scarred self reach out, the self that has been cast off by other women in different moments of my life?
On another occasion I arrived to camp to see some new campers. A 12-year-old girl ran over to me on this day. "Your sister told us you were coming! Take off your glasses, I want to see your eyes!" she said. I was looking a bit disheveled, without makeup and hair tossed on my head for a day at the beach. As I hesitantly took them off for fear of what honest comment this child would drum up about the way I looked, she immediately exclaimed, "You are so pretty!"
And I breathed in relief and I breathed out gratitude. In that moment again, I felt received and affirmed, even though she was only a small child. It completely lifted my spirit. And I sat and thought again...how often do we treat other women like this? How often do I sincerely compliment or uplift another woman the moment I meet her, rather than have a negative thought or worry that she is so much better, smarter, skinnier, or prettier than I?
There are thousands of women who were sitting under this roof
holding out their hearts like empty cups. -Ann Voskamp
The women of this world, both old and young, are indeed holding out their hearts out to be filled. Women step into situations looking for someone to fill up their glass and the beauty is this...you and I can be the ones who decide to fill up the soul of every woman we meet. We come in contact with these women every day. There are girls who show up to youth group wondering if they will ever be able to make any friends. Other girls may sit at a lunch table in the cafeteria alone, hoping and praying that someone would just come up and speak into their fragile heart..."Do you want to be my friend?" Perhaps a young woman moves to a new city without friends and attends a young adult gathering hoping that some girl who is known there will come up with an invitation - a welcoming hand into a new place.
And it is my job, and your job, to pour into other women with our acceptance, our love, and our kindness. Fill other women with affirmation and with joy. Be the woman who steps out of her own world, out of herself, to make other women feel encouraged, loved, and wanted in this world. It is our great and glorious responsibility to carry one another through this life by our goodness and by our love.
"And sisters have names. And sisters have stories and smiles and art and dreams and hopes and sisters carry each other." - Ann Voskamp