Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Awkward Years

Amanda is 7. Well, 7 and a half, as half-years are very important as you probably know. In the last couple of posed pictures that were taken of her, she is smiling with her lips closed. She lost both front teeth this summer, so she has the "big teeth" in front now. When we got a picture that had been taken at church and put into a frame that they made, I told her that it was a very pretty picture. I also asked her why she was smiling that way. "I don't know," she replied. "Are you embarassed or self-conscious about something?" I prompted her. "Kind of, I guess," she admitted. Another thing that helped me put all this together was when we had a portrait made in March with her brother and her baby cousin. They were all wearing jeans and white shirts. Baby Paige was barefoot, so we could see those adorable baby toes. I suggested that Amanda and Kyle take off their shoes. Amanda refused (politely and respectfully, of course), because "I don't like the way my feet look with no shoes."

I have noticed on TV how very many commercials there are for losing weight--Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, Curves, other gyms. The list goes on. One time when the Nutrisystem commercial was on, she said, "When I go on a diet, I'm going to go on that one, because you can eat chocolate." When she goes on a diet?? It's a hard time to grow up now. I pray for her self-image. I pray specifically that she will learn to eat healthily, neither to excess nor starvation. I pray that she will see herself as loved and created by God, who doesn't make mistakes.

Only seven, and already self conscious? And this from an otherwise confident, head-strong leader. I was reflecting on the term: self-conscious. Conscious of self. It has a negative connotation, but there's nothing inherantly wrong with feeling yourself. So I thought why when we feel "self-conscious" we feel insecure, doubtful, like we are awkward inside our own skin. I think it's because we really are created to seek out and rely on Him who created us, not ourselves. If we remember that God has a plan for us, and if we follow Him, He'll help us get there (in spite of ourselves). I also don't tend to feel self-conscious if I'm thinking of others. It might be awkward to go take a plate of cookies to a new neighbor, but if I think of them and their need to be welcomed and feel accepted, instead of my awkwardness and what they will think of me, then it becomes (slightly) easier.

Already 35 (and a half), and still self-conscious? Unfortunately, yes. I also pray for myself, to move from this self-centered and self-conscious frame of mind, into a place of genunine peace with who I am, not who I'm becoming, not who I was, but who and where I am right now. A place where doing laundry, picking up toys, wiping noses, fixing lunches, and then doing it all again the next day doesn't feel awkward. A place where I'm happy with myself and the plan that God has for me. Right now.


Katrina said...

Good stuff, Jennifer. You've given me a lot to think over.

Dianne said...

I think you're right on here, Jennifer. Good post.

Aidan Soder said...

This is a really good one, Jennifer. :) Keep it up.