I’m not good with words. I stumble and trip over my sentences like a 13-year-old in her first high heels. I loathe public speaking with a passion and am awkwardly terrible at small talk with new people.
And I never know what to say to the girl who’s crying.
To the friend who doesn’t think she’s worthy of respect and love. To the college student lost in the sea of papers, homework, growing up, plans for the future. To the girl with a broken heart so fresh she doesn’t think it’ll ever mend. To the beautiful woman who can only see everything that is wrong with her.
I have no words for her.
Every single girl I know has been hurt by words. Beaten down, battered and bruised. Abused by words that hurt, words that cut right into her soul. Words that say that she doesn’t deserve a relationship. Words that say she isn’t beautiful unless she is a size zero, and maybe not even then. Words that teach her to hide herself, to smile when she wants to cry, to be only what other people want from her.
My heart breaks for that girl, for every girl. I want to love her. I want to find every teenager I can, hide her away from this world, and tell her that she is beautiful and cherished and valued and so, so loved.
But I can’t find the words.
I don’t have words for the 11-year-old that makes a joke about being fat. That joke stabs my heart and I ache for her, knowing that behind that joke is an insecurity my words can never erase. But it doesn’t matter, because the words don’t come, because I don’t know how to tell her that she is beautiful. Not beautiful in the way that the word has been cheapened, slapped on everything from dresses to cupcakes to mediocre art projects. No, she is beautiful because she was made by the One who defines beauty. She is beautiful because she is, because she exists. Because she is a living, breathing miracle, full of heart and mind and spirit and excitement.
But the words don’t come. Because how can I tell that 11-year-old not to listen to the lies when I listen to them too?
How can I speak truth into her heart when I’m still trying to believe it in mine?
So I am left speechless, and all I can do is hug her closer to me and whisper a silent prayer that some day she will see her beauty.
I don’t have words for the girl that has been so hurt. The girl with a string of broken relationships, the girl who is overwhelmed by the unknown future, the girl that has let loneliness move into her heart and set up residence.
In that moment, Jeremiah 29:11 seems trite. “Fearfully and wonderfully made” feels like a cliche. We’ll leave a 10-foot berth around the Proverbs 31 woman at times like this. And I don’t have the words to tell you how beautiful you are. To tell you that your future is safe and sound in someone else’s hands and you don’t have to worry about it. To tell you that loneliness will move out eventually and your heart will become home to house-guests that are much more gracious. To tell you that you are loved beyond what you could ever know.
So I’ll respond to the midnight text and let you cry into my shirt. I’ll make you a cup of tea, I’ll bring the ice cream. I’ll sit on the swing set at 1 a.m. and listen. I’ll wrap my arms around you and hold you tight, praying that I’ll find the words to tell you the truth. Maybe if I can find the words for you, I’ll start to believe it, too.