It’s nearly eight o’clock and the pitter patter of little feet treads down the hallway. The door pushes open and a small form climbs into bed huddling beneath the thick bedding snuggling into the warm curve of my body. A tiny hand reaches up pulling one arm down around her waist. Her small frame quaking beneath the touch of my palm. “Mommy I’m scared.” She says.
Awake I sit up wrapping her in both my arms. “Why?”
“Because I’m different.” There is a stone sinking to the bottom of the pit in my stomach.
“Come see, I’ll show you.” Jumping from the bed she leads the way to the bathroom. Arms up stretched I lift her on the counter of the sink where we stare into the large rectangular mirror.
A small angelic face reflects back, long silky brown hair, two large blue eyes, and cute nose. One mouth, just like mine with the bottom one set in a quiver. “See” she points to the swelled hump of deep purple flesh connected between nose and upper lip the size of an adult thumb print. There are no words for me to describe the moment. I draw her close in an embrace removing her from the mirror.
At three in a half years old she has discovered we are all not alike. I believe Bob and Larry of Veggie Tales are best quoted in a time as this. “God made you special and He loves you very much.” Then I add “I love you just the way you are.” Inside, my heart is aching with tears at the soft voice repeating,
“I’m different”. Aren’t we all?
The little lip still quivers. It’s not enough for her to understand. “We are all different”, I go on to explain. She wants to see the mirror again to show me another time, to compare our faces, to convince me she’s unique. I already know. I knew before she was born.
For you formed my inward parts, you covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139 13:14)
When I was six months pregnant I stood in line at the grocery store. In line a little girl popped her head around a jolly round man, her father, who was gripping his stacked cart. The moment my eyes laid up the child’s chubby face I knew. The little girl had large red welts across her forehead crawling into her hair. They looked like large volcanic eruptions of angry red flesh bubbled from the otherwise smooth baby’s skin. I thought for a moment what it would be like to have a child who was different than the rest in such striking physical way.
It struck my heart like lightning splitting a tree. The message was clear. My baby would have a marking on the face. I blinked rubbing my hand over the swell of my growing child. The little girl giggled and danced around her father’s legs. She couldn’t have been any older than four. How could I possible think such a thing? I had stared at the little girl in the grocery store. It wasn’t polite I know. I shook the thought from my mind watching the small child being hefted up into the front of the cart and pushed away.
My husband wanted a boy, insisted he wasn’t capable of a girl. The faltering thought weighed heavily on me the whole way to my parents home – twelve miles away.
I knew of that little girl. Her parents attended the same church my husband and I took our vows. I couldn’t comprehend any of the ideas my brain had formed. I didn’t know. I didn’t want to know. There isn’t an expecting mother in this world that would voluntarily stand up and offer to find out.
Late one evening I sat in our bed reading a book when my labor began. The next morning I held our daughter in my arms. She was perfect to me. The nurses however, had another opinion entirely. The baby was slightly yellow with jaundice. No big deal a lot of baby’s are this way. Then there it was – just a spot on the tip of her lip. It reminded you of a cold sore. The doctor called it a hemangomia.
At a week old it had stretched up her to her nose, just simply a dark mark from birth. Then by three months it had developed a mind of its own protruding outwards like a large strawberry stuck to her face. The doctor’s said to leave it alone it would fade away before she was five. Then she couldn’t breathe from the right side of her nose. The large mark had grown to cover the nostril. She couldn’t nurse, it was uncomfortable; she couldn’t breathe and suck at the same time.
The steroid shots tore at my heart, to hear my frightened baby screaming. Each time I comforted her I hoped for the next time to be the last. At night I sat and rocked her far after she fell asleep just to hold her, love her, and see only the beauty a mother would.
A year later we moved on to laser treatments and after that came nasty steroid by mouth. I drew the line at holding my kicking screaming daughter down and forcing her to swallow the vile liquid. It was just a mark. An unwanted imperfection. A thumb print in God’s design.
I took her out in public often, to play groups, shopping, and to the park. There were always stares – there still are. There are always questions. I’d rather answer them then the stares. There are always assumptions of a bruise, but what they don’t see is the beautiful spirit my little girl has inside her.
At first I thought to protect her, hide her away, and keep her in the house so she would never see or feel the stares or gawking people. But it wasn’t fair. It would only cause her to be ashamed of the image she represented. For God made man in his image. He created my daughter. He designed her for his purpose. He gave her blue eyes and long brown hair. Yet, He gave her that mark. The mark that has now been estimated to not fade away till her teenage years, and even then never truly disappear.
Children are cruel. Will my daughter ever fit in? A night doesn’t pass in my house where I don’t pray for my little girl. Just show them her beauty Lord, I ask. Let them see her from the inside.
I think back to the little girl in the grocery store. My daughter isn’t the only one. Does this make me fee better? NO. Have there been times I have cried and wanted to scream, “Why did you do this?” MANY. Then I creep into my children’s room at night and gaze upon my daughter. I thank the Lord for her everyday.
Then I smile at the world in response to their curious behavior. I know someday the Lord will show us what plans he has for all our children. I think of this:
“He has made everything beautiful in its time” Ecclesiastes 3
There is a special beauty in all of us. We show it in many different ways, but only beauty can be held in the eye of the beholder. What I see is a beautiful little girl and someday others will look past the blemish on my child’s face and see the beauty God created within her. My daughter is named Bella. Those who understand Italian can translate that her name means beautiful. Because she will always be different, because she will always look beyond the stares, and because that is exactly how I love her.
If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW
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