Dear Ashley,

You live in the world of those who preen and cluck and coo. Some intimidate with their skill or beautiful feathers. Some startle with their calls. Some flit about quietly doing their work. What you do not know now is that each is searching for a safe place to build a nest.

Very few feel as secure as you think they are or believe they are as lovely as they are. You think most everyone has this figured out, but every bird is trying to find a place to rest.

You have a flock, and you care for each other and are learning a picture of community from these friends, and they will be yours for life. But part of you still believes they love you because of your sameness, and you so much want to be liked by your flock.

By every flock.

You will soon come to accept that you are not going to be everyone’s favorite, and this is as it should be, if you are living honestly.

You still aren’t sure what you is, and that is ok. You see the contradictions in yourself as failings, rather than the unique fabric that makes you. You will learn and keep learning this again in all kinds of ways, and you will begin to more tenderly see yourself as one who is becoming. You today is not you forever, or even you tomorrow. And yet the same you is always there.

Do not fear your weakness, for the very thing you try to lock away, hide and protect will be the key to your healing and a picture of healing for others. You do not yet understand this, trying so hard to do and be right, but your weaknesses in the hand of your Maker and Redeemer become true beauty. It’s almost inconceivable mystery, but I know now it’s true.

You do not see yourself as lovely because your picture of beauty is always her, out there. One day, though, you not only will begin to accept the essence of you, but also your face, curves and lines, and it will be when you’ve seen yourself through unconditional love’s eyes and birthed and held babies, begun to know your body as an always-changing, constant vessel for love.

You will judge lumps, stray hairs and zits less, and you will realize you get to choose what you’re going to tell yourself about yourself. And little girls around you will be paying attention.

Don’t forget this: your external packaging, your accomplishments, your doing good and right will not define you. You are defined by something and Someone much greater, and you already know this. You are much wiser than you realize, after all.

In the years ahead, you will see that gratitude, praise and presence put much into perspective that your emotions cannot. Your intuition and feelings are powerful things, but remember they are not the only things.

You will have shining moments and great days, and you will make desperate messes and live horrible hours, but you will make it.

Cling to hope, always cling to hope. And remember Christ’s grace — it will be your lifeline. Do not over- or under-estimate your own importance. Show kindness. Know that sometimes being small is the path to fullness beyond your imagining. Give what you desire to receive.

Lastly, as you receive shelter, also provide it — under your wing, in your nest, through your coos and calls, with your very own feathers — because those birds out there, they need you.

Keep on keeping on, Sister Me,


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