Strong. Brave. Witty. Kind. Trustworthy.
My sweet daughter, Emma Grace, exhibits all of these amazing qualities and so much more. Anyone who knows her...who knows our family...knows that we are able to do the things we do largely because of the support she gives to each of us. She loves her sisters (and Jake) and willingly steps in to serve and care for them. She sees a need and, instead of waiting for her parents to do it, she fills in the gap. Carpool. Making dinner. Trips to the park. Extra support for Scottie. Emma Grace has a quick wit and can go toe-to-toe with both her punny dad and her super sarcastic mom. She offers kindness to those who are hurting, who are different, and who are rejected. She is a great friend. She's loyal to those who make their way into her heart. For most of her life, she has been the big sister to a girl who needed someone to be strong. Emma Grace loves her Scottie with a fierceness that you do not want to test. From the youngest of age, I would tell anyone within hearing distance that 1) I could die tomorrow and my household would run perfectly because of Emma Grace and 2) I want to be Emma Grace when I grow up!
Anxious. Fearful. Insecure.
Sometimes we forget that although she is so strong and amazing, Emma Grace is also a young woman searching for her place in the world. A place that isn't just as a big sister. Protector. Daughter. Helper. The funny one. She hurts. She is a classic Enneagram 6 (if you don't know about Enneagram, look it up. It explains a lot.) Full of fear. Fear of rejection from her peers. Fear of not living up to the impossible expectations placed upon her. Fear of the unknown. She suffers from social anxiety. Wanting to be liked. Wanting to fit in. Wanting a life that resembles a classic movie full of friends and experiences. Wanting things she doesn't even fully understand. She has no idea how amazing she is because the lies being told to her by social media, society, and teenagers often shout louder than truth.
Inspiring. Encouraging. Strengthening.
I teach at Emma Grace's school, and we have an hour every school day where we sit together in the lunchroom because neither of us has a class at that time. It has been one of my highlights for this year. I watch her in her element. Laughing with her friends as they walk through the room. Managing her busy schedule. Last week, she shared with me that she was told that someone made a comment about her. Basically, the comment was that Emma (and one of her friends) were so annoying because it was obvious they knew no one liked them and they just don't care. What?!?! Momma bear was ready to fight. My momma radar shot up because I know that she has struggled with belonging. Anxious about being accepted for who she is and fearful of being rejected. Would this cause her to spiral? Would this bring us back to where we were the year before? Would she accept this comment as truth instead of stupid teenager talk? But Emma Grace's response amazed me. She said she would pull this student aside and tell him/her that 1) I have defended you and stuck up for you for years and expect the same 2) You are correct. I do NOT care if you like me or not because I am going to be me. 3) People do like me. You may not. Your friends may not. But I am liked.
Pride mixed with relief flooded my heart. The longer her brave response sits with me; the more inspired, encouraged, and strengthened I become because of her. Like many women, I worry about what people think of me. I struggle with being confident. Speaking my truth. Living my authentic life. Playing roles...wife, mom, friend, teacher, and ... And rejection SUCKS! No one wants to be rejected. Rejection can send a woman into a destructive spiral that prevents her from being a confident, world-changer. When I feel as though I have nothing to give, I will be strengthened by Emma Grace. When I am not sure that I am fully equipped to be who God wants me to be, I will be inspired by my sweet daughter. When I doubt myself as mom, I will pause and be encouraged because my world-changing daughter is figuring it out and she is only 16! If she can do it, I can too! If she can sit comfortably in who she is and who God created her to be, so can I! If she can speak with courage and call out the lies and defend herself, I will speak as well.
Emma Grace - May you continue to laugh easily. May you live life to its fullest. May you know your strengths, but also rely fully on God as you work through your weaknesses. May you continue to extend kindness to those who are rejected and invite them into your life. May you continue to grow and develop into a Godly, truth-speaking, love-acting, and life-changing BOLD woman. I am beyond proud of who you are. I am beyond encouraged, inspired, and strengthened because of all of your qualities...from the wit to the anxiety. I will continue to strive to be more like you and one day when I grow up... ok, we all know I am never growing up... but, I do have a lovely role-model and her name is Emma Grace. Love you forever.