It seems all little girls grow up being told how pretty they are. And why not? There’s truly nothing more fun that seeing a young Mom at the grocery store with her 3-year-old daughter dressed in a Princess dress and tiara! Who doesn’t love that?
My Mom was loving, inclusive, strong and pretty and she wanted me to be all of those things. The first time I remember her talking to me about the importance of being attractive rather than being pretty was when I was 12 years old. I was in 7th grade at Palo Verde Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona and my first coed dance was coming up. There are no words to describe how excited I was!
Mom and I went to the local JCPenney store to buy a new dress for the dance. I made a beeline for the party dresses, she went straight to the sale rack. This was clearly not going the way I had hoped.
The dress we bought was off the sale rack and lucky for me, it was adorable. It had beautiful California poppies on a white background and a bright pink ribbon for a belt. The night of the dance, Mom curled and styled my hair just the way I wanted it. And the patent leather Mary Jane’s I often wore to church were the perfect complement to my outfit.
Before we left the house, Mom sat me down, held my hands and told me how pretty I looked. Then she said, “There’s one thing you need to do to make sure you have a great time tonight.” “What’s that?” I asked. She replied, “To make sure you have a great time tonight, you need to dance with every boy who asks you to dance.”
“Every boy? Mom, you’ve got to be kidding! Every boy? Even David Richards? Mom, I’m taller than he is! ”
“Yes. Every single boy. I don’t care if he is tall, short, skinny, fat, cute or not. If that nice young man has mustered up the courage to ask you to dance, you owe it to him to say yes. I promise if you’ll do that, you’ll dance all night.”
When we left the house, I still wasn’t convinced her plan was a good one. Her parting comment to me was, “Remember Jean-Ann, you’re going to a dance…not a stand!”
Sure enough, David Richards asked me to dance and I said yes. Mom was right. Once the boys saw that I danced with any boy who invited me to dance, I danced all night long. It was a great night that I will never forget!
But Mom didn’t stop there. All throughout my high school years, she’d often say to me as I was racing out the door to a dance or a party, “Don’t be the prettiest girl!! Don’t even try! Just be the most attractive girl and you’ll come home happy.”
What my wise Mother was teaching me to do was to draw people near by being approachable, inclusive and attractive. Not in a physical sense, but to generously share positive words of encouragement coupled with acts of kindness. She was teaching me to be a magnet, not a model.
“Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” 1 Peter 3:3-4
I not only danced with David Richards that night in 7th grade, we were good friends during our high school years and today, we are friends on Facebook. Dave is now serving as Senior Pastor of Pleasant Heights Baptist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. He may not have been tall in 7th grade, but there is no doubt that today he is an irresistibly attractive man of great standing in God’s eyes!!
Maybe, just maybe God gave me a few extra brownie points the night young David asked me to dance and I said, quite emphatically, “YES!”
Where will your emphasis be today? On your outward appearance or the unfading beauty of your amazing inner spirit?
Just for Grins…. This was the post I wrote as a kick off for this blog. Several of you have mentioned this post lately, maybe because it’s Prom Season. I decided to roll it out again…just for grins. I love you Mom!