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More times than not, after I finish speaking at an event, people come and tell me their story.  It always amazes me that they feel comfortable sharing painful stories with a stranger who spoke to their school or business for an hour.  But, I am so thankful that they do!  Some of them come to thank me and shake my hand.  Some want to encourage me to keep doing what I am doing.  Some of them, however, come to me in tears.  And, some of them share stories so painful, that I will never forget them.  I shared one such story here in a previous post.

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Today, is Brooke’s story.  Brooke was an eighth grader when I first met her.  She came to talk to me with a good friend beside her.  With tears in her eyes that she fought to hold back, she told me about how she had been bullied daily for the last three years of school.  She said the girls call her chubby, and that she has actually been in counseling for the last year struggling with an eating disorder.  My heart was breaking for her.  I did all I knew to do.  I looked Brooke in the eyes and said, “you know you are beautiful, right?”  Brooke exploded into tears, and told me that she did not believe that at all.  After talking to Brooke for a few more minutes, she thanked me and asked if she could give me a hug.  There was so much pain in this girl, I could feel it when she hugged me.  I gave her an IamSomeone bracelet to remind her that she is Someone of infinite worth, and while words DO hurt, they don’t DEFINE us.

I think about Brooke a lot, because I know there are thousands of little girls that have a similar story.  As I struggle to raise my two daughters, I worry about their body image.  Everywhere they look, they are bombarded with unrealistic expectations on how they are “supposed” to look.  In our siliconized, air-brushed, fake tanned world, how are they supposed to believe that they are beautiful because of who they are not what they look like?  How do we teach them that the mirror is a liar?  Because, the mirror uses OUR eyes to see ourselves.  I wish I could show my daughters, my wife, Brooke, and every girl who is hurting what I see when I look at them.  Because, truly, I see beauty.  And, I refuse to believe that I am the only one who sees it!

I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak at Brooke’s high school the following year.  And, Brooke was brave enough to come talk to me again after I finished speaking.  The first thing that struck me was how much happier Brooke looked than the last time I had met her.  She was a Freshmen this time.  A little older and a little wiser.  But, the best part is she told me that things were getting better.  High school was kinder to Brooke than middle school had been.  The newfound confidence was evident in her stance, and her eyes looked happier than the last time we talked because they were not filled with tears.

You and I see girls like Brooke everyday.  Girls who are being crushed by other people’s cruelty and their own skewed body image.  We MUST tell these girls what we see when we look at them.  Because they don’t see it.  They need a better mirror.  And, we can hold it for them in the words we use when we talk to them.  Choose your words carefully.  Because, you can say what you want about sticks and stones, but we both know…words DO hurt.  But, blessedly, the opposite is also true.  Words can heal as well!  Let’s go out today and be healers.  This world has plenty of hurters!

What does your mirror show you?

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