In honor of International Women’s Day, this is for all of my sisters out there.

danielle-international-womens-day-go-girl-mugMy daughter danced into my room as a way to say “good morning.” I looked over expecting to see the same sight I do most days, an 8-year-old with disheveled pajamas and crazy hair.

But that’s not what I saw – instead she was prancing around wearing nothing but her birthday suit and a wide smile.

With zero clothes on, she gave me a hug and acted as though the change of routine wasn’t anything abnormal. I could tell she waited in the balance of fully enjoying herself yet anticipating my response.

It completely caught me off guard.

If I’m being honest, I felt immediately uncomfortable. Not because I’d never seen her naked, but because I didn’t expect it.  Plus, seeing your kiddo naked at age eight is different than when they’re babies and toddlers.

My mind wanted to creep into bad, worried places where I doubted the virtues I’ve taught her on beauty, modesty, and purity sunk in. I wanted to rush and cover her, a way to keep her safe.

But then an overriding thought prevailed, “She feels safe and free here. Let her dance.”

Mourning the innocence

As I watched her prance around my room in a full-on birthday suit, I struggled to relate with her. And mourning set in.

I cannot remember a time I felt so free to not wear any clothes.

For me, this pain and shame is tied to surviving colon cancer as a woman (especially a teenager). I was led into exam rooms and asked to remove my clothes, most often my pants. Although the requests to unclothe were life-saving, medical measures, the traumatic emotions springing from the memories don’t care about that.

I lost more than my colon through my cancer experience, and it’s taken me a long time to even recognize and put words to that.

I know many friends and fellow women who can relate to these feelings, whether their request to unclothe was gentle or harsh, or it happened in a hospital or a dark hallway. Unfortunately, there’s too many stories where a woman’s child-like innocence was taken away.

I was reminded of my story, and the stories of women filling up “#metoo” feeds, as I watched my joyful daughter dance.

In the beauty of her pure innocence, I was reminded of this:

Freedom comes from simply being ourselves – comfortable in the skin and bones that holds our souls and spirits together. It’s these things – our bodies – God calls a “masterpiece.” In Christ, everything gets to be called “good” again.

How God Sees Us

Not only did my daughter’s freedom reveal places in my own heart that needed encouragement, it showed me God’s heart as a parent.

She reminded me of the story of King David feeling so excited, he also danced before the Lord. His total trust in God allowed him to worship with both his body and heart.

I have no doubt God loved it; as a parent, it made my heart happy to see my kid rejoice.

This is how God intended the world to work. His original design for mankind was for us to feel unashamed of our bodies, aware of our beauty and safe in the hands of those who lead us.

Despite the headlines of today, the traumatic stories told by women all around the globe, and the perversion, corruption and brokenness that persists – there is hope.

God’s a father. He is the original, ultimate safe place. When we get alone with Him, we don’t only rediscover that God sees us as a masterpiece – but the hurting parts of us heal.

Although walking with the Lord uncovered isn’t literal anymore, it is possible to do this when applied to our hearts.

It happens when we choose as women – as God’s daughters – to believe He’s a heavenly parent watching over us with delight. We say YES God, be our safe place.

Restore our broken hearts and bring justice into our world.

Help us trust you, step out in vulnerability and dance.

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