Twenty-five years ago, my mom sat on the edge of the bed and told me a story about girl who hated her brown eyes. She thought they were ugly next to her blue-eyed friends and her green-eyed sister. So bland. She wished them away. Before long, she upped the ante, begging God to change them, to turn the mud puddles to pools. He’d done that sort of thing before.
The room was mostly dark; quiet save the cicadas and her voice. I was well past the age of being tucked in at night. But there she was, telling me the brown-eyed girl had grown to be a missionary, gaining access into a dark place by wrapping the customary scarves around her head and face, covering every part of her, every part except her eyes.
They kept her secret.
I don’t remember what went down earlier that day at school. It’s safe to say I was feeling my plainness. It happened an awful lot in middle-school, that age of lamenting, that era of heightened awkwardness.
I’d grown eight inches that year, and my hair was still riding out its mullet/perm mash-up. Complicating life, in my family of five, I was the only one with brown eyes.
Blue is used to describe the wild seas, the wide sky, my perky little sister.
Green is reserved for verdant pastures, rare emeralds, and my popular older brother.
Brown. Hmm…there’s dirt. Rocks. Tree bark. Coffee, I guess? Lipton tea? The official eye color of the unluckiest middle child?
My mom must have known I wouldn’t feel the burn of adolescence forever. She knew I’d eventually wiggle my shoulders into a corner all my own, one where I felt my worth and believed I was special.
And I did.
But at any given point, I’d have happily traded in my dusty browns. At any point before August 10, 2005, that is. That was the day my first child was handed to me under the fluorescent lights of an airport terminal. That was the first time I described brown eyes as “chocolate.”
One year later, I had a dark-skinned, brown-eyed girl all my own. Then came another set of almond eyes. Years later, our 19-year-old “surprise kid”, with eyes the color of night.
Navigating motherhood is challenging in hundreds of ways. Weaving the thread of adoption into the fabric of a little life, creating a shared history where once none existed, fielding well-meaning curiosity from friends and occasional skepticism from strangers, all of this adds an unexpected, impossible-to-prepare-for dimension.
“That’s not your mommy! She doesn’t even look like you!”
“Are they related?”
“Are they yours?”
So, we celebrate differences. We notice. We chat. We don’t hold back, we don’t pretend. Often, in the end, I tell them the truth, “We have the same brown eyes. Our eyes look just alike.”
It didn’t have had to end up this way, but I’m not complaining anymore.
Most of us have not adopted. Most mamas share genetics with their children and it shows up in eye color or the ability to roll one’s tongue. But each of us has that thing we wish we could change about ourselves. (Some days it’s hard to narrow it down to just one.)
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.
– Ephesians 2:10 NLT
Isn’t it just like God to use what we see as ordinary or even flawed to cultivate the greatest beauty? He authored and sculpted and planned and knew every little thing. We are His masterpiece, created out of love, to fulfill the plans He made for us before He’d even invented time.
I never want to forget the way He intended for glory that which I despised. Remembering this brings me low, reminds me of all the other ways I need His wisdom. He truly does have it all mapped out.
Though I’m not sure I’ll ever see the redemption of my knobby knees, I can trust the goodness in His design.
And so can you.
How has God used what you see as less than perfect for His glory? Care to share?