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A Poignant Letter From Daddy

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With so much emphasis on the outward i.e. our body, our hair, etc. we were struck by this wonderful letter from Dr. Kelly Flanagan, a clinical psychologist, to his daughter.

It first appeared on Dr. Flanagan’s blog, Untangled.

Dear Little One,

As I write this, I’m sitting in the makeup aisle of our local Target store. A friend recently texted me from a different makeup aisle and told me it felt like one of the most oppressive places in the world. I wanted to find out what he meant. And now that I’m sitting here, I’m beginning to agree with him. Words have power,and the words on display in this aisle have a deep power. Words and phrases like:

Affordably gorgeous,

Infallible,

Flawless finish,

Brilliant strength,

Liquid power,

Go nude,

Age defying,

Instant age rewind,

Choose your dream,

Nearly naked, and

Natural beauty.

When you have a daughter you start to realize she’s just as strong as everyone else in the house—a force to be reckoned with, a soul on fire with the same life and gifts and passions as any man. But sitting in this store aisle, you also begin to realize most people won’t see her that way. They’ll see her as a pretty face and a body to enjoy. And they’ll tell her she has to look a certain way to have any worth or influence.

But words do have power and maybe, just maybe, the words of a father can begin to compete with the words of the world. Maybe a father’s words can deliver his daughter through this gauntlet of institutionalized shame and into a deep, unshakeable sense of her own worthiness and beauty.

A father’s words aren’t different words, but they are words with a radically different meaning:

Brilliant strength. May your strength be not in your fingernails but in your heart. May you discern in your center who you are, and then may you fearfully but tenaciously live it out in the world.

Choose your dream. But not from a department store shelf. Find the still-quiet place within you. A real dream has been planted there. Discover what you want to do in the world. And when you have chosen, may you faithfully pursue it, with integrity and with hope.

Naked. The world wants you to take your clothes off. Please keep them on. But take your gloves off. Pull no punches. Say what is in your heart. Be vulnerable. Embrace risk. Love a world that barely knows what it means to love itself. Do so nakedly. Openly. With abandon.

Infallible. May you be constantly, infallibly aware that infallibility doesn’t exist. It’s an illusion created by people interested in your wallet. If you choose to seek perfection, may it be in an infallible grace—for yourself, and for everyone around you.

Age defying. Your skin will wrinkle and your youth will fade, but your soul is ageless. It will always know how to play and how to enjoy and how to revel in this one-chance life. May you always defiantly resist the aging of your spirit.

Flawless finish. Your finish has nothing to do with how your face looks today and everything to do with how your life looks on your last day. May your years be a preparation for that day. May you be aged by grace, may you grow in wisdom, and may your love become big enough to embrace all people. May your flawless finish be a peaceful embrace of the end and the unknown that follows, and may it thus be a gift to everyone who cherishes you.

Little One, you love everything pink and frilly and I will surely understand if someday makeup is important to you. But I pray three words will remain more important to you—the last three words you say every night, when I ask the question: “Where are you the most beautiful?” Three words so bright no concealer can cover them.

Where are you the most beautiful?

On the inside.

From my heart to yours,

Daddy

We were so struck with this letter that we just had to share it with you, our chums.

Being loving and joyous on the inside makes for abundant lives!

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5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Debbie #

    Now THAT is beautiful! Thank you ladies!

    February 21, 2014
  2. Lara Clardy #

    So wonderful! I am definitely teary. Thank you.

    February 21, 2014
  3. Richard Horner #

    My dear ladies:

    What a lovely and moving letter which characterizes the inner beauty and the glory of each of us. These are the ideas that my own dear parents instilled in their children, to see the QUALITIES that we each possess and make up our true character and identity. It all comes down to how to view things, how we think and how we respond to the garbage in the world that is thrown at us. A dear friend once told me that “Life is 10% what you make it and 90% how you take it.” I try to remember that in how I live my life.

    How wonderful that this man is putting the cloak of armor on his dear daughter to protect her and shape her thinking for life ahead. It’s like the little girl in the well known movie “CRASH” who covers his little daughter with a protective cape around her. When she is shot with blanks at the end of the movie, she is unharmed because she is wearing that cape of protection. This father has put the cloak of protective armor around his precious daughter. God bless this dear daddy!

    February 21, 2014
    • Two Chums #

      Yes, beautifully put, dear Richard!

      February 21, 2014
  4. Janna #

    Beautiful Richard, I so agree! Thanks for posting dear Chums.

    February 21, 2014

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