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Full Circle

She glances down at them and knows she can’t use them for the yearbook. They’re horrible, hideous even. How can she possibly be so ugly?

Irealized something the other day. My kids are popular and well-liked. They’re not the nasty kind of popular kids who exclude others or put them down. They’re the magnificent type, the type who approaches a peer too afraid to join the game and asks them to be their partner. Friends call and come over and want to be around them.

I’m sure you’re thinking about how superficial I must be to be bragging about my kids’ popularity. I mean, what kind of mother takes pen to paper to let the world know everyone loves her offspring?

Let me take you back to a time about 20 years ago, when I was a little girl of about 12 years old, and maybe then you’ll understand.

It’s picture day in eighth grade. A girl walks into her classroom and tries to smile. All her classmates look beautiful. Their hair is done and their uniforms crisp. Some are wearing a little lip gloss, some are sporting a new hair accessory.

The moment she steps into the room, she feels discomfited. Her hair is frizzy, even though she showered right before school, and put in just about a whole bottle of gel. Her face is red and puffy from acne. She’s chubby and her clothes aren’t cool. She has two friends in the entire grade. They both come from strange families and are interesting characters, but they’re all she’s got, and beggars certainly can’t be choosers.

This girl waits on line for her picture to be taken, watching each of her classmates. The photographer’s flash lights up their faces. Their smiles look real, genuine smiles that reflect their excitement for what the future will bring.

Now, it’s this girl’s turn. She forces her lips to turn upward for the camera. Inside, she wishes she could hide.

Weeks later, the pictures are ready. The teacher stands in front of the classroom and calls out the names of the students. One by one, the girls walk up to her desk and take their school portraits. This girl’s name is called. Even before she sees the pictures, her face burns with shame. She glances down at them and knows she can’t use them for the yearbook. They’re horrible, hideous even. How can she possibly be so ugly?

When the bell rings, she gathers her things and throws her knapsack over her shoulder. She walks toward the door, and when no one is looking, throws the pictures into the trash.

Time passes and the girl goes on to high school. She loses weight, her acne fades. She starts anew and makes new friends, real friends. She laughs and sings and grows wings to fly. Life moves at a startling pace. Six months after she comes home from seminary, she’s engaged. She gets married and continues along on this journey called life. She buys a house and has kids. She has friends. Life isn’t perfect. Her husband is in chinuch and money is tight. Life is hard and hectic, and she’s tired. But it’s happy tired, a content tired.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 668)

 

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