Our beautiful Essie turns nine today! She is my clone in looks and much more. This girl is always challenging me to really know my stuff, and she’s an open book if just asked. She loves Jesus something fierce, and her heart is always on him, whether she’s writing a song about him, having deep discussions about him, or drawing beautiful pictures to portray different aspects of his love. Below is the letter I wrote her for her birthday:
My dear Essie,
I’ll never forget your birth. It was the first time I had a baby without taking medicine to dull the excruciating pain. I remember thinking about the Fall and my own sin during the process. To help with the pain, I thought about how much I deserved far more pain than this, that it would never get much worse for me because I was saved by grace. There’s no death for me. It was truly a Spirit-filled moment, and it gave me relief and even joy. I’ve not been able to sustain that hope during a birth since, instead being too consumed with the pain.
Looking back, I see how appropriate those thoughts were for your birth especially. It foreshadowed the way your mind works almost to a tee. You are my deep-thinking girlie, always pondering life and Jesus and how you fit into the whole thing. You’re never one to simply take someone’s word for it. You must really know for yourself, and you’re always on a quest to have the answers. Each time I get one-on-one time with you, I’m amazed how widely you open the door to your heart, letting me see in and allowing me to listen in awe at the maturity that comes out.
I also see the pain in you far more clearly than I’d like. You fear much because your mind is extremely aware of everything around you. The good. And the bad. We tell you there’s nothing to fear, but you know that’s not true. You’ve thought about the Fall to a point most adults never do, and you see the ramifications of it all. You know Satan is at work, and you worry about how he’ll next attack. Seeing or hearing about hard and disturbing things never leaves you.
You also struggle to find your place in this world. Your thoughts make you crave friendship that is beyond your years, and it’s hard to find people who understand. Even though you have four of the best friends ever in your sisters, you’re a middle child, always unsure if you’re a big kid or a little one. Sometimes I’m sure it feels as though you’re simply invisible.
But, my darling, we see you. We see the pain, we see the fear, we see the worry. But so much better than that, Jesus sees you. He is a friend closer than a brother (and you have amazing earthly brothers, so wow!!), and he understands your thoughts. His Spirit is the one who put them there. He designed you to ponder him, to wrestle with him much like Jacob did, and he will bless you fully in the end.
But, if the Lord wills, there’s still much to go before the final blessing comes. And until that day, he wants those thoughts to always be turned to his goodness, his strength, his provision, his power. You recently shared with us that you’re scared you won’t ever become the girl we make you out to be. Oh, my sweet girl, you already are her. You are a beloved daughter of the King. Beautiful and perfect in every way. That is your identity! You don’t have to live up to her because you are her. Just like Mr. Dan talking about Rapunzel—the fact that she was trapped in a tower didn’t change her identity as a princess. She just didn’t believe it was true. But the day she did realize it? Joy!!
You are good because Jesus made you good by taking your sin. You are stronger than you think because Christ is strong for you in your weakness. Your Daddy is creator of the Universe, and if he cares for the ravens, he’s going to care for you, knowing every one of your beautiful hairs. And yes, Satan has been given some powers on earth, but only under God’s authority and only for a short time. Satan has been crushed by your family, not the ones who gave you the name Bell, but by your big brother Jesus. And there is literally nothing to fear with Satan for those of us in Jesus. Our lame enemy is simply throwing a toddler temper tantrum because he’s been defeated.
The moments you relax and simply laugh sincerely are some of my favorite times. They’re the times you’re forgetting to fear and you’re confident in who you are, not trying to be someone you aren’t. That’s what we crave for you this next year. We want you to laugh easily because you know how powerful and good your Daddy is, and we want that knowledge to strip all the fear away. We want you to be comfortable being Esther, because that’s who God created you to be. And if that’s who he designed you to be, any human who thinks you should be something else can honestly just shove it. Their opinion is truly pointless and goes against God, and we’re all hopeless wanderers trying to figure out where we fit.
Your namesake, Queen Esther, was also scared. She hid her identity as a Jew. But the moment of victory came when she performed the bravest act of her life, sealing the deal when she revealed who she really was. It was then that her enemy was defeated.
Continue the deep thoughts, because oh how lovely they are. But think and drink deeply on God for your strength. He’s worth the hard thoughts and the joy.
We love you, Bug,
Mom and Dad