By Carolyn Greene
The little girl in the photo smiled back at me, her face familiar but very different than the way I remembered her from my childhood.
I was hard on her back then. Told her she was skinny and ugly and blind as a bat. Criticized her for daydreaming when she should have been paying attention. And curled a lip at the ever-present patches of excema between her fingers and behind her ears. “That’s disgusting,” I said. She quietly agreed and hid her hands behind her back. Sometimes I caught her praying to God to fix her. Make her better than the horribly flawed person I told her she was.
She should have been more like her older brother, I decided. Confident, funny, and always ready with a quick reply. Sure, she had a sense of humor, but her one-liners always came long after the window of comic opportunity had closed. As for confidence, the only thing she was sure about was which book she wanted to read next. She would lose herself in stories for hours at a time, imagining herself to be as clever, attractive, and brave as the characters she read about. I rolled my eyes at her fantasies of taming wild stallions, solving mysteries, and attracting the attention of the cutest guy in class.
I don’t know why I was so mean to her. If my mother had heard the terrible things I said to her, she most certainly would have set me straight. “God doesn’t make junk,” Mom would have insisted. But I was careful not to let anyone hear, so I never got the correction I needed.
Now, several decades later, I stared at the photo and saw for the first time what a cute, sweet kid she was. And I felt horrible for leading her to believe otherwise. She’s not as skinny as she once was, her skin has finally cleared up, and glasses have given her sharper focus. She still daydreams and is sometimes slow to think of clever comebacks, but she’s finally turned those former handicaps to her advantage: Her daydreams now produce plenty of fodder for the stories she writes, and the second draft is when she adds those late-but-clever comebacks.
She and I get along quite well these days. That young girl – my former self – shaped who I am today, for which I am grateful. And I’ve learned to be kinder to myself, which is a good thing, because God doesn’t make junk.
Carolyn Greene is the mother of two and grandmother of one. She lives in Virginia with her husband and two miniature pinschers. Carolyn writes romances for Harlequin Love Inspired and inspirational mysteries for Guideposts Books. Her next Love Inspired novel, UNEXPECTED REUNION, is the first in the Southern Blessings series and is set for release in June 2014.