My grandma has lived with my family for nearly as long as I can remember. Before the fire ate a chunk of our house, we all shared a room. My mom shared a room with my dad, my brothers shared a room together, and my grandma and I shared a room. I was so little that we slept in the same bed. A twin-sized bed.
She would complain how I would kick in my sleep.
I was a heavy sleeper.
We always had family dinner. The boys and I would help set the table and my mom would cook. My dad would take his place at the head, my mom on his left, my oldest brother on his right. My place was next to my mother, my other brother across from me, and I can’t quite picture my grandmother at the other end of the table, but I suppose she must have sat there.
The dinner table was “no place for conversation” according to an elderly Chinese woman. But the boys and I would laugh with our mouths full despite her efforts for a silent meal.
And when I was too full or didn’t want to finish my food, she would tell me to finish my rice. I’d look up from my plate, into her thick glasses to find the eyes behind them and wait for my lecture.
For every grain of rice you leave, that’s how many pock marks your husband will have on his face.
Immediately, my mind flashed this terrifying image of my ugly and deformed future husband. To think of all the grains of rice I threw out last night. Last week. The past few months. My poor future husband!
Every night I ate with gusto. I scraped that rice from its hiding corner and stuffed it into my tiny mouth. My husband was going to have the smoothest skin, a flawless face with chiseled features. He was going to be so handsome! All because I was eating my rice.
One dinner it dawned on me, what if my future husband wasn’t kind and didn’t care about me? What if he was self absorbed and only cared about himself? Was he eating all his rice? I definitely did not want MY face all marked with pimples and holes.
I didn’t want a husband who was prettier than me. And I think that might have been the moment when vanity entered my heart.
The image of a handsome husband doesn’t worry me any more. The quality of his character is more of a concern. And whether my face has a youthful glow or an even skin tone isn’t nearly as important as being kind and faithful.
But to my future husband:
I’ve eaten a lot of rice to make you look as good as you do today. And I’ve prayed a lot of prayers that God is shaping you and molding you in just the right way–in His perfect image. (I’ve come to terms that God may not be modeling your body after Joseph Gordon Levitt or Chris Evans–yes, I’m fully aware they have entirely different body types. I’m pretty lenient in terms of physique. Clearly, I’m kind of cool like that.) I have complete faith that your character will enhance your already attractive features.
And while I do hope you’re eating your rice too (please be eating your rice, otherwise you have no right to complain about the face you wake up to every morning), I hope you’re praying for me as well.
And please don’t pray that I’ll have a rockin’ bod or an awesome rack (because I don’t–though that’d be kind of cool to miraculously wake up with flat abs and a tight butt), but pray that He’s whipping me into shape in a different way–that He’s shaping me to be a partner that you need. Pray that I’ll be forgiving. Pray that I’ll be kind. Pray that I’ll be generous with my time and my money. And my love. And my laughter. And my tears. Pray that the mistakes I’ve made teach me wisdom and grace–pray that He’s turning those mistakes into something beautiful. Pray that I am a woman who walks in faith.
Because even though I pray for these things for you and for me, I figure prayer on all fronts couldn’t hurt.
But with all this focus on image and beauty–all that rubbish that I’ve grown up with–I’m praying we don’t forget about all the things that are more important than ourselves.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget.
All my love (and years of clean plates),