A girl and her birthmark

Posted on January 7, 2014 · Posted in Parenting, Shaping Influences, Worldview

Several years ago I had the privilege to respond to a mom whose daughter was mocked by another child on a school bus. Here is the comment the little girl’s mom wrote in her blog:

The girl on the bus pointed at her birthmark–the one just below her left eye–and told her she looked stupid.

The soft confession came from my little girl, who was staring at the floor. A groan escaped me and I grabbed my daughter close. And I did exactly what I shouldn’t have: I cried. Will it get easier to be strong? Will it get easier to say the right thing in response to pain?

Below is what I wrote to encourage this mom.

A birthmark, curly hair, freckles, gangly arms, large feet—these are all things that may seem different, less than perfect. In a culture that features Barbie dolls and makeovers of all kinds, “different” is often equated with weird. Children are particularly adept in pointing out things that are different. Children are also born with the capacity and even the desire to hurt others.

Cruelty is hard to experience, especially when you see it directed toward your child. However, there are several important truths to consider that will help mother and child respond well to such hurtful comments.

The first matter to address is cause of the cruelty. This cruel response was not caused by the birthmark, but by the sinfulness of the girl on the bus.

In Psalm 139 the psalmist says God knit him together in his mother’s womb according to God’s own thoughts—so he rejoices because he is fearfully and wonderfully made. This became a source of wonder and awe. This psalm was written for a choir, to be sung as an encouragement to all of God’s people—of various shapes, differing physical features and, yes, birthmarks.

We are not the product of random chance, and that includes the way we look. This birthmark was God’s particular choice for this girl. It may be different than most, but it is God’s choice.

Why did he give this beautiful little girl a birthmark? We don’t know the details, of course, but we do know that this birthmark is not a random event. It is part God’s awesome and wonderful plan for this little girl.

Finally, remember that “for those who love God all things work together for good.” What a blessing it would be for a child to learn at an early age to trust and love the God who made her, and her birthmark, and then to overcome evil with good?

God gave this girl a distinctive birthmark. He did it on purpose, and it is cause for awe and wonder. The birthmark is a gift of God to this girl. She has not been cursed, but blessed. If a child asks her about the birthmark she can say,

“I don’t know why I have this mark. But I do know that God wanted me to have it. It is special to me.“ 

For the daughter to embrace this powerful expression of God’s purpose in her life, this little girl’s mother must also believe it. Over time, as both mother and daughter look at reality from the perspective of Psalm 139, doubt will turn to joy. This little girl is indeed fearfully and wonderfully made!

Jay Younts
Jay Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is the author of Everyday Talk and other materials on parenting. He has been teaching and speaking on parenting issues for 30 years. Jay and his wife, Ruth, live in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He serves as a ruling elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and Ruth have five adult children.