When the time came that we were able to find out the sex of our first child, I had such strong hopes for the outcome. The moment the ultrasound technician declared our baby's sex, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Over in the corner of the room, my husband began dancing some sort of jig as he hooted and hollered in excitement. We both had set our desires on having a boy and celebrated the gift of receiving one.

For him, it had been about camaraderie.

For me, it had derived from a place of fear.

Fast forward fifteen months later, and there were were again in that same room, with our ultrasound technician. This time, I knew in my heart that we were having a girl.

This time, I felt prepared.

And there she was - ready to be seen, to be known, and to be loved.

Those desires have always embodied my own story. But has taken all twenty-eight years of my life to finally be at peace in being a girl and all that goes with it. Now, here I am a mother - to a girl. And all the fear comes rushing back.

Growing up, I was a 'social butterfly'. I flitted from group to group knowing everyone and not bonding with anyone. I had temporary best friends. But they came and went because of military moves, shallow conflict, and new seasons of life. I had a hard time relating to myself, let alone other girls. From the beginning, I think I was hyper-aware of the mind games being played and the constant expectations being set. I needed nothing do with it and yet, wanted to be a part of every bit of it. I was defiant in the face of slumber parties, dances, and even powderpuff football. And yet, I taught myself how to wear make-up, pressed myself to join group and clubs, and passed hundreds of paper notes to potential friends. Even in my pushing back, I so desperately wanted someone to pull me forward. I wanted to be a part of something.

Although I'm now more comfortable in my own skin, bouts of insecurity and dread still rise up in me whenever I enter a room full of women. The insecurity had less to do with me, and more rooted in wanting to belong and the friendships I so strongly desired. I desired connections that conflict could only make stronger, not break. Nights of laughter, secrets, and tears. Memories and inside jokes and nicknames. Loyalty and fierce love. All these things I neglected to really experience, but still found more valuable to gold.

And so I have these fears for my daughter. Fear that she won't connect, that she won't relate, that she would have as hard a time being a part of community as I did. Fear that she would struggle becoming herself on her own instead of while surrounded by compassionate others. Fear that her perspective of herself would be reflected in the amount of friends she had or party invites that she obtained. Fear that she would hide herself in response to the overwhelming urge to be seen. Fear that because of community is uncomfortable, she would miss its worth.

I don't want my daughter to know my fears.

Instead, I want my daughter to know that it is difficult to experience belonging in a world that would rather accept fraud over authenticity. But that the level of difficulty does not determine a lack of morality.

I want her to know that timidity in friendship is often the easiest response, but never the right one. And that boldness can deepen the course of a relationship. That being genuine, although never said, is far more sought out than looking just like every other girl. That finding and accepting herself allows her to find and accept others. I want her to know that were were made to do life with others. That this is how God created us and how he works through us and how transforms us. I want her to know that what helps us manage through the most difficult of times are our friends. That it's far sweeter to celebrate our triumphs with someone who has walked with us every bit of the way. Yes, There will be challenges, tears, and cries of frustration. However, the process will beautify her soul and her story. Mostly, I want her to know that her story is hers, and hers alone - but that it isn't a story until shared with another.

Daughter of mine. I see you. I love you. And I look forward to knowing you.

And with Jesus, may you have no fear in the face of others - but only the desire to share your story, yourself, and to always glorify Him.