If I’ve struggled with anything in my life, I’ve struggled to believe these two things: I am smart and I am beautiful.

And even greater is the struggle to resist measuring my smartness and beautifulness against her smartness and beautifulness, which is so destructive because we all are, you know. In different ways and at different stages, but we all are so smart and so beautiful. Not one or the other, not not enough of either.

I wish I’d learned this earlier. I wish I’d spent less time worrying about tummy rolls and hairstyles and grade point averages, and more time laughing and living and having fun. I wish I’d grown up learning how to affirm instead of compare. I wish I’d been better at complimenting others and myself. I wish I’d loved better the other girls, instead of harbouring secret jealousies and fighting the demons of self-perceived inadequacies.

I wish we could all accept that we are both smart and beautiful, all the time. We are smart, you guys. We do remarkable things that take brains. We learn stuff and we apply these learned things in creative ways and we adapt to the changes that come with environment and years and we make important decisions and we do clever, important things every single day.

And we are beautiful. We really, really are. We should take such great pleasure in our loveliness. We were gorgeously made and adorned and yes it’s true, beauty comes from inside. It shines right out through our eyes and it’s in our giggles and we don’t even understand, usually, how adorable we are when we smile or when we stroke the dog or when we beat eggs into frothy glory in the chipped blue bowl that was a wedding gift all those years ago.

I look at women differently than I used to. I used to evaluate you, my friend. Isn’t that sad? I used to try to determine whether you were prettier than I or better educated or more happily married or thinner, and I’d feel better or worse about myself based on how I imagined we stacked up against each other.

I don’t do that anymore. I mean, there are lingering wisps of silliness because of how ingrained these measuring-up thoughts and behaviours have been, but I fight them. I try very hard now to use my Jesus eyes and to see you in all your gracefulness and loveliness and brainy-ness.

And guess what? The world has become a friendlier place.

If you walk through my back yard, swinging a pail, this is the greeting you will receive.

Yesterday, my husband and I made a quick trip to the city to run some errands for a friend. We found her at the hospital with her husband, who is ill. Her relieved hug and her God bless you were precious.

Yesterday, when my husband and I returned from the city, the boys greeted us with hugs and stories of the day. Gifts.

I am blessed daily with greetings that count. With a dog who wriggles out of his skin when he sees me. With goats who nuzzle my face when I milk them. With friends who care and say so.

Greetings are important, I think. Maybe more important than we realize.

I love the biblical greetings, the grace and peace be with you greetings. I love the sense of belonging and community that happens when I walk into a local store or coffee shop and I’m greeted by name. I love meeting a friend for a visit and sharing those initial renewing-aquaintace minutes that include a hug and those breathless how are you and what have you been up to questions.

My prayer, friends, is that today you will share greetings that are meaningful. That you will know the care and concern of a hello that is more than a rote Hey or How’s it going? That you will brighten someone’s day by greeting her in a way that let’s her know she has been seen.

It’s a little thing. But it’s a big thing. You know?