Jessie carefully pulled back the lace curtain and peeked out of the living room window. "Aunt Jo and Uncle Pete just drove up, Mother," she called. Jessie was delighted whenever her favorite aunt and uncle came for a visit--especially today, her thirteenth birthday.
Jessie smiled when she heard the sound of laughter as her relatives came up the walkway. Even though her mother and father never seemed happy, Jessie knew that her aunt and uncle had a magical way of making her family laugh and enjoy themselves. Yes, this was going to be a fun day.
"Hello, everyone," greeted Aunt Jo in her usual bubbly way. Aunt Jo and Uncle Pete always looked like they had stepped out of a fashion magazine. Jessie longed to be old enough to wear pretty dresses and high-heeled shoes like her aunt's. Her uncle, a good-looking man, was a perfect gentleman. Suffering from asthma since childhood, he spoke with a slight wheeze, but he loved to interact with everyone, including Jessie.
After everyone greeted each other, Aunt Jo took a box that Uncle Pete had brought in. She went over to where Jessie was sitting and opened it. "Jessie, when we saw this beautiful long-stemmed rose, it reminded us of you. Happy birthday, honey."
Jessie could not believe her eyes. No one had ever given her flowers. She took the rose and sniffed it. Her aunt smiled and said, "It's velveteen, Jessie. This is a rose that will never wilt, and you can keep it forever to remind yourself how pretty you are."
Jessie lost track of the conversation of those around her. How can Aunt Jo and Uncle Pete really think I'm as pretty as this beautiful red rose? I don't understand it. I'm too tall for my age, fat, and clumsy, Jessie thought. Regardless, she felt special because her aunt and uncle had given her a rose; it made her feel grown-up.
Over the next few days, Jessie thought about Aunt Jo's remark, and she began to understand that her aunt and uncle must have seen something about her that she had not recognized as special. Maybe it's my hazel eyes, my long dark hair, or possibly my smile. If they can see something about me that's pretty, then maybe I'm not so ugly after all, she thought.
The loving remark and gift for Jessie began the process of viewing herself as an attractive person, rather than an oversized, homely teenager. She began to emphasize her good points and work on the areas that she knew could improve. With each success, Jessie became more determined to be the best she could be.
We have opportunities to be a powerful influence on our children and those around us.
As youngsters reach their teenage years, they usually have a negative view of themselves. A compliment, with an appropriate gift that will continue to remind them of their value and your thoughtfulness, can make an enormous impact on a young person's self-esteem.
The power of God's love can change a life. He can use us to help bring about those changes. Jessie began to see herself in a positive way through the gift of a velveteen rose.