“​You look beautiful!” A single statement changed my daughter’s entire day.

T​eenagers can be tough. My teenager can be tough. Teenagers can also be pretty amazing. Mine included. But let’s be honest — sometimes you don’t know which teenager is going to show up. Some days she smiles and engages with us. Other times she hides away in her room, barely speaking. Some days she values our opinions. Other days she can’t seem to figure out how we survived without her and all her wisdom. She is a great kid and I couldn’t be more proud of her. She is thoughtful and kind, and she genuinely cares about people. But sometimes I know she needs more than we can give. And that’s why Sunday made my heart so happy.

M​y husband, son and I all complimented her as we walked out the door and headed to church. She was wearing her hair down (this is unusual for her), a cute pink dress and wedges that made her appear even taller than she already is. She nodded in the direction of our comments, but made it clear she wasn’t interested in engaging in a conversation about it or drawing more attention to herself. We told her how beautiful she looked and moved on to other topics.

T​hat night as we prepared to say payers with the kids, she plopped on the bed and blurted, “Guess what my friend said when I walked in today?” I responded, “I have no idea. What did she say?” Smiling, Riley repeated her friend’s words. “You look beautiful!” I couldn’t help but smile. This friend is one of the sweetest teenagers I have met. She always wears a smile, and she is always willing to help without being asked. I turned to Riley and replied, “That’s a good friend. A really good friend.” She smiled and nodded, beaming, her self-confidence more noticeable. The compliment from her friend affected her far more than the ones we gave her twelve hours earlier. Friends matter. A lot. What they say matters. A lot.

T​hey are an important part of our lives — friends. I’ve tried to talk to Riley about her friends and the choices she makes about who she chooses to have in her life as a close friend. Sometimes I worry she isn’t listening. I worry she won’t choose friends who choose her. I worry she won’t choose friends who want her to succeed. I worry she won’t choose friends who make her better. Celebrate with her. Mourn with her. I worry she will choose friends because she is alone, not because they are who is best. But Sunday, my Momma heart was full. She is listening, and she is choosing friends who choose her too.

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