It’s hard to grow up in the world we live in, especially for children immersed in the American culture. While we have more wealth and access to information than ever before, our children are also exposed to a clashing menagerie of values (and non-values) that can leave them confused, frustrated and often lost if they don’t have someone to guide them through it all.
I think this is especially hard on little girls. Our daughters are growing up in a time of incredible opportunity where the bell of equality rings louder than ever before. But there is still much ground to be gained, and in the midst of the struggle there is a culture of ugliness that will shatter a little girl’s heart and leave her uncertain about her worth and her place in this world.
Feminism has gone from honorable protesting to a display of disgusting animosity. Through it all, women are still objectified as trophies to be owned or things to chase to gratify selfish sexual desires and ego. Mothers are shamed for wanting to stay at home with their children, especially if they choose to raise their family in a faith-based environment. Gender has become ambiguous and choices relative in this anything-goes society.
Children, most often young girls but boys too, are victimized in the home, the church and schools. Sexual and physical abuse are at an all-time high. The sex slave industry thrives in the dark corners of society, where children are kidnapped or coerced into prostitution, and not always at the hands of strangers.
Where are the role models? Where are the heroes?
It’s a dangerous world to raise our children, and I think it’s an even more dangerous world for our little girls. This is why every day I pray for my daughter’s safety. I pray that she will grow up to understand that her worth isn’t found in the clothes she wears, the make-up she puts on or the shape of her body. I pray that she makes wise choices and rises in the strength of knowing that she was made in the image of our creator to do great things.
But she won’t comprehend these things on her own. Left to society, she will likely get swept away in the current of depravity and chaos. She needs to be surrounded by people who will speak life into her young heart.
I can’t always be there for my daughter, and this breaks my heart. But I have to trust that she is in the hands of our Father, and I have to be intentional about the time I do have with her. My time with her matters, and hopefully the words I leave with her will help guide her as she grows older.
I will aim to teach my daughter many things as she ages. I know she will make mistakes along the way. I know she will fall and sometimes need to be gently picked back up again. She will also reach an age where she will test the things that her parents have taught her, and to some degree try to resist. But through it all, I will strive to instill these key values in her heart so that she will always have them as a compass, especially when I’m no longer here to pick her up.
You are not alone
As long as I live, I will be here for you. You have my heart, and it has been yours since the day I first held you in the hospital. But there will come a time when I am no longer here to hold your hand, to kiss your pain away, and to guide you through uncertainty. But you are not alone. You are loved more than you can ever imagine by a Father who watches over you in heaven, and it is because of his love that we even have this incredible life together. I hope that I have modeled his love in the most authentic way, so that you will never be jaded or cringe when you think about a father’s love. I hope that you will always seek to feel his presence, especially in the dark times of your life, just as you would come to me when something hurt. You are not alone. No matter how lonely your feel or how overwhelming life becomes. Even in those times when you stand alone, watching everyone else around you going in a different direction. When it seems so hard to hold onto your beliefs and when compromise seems an easier route. You are not alone.
It’s not about you
You are fiercely loved, even in those times when you don’t get your way. Even when you stick out your lip and glare at me over your arms crossed over your chest, with those big eyes shining from the tears rolling down your face. There are many times that you don’t understand why things just can’t go your way, but this life is much bigger than you. Our lives are not our own. We are not called to be selfish and to view the world through distant eyes. We are called to heal, to love and to engage, and we cannot do those things when we spend all of our time and energy chasing after our own desires. And unfortunately this lesson sometimes hurts. It sometimes seems unfair. As you watch your friends around you get away with whatever they do, or when other parents buy their little girls everything advertised on television, I know it hurts as you try to understand why you can’t have it all too. But life is so much more than the things we possess. You will never be without, but respect and humility grow in the moderation of our desires.
Don’t be afraid
Don’t fear this world or the crazy things you see in it. Fear will only blind you and close your heart. See the world for the glimmer of hope that still exists. See it for the beauty woven into the fabric of creation. Never stop being in awe of things like the sunrise and the graceful flutter of a butterfly. As you look upon this world with awe, you are seeing a glimpse of God, who has sought to express himself in every crashing wave, in every flake of snow, and in every tree branch that captures the summer breeze. Fear will rob you of these things, and it will rob you of the passion that I want you to feel in your heart as love grows within you. Always dance, always sing, always pursue what you know is right and good and beautiful. Don’t hide your face when the tears are falling and never hide your beautiful smile. Laugh often. Shine. Shine brightly for all to see, and don’t be afraid of the jealousy or the mean words. Don’t let those things hold you back. Find the gifts that are waiting to be released inside you and use those gifts to bless others. Don’t ever settle for less than what you know is possible. Expect great things of those around you and of yourself. And never be afraid to speak, even when you are uncertain, even when your voice cracks and your hands tremble. Learn to live free of fear and you will soar, and as you rise higher and higher you will lift others up with you. Daddy loves you, so don’t be afraid.
“Courage, sacrifice, determination, commitment, toughness, heart, talent, guts. That’s what little girls are made of.” Bethany Hamilton
Love is the sacred thread that holds all of these values together. If our daughters don’t know that they are loved, they will never flourish. They will always feel like a shadow of themselves. And how desperately do we need strong women of character with whole hearts and sharp minds to lead the charge and to stand for other little girls to look up to!
It may not always start in the home. But for my little girl it certainly will.