And I thought I'd give you the bullet points first. Then you can decide if you really want to keep reading today and into next week.
Here are the five things that came to mind as I've pondered the asking-for-her-number-incident. Things I want my daughter to know. Things I hope she'll strive to be. Things I think will protect her heart, mind and body. I see them in blossoming in her already and I pray she'll grow into them more and more.
1. Prioritize Christ
2. Pretty is as Pretty Does
3. Protection May Lie in Politeness
4. Personality Permanence is Important
5. Permission Should Be Requested
I didn't intend on alliteration, but it just sort of happened and I went with it. Here are my thoughts on the first two:
Remember Liesl and Rolf in The Sound of Music? Dancing in the gazebo while it rained? Oh, the innocence, the youthful rebellion, the naiveté. That scene is so memorable, because we've all been there or longed to be. Rolf says some very insightful things to Liesl during that romantic interlude:
You are 16 going on 17
Baby its time to think
Be canny and careful
Baby you're on the brink
You are 16 going on 17
Fellows will fall in line
Eager young lads
And roues and cads
Will offer you fruit and wine
And Rolf is absolutely correct! This will happen. Men are going to ask for phone numbers, and they are going to be very charming and irresistible in the asking. It's all wonderful and good and meant to be, but caution and care are still required. (Roué: lecherous dissipated man, Also one devoted to a life of sensual pleasure; a debauchee) Rolf certainly proves this to be true not long after offering his older, wiser, protection with a kiss in the gazebo. Communist traitor!
So, of course this whole boy-asking-for-my-daughter's-phone-number took me back to my own high school years. I must have been the most naive of what must have been the popular crowd at my high school. I was a cheerleader, and unfortunately that automatically equaled "popular crowd." But I never felt totally comfortable there, and definitely not as cool. (I'm guessing I wasn't alone in this feeling, but no one would have admitted it at the time.) One football player and friend liked to call me "green" i.e. lacking sophistication or worldly experience; naive, easily duped or deceived; gullible, and it was true on so many levels.
There was one thing that I wasn't completely naive about though, and that was Christ. Oh, I was far from perfect, and I said and did plenty of hurtful things to friends and family the way teens often do, but somehow I knew there were a few boundaries that should not be crossed. Drinking was one. Sex was another. Rebelling against adults and authority yet another. (Yes, a tee-totalling, abstinent, rule-follower. Coolness factor: LOW.) (And yes, I realize there can be problems therein, but it served me well at the time.) It may have been a dysfunctional family that caused me to cling to what shreds of biblical truth I knew at the time, but it was also by God's grace. I could have gotten into so much trouble, but I didn't. I had many opportunities to ruin my life, but He granted me a strong will and stubborn self-restraint that protected me time and time again.
It brings me to the first of five things I want my daughter to know and do:
1. Prioritize Christ: No, it's not cool. Yes, you will be teased, mocked, maybe bullied. No, it will not win you popularity points or Instagram followers. Yes, people will exclude you because of it. But yes, it is the best and right thing to do. I promise. And I get it. It's even harder to do today than it was in the 1980's, but it is so very important. Not only is Christ the only one worthy of your complete devotion, honoring Him above all speaks to your own strength and confidence.
Also, Psalm 37:4 says
"Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart."
Kayla and I just finished reading through a book called Authentic Beauty. I highly recommend it. It does bring up very uncomfortable things from the real life situations of the author's teen years, so beware. I was grateful for the prodding to discuss subjects I would have probably avoided all together. Things no one ever told me, but things I desperately needed to know.
Here's what the author, Leslie Ludy, says about Psalm 37:4:
This is one of my favorite verses. It illustrates the loving faithfulness of our Lord. As we dwell on Jesus Christ, He fills our hearts with His desires for our lives, and we are completely filled by Him. And yet, most of us have it backward. We aggressively try to meet the desires of our hearts by pursuing romantic relationships, popularity, comfort, material possessions, or achievements instead of truly delighting in Jesus Christ.
Prioritizing Christ is the top priority in "facing a world of men," and I pray my daughter will be strengthened to do just that, now and in the years to come. No matter how uncool it may be. My uncoolness in Christ landed me the caring respect (both then and now) of a long-term high school boyfriend who did not take advantage of me (though I don't recommend high school boyfriends!), and the loving, sacrificial devotion of my husband. I am forever grateful.
I'm already talking too much today, so I'll just do one more of the five in this post, and it has to do with physical beauty. Those boys at the track meet? That stranger at the sushi case? They really only had one thing to go on: attractiveness. Without knowing anything about her except that she can run fast, or that she has a thing for sushi, something compelled them to take it a step further by requesting future contact, and that thing was physical appearance.
What a blessing! What a delight! Every woman. Let me repeat, EVERY woman wants to be beautiful. And yet hardly any woman looks in the mirror and thinks I am just so beautiful. Quite the contrary. So, when a man shows attention based on physical appearance, one of her deepest desires is being met, no matter how shallow it may seem. It's just a fact, and it can actually be a dangerous one. It's another aspect of the created genders. The woman is the crown of creation, the last of the Creator's very good creations. In fact, the only "not good" thing about creation was that it was without her for a time. When she finally arrives on the scene, the man is totally overwhelmed by her beauty, by the gift that she is. Since the garden, women have enjoyed and have even been created for this response to their appearance.
But Scripture also gives a warning about putting too much emphasis on physical beauty. Proverbs 31 says beauty is deceptive and fleeting. I Peter says that it's fine to have and enjoy external adornments and physical beauty, but that what is most precious is gentleness, kindness and a humble, peaceful spirit. External beauty does not last, but internal beauty does.
So I also want my daughter to know that:
2. Pretty is as Pretty Does: It's an old-fashioned saying. Chaucer first used it in speaking of men: Handsome is as handsome does. (And this is certainly true as well!) What it means is that you could be quite beautiful on the outside, and quite ugly on the inside. That just because you are good-looking, doesn't necessarily mean you are a good person. Beauty and good looks will eventually fade. The person you are inside will not, so cultivate your inner beauty. And don't be side-tracked by the attention your external beauty receives. In other words, it's great that the boy at the track meet thinks you're pretty, but don't stop pursuing the prettiness of your own heart and character.
I've been privileged to see this play out right before my eyes on numerous occasions, but one stands out. Robert and I were at a weekend conference. Somehow we got seated with the keynote speaker and his wife. She was beautiful. I was mesmerized by her beauty. An older woman, but striking. Is it weird that I notice the beauty of women more than the attractiveness of men? Well, I do. Honestly, I think many women do. Anyway, it was a very nice, white tablecloth affair and eventually most of us around the table had sipped on our water glasses until they were empty. The table was large and there was a pitcher of water in the middle. Just as I pondered how to go about getting that pitcher for a refill, the woman got up, gracefully took the water pitcher from the table and proceeded to walk around the entire table filling each one of our water glasses. She was the beautiful guest of honor, and yet it did not prevent her from serving the rest of us. That's true beauty.
Kayla, you are naturally pretty. Now, do pretty.
And now, Robert and I are off to that Western Mass Track meet which our very pretty and pretty fast daughter qualified for. Have a great weekend!