As school starts back for many of us in the coming weeks, so does all the ins-and-outs of life with the young women in our lives. Sometimes I look at my daughter and see glimpses of the woman she is becoming. It’s very easy to think that she has it all together, understands the world better than I did at her age, and that she is the fierce person she portrays herself to be. Other times, I see my little girl. I wonder where the time went. And, more importantly, if I’ve done all I can do to prepare her for this life.
Despite all her techno-savvy, her penchant for fashion, and her endless yearning to seek and define sibling justice, at the end of the day she’s still a child. A growing one, yes. But, inside, one that yearns to still be held, loved, and to be guided through life as best I can.
And so this is for the daughters . . . for my daughter and for yours:
I love you more than I can express in words. I pray that I will always make you feel loved, cherished, and that you always feel at home when you’re with me. As you grow into a beautiful young woman, I want you to know that I see you for who you are—even when you don’t think I do, or the world doesn’t. You are amazing.
The more you grow, the more I realize how much I want to tell you. About life. About who you are. About who God wants you to become. And so, I hope you don’t mind these words of wisdom from the woman who praises God for the opportunity to raise you.
In this life . . .
- You can only be who you are. And you are entirely enough. Don’t ever try to be someone you’re not. The world needs you just as you are. I know that because God made you this way for a reason. Don’t forget that.
- Strive to do your very best. In everything. Don’t compare your best to someone else’s best. You are individually designed to excel at certain things, but not all things. And that’s ok. See #1.
- Failure is one of the best things in life. Ok, I know it doesn’t feel like it when it’s happening. But, it’s the sole thing that motivates us to do better, to seek more, and to rise to a higher level. Each failure in your life is an opportunity God is giving you to look around, to see what got you in that position, and then look up to Him and ask Him “Hey, what now?” Make sure you listen for His answer.
- You will never please everyone. Not me. Not your friends. Not your teachers. You aren’t meant to and you shouldn’t. Strive to please God alone. He has your best interest at the center of His heart at all times. The rest of us try, but our own messiness gets mixed in. Trust in Him alone.
- Stay physically strong. Continue to run. To Dance. To play sports beyond your school years. When you long to criticize your body because you can’t do something, or it doesn’t look the way you want it to, stop yourself. It is beautiful in every stage. Make sure it is healthy, too.
- Don’t assume that you’re always right. Mostly, you won’t be. You will misunderstand why people do things, why they believe what they believe, and who they are. None of us can ever know the true lives that others lead. Give people and situations grace.
- Don’t assume that you’re always wrong. People will misunderstand why you do things, why you believe what you do, and who you are. Don’t be so hard on yourself that you don’t look at the situation objectively. Give yourself grace.
- When people do things that break your heart, forgive them. Each of us has our own row to hoe. Some look easy, but are filled with difficulties that no one else can see. Usually, it’s not about you at all. Stand up for yourself. Tell them you’ve been hurt. Then, let it go as you are able to.
- The world is messed up. It was when I was a girl, when you were a girl, and when your children come . . . it will still be so. It takes courage to stand up and be someone different from what they world says you must be. You are wonderful because of your uniqueness. Don’t let the world tell you what it is to be wonderful. Find your own wonderful, then share it with the world.
- All attention is not equal. Do not simply seek attention from boys. Seek love. Don’t settle for anything less than amazing. God has a specific person in mind for you someday. Make sure you are looking for substance, not bling.
- Right the wrong. When you see things that are wrong, do what you can to make it right. The very fact that you see it means that God chose for you to witness it. Don’t walk by it and pretend it’s not there. Do something. And, remember to fight for yourself as much as you do for others.
- Investigate what you don’t understand. Don’t assume that what you are told is always the truth. Look into it for yourself. Convince yourself first. Then, stand behind your convictions. This is especially true for your faith.
- It’s okay to disagree with people. You are your own person. You have an opinion that matters and has the capability to make a difference in the world. Just say it with grace.
- Embrace your femininity in your own way. Don’t let the world tell you what it means to be a woman, what a woman should/shouldn’t do in life, or what defines beauty. Decide for yourself.
- You are not your parents. We know this. Even when we don’t.
- Put God first in your life. Above me and Daddy. Above your friends. Above your own children someday. He is the One who loves you like no other, knows you like no other, and understands you like no other. His relationship with you will go far beyond the reach of what you can ever have with anyone else. Don’t miss out on it.
I still have a gracious plenty of time with you in our home, and your learning to separate from me is a normal path in life. But, I dread it because you are singlehandedly the most incredible young woman I’ve been blessed to know. I will try to let you go gracefully, but when I don’t, forgive me please. I will never love another like I do you, and I don’t always know what to do with that.