To My Girls, The Ones I Birthed and The Ones I Encounter,
This will not be the only letter you receive from me, but it is, perhaps, the most important one I want to share next to the one that says to love Jesus and follow Him. You are special, important, loved. You each entered this world into the arms of love, so much love it sometimes hurt, so much love it is impossible to show it all. Your first wobbly steps, your words, your first days of preschool and grade school, all were recorded lovingly as moments leading to independence. And someday, those moments of independence will lead to days, years, a lifetime of independence. If you carry only a few messages in your backpack of memories from childhood, let this be one.
This world is a dangerous place for girls. There are overt dangers: attacks by strangers or supposed loved ones, human trafficking, persuasive pressure toward using your body as currency or for the pleasure of others. All of these dangers I read about every day, and I pray. I pray for protection of your body. I pray that you will never face these physical dangers that lead to emotional brokenness. I wonder if I have raised you with enough courage, enough street smarts, enough confidence to fend off attacks that may assail you. I wonder what the difference is between assurance and naivety. I wonder if you will know the difference, if you will be brave when the moment seems impossible. I pray that you will.
There is a bigger danger, though, than these outward physical attacks. It is the danger that lies inside of you, inside of me, inside of most women in the world today. It is that voice that says that you aren’t worthy, that you don’t deserve the very best. Some days the voice will say it is because you aren’t smart enough to compete for that dream job you have spent years preparing for. You might be tempted to answer that voice by deleting the resume you finally finished. Sometimes (too often) the voice will whisper that your thighs that rub together when you walk are too fat. You might respond, depending on your mood and the moment, that you will skip dinner, that you will run more and eat less. Sometimes that same voice will repeat and repeat and repeat that you are unloved and unloveable. In return, you will enter, or stay in, friendships and relationships that don’t validate your worth. You will give away pieces of yourself that you can’t get back to people who won’t value each part of you as the miracle I have seen it as since birth. And as you lose those bits and pieces in worthless endeavors and relationships, you will chip away at your own sense of worth. That little voice will silence you.
So my message to you is this: God has made you “fearfully and wonderfully”, and He loves you with the fierce love of a Father. I love you, and Dad loves you, and countless people love you. For those of you who don’t belong to me, someone loves you too, even when you cannot see it. And when you feel like no one loves you, love yourself. Love yourself enough to see your worth, to place high value on your body, to see beauty in yourself when the world screams at you to change, to have confidence in your mind and heart. You have intelligence beyond your own comprehension. You have abilities and ideas that add value to this world. Do not shortchange them.
You have feelings: own them. No one can tell you how to feel; if someone negates your feelings, he or she doesn’t value you. Know the difference between love and control, so that you won’t be ruled by someone else. Know God, and His boundless love, and measure the love anyone claims toward you against that measuring stick. You will find that, although we all fall short of perfect love, that measuring stick will make you relationship decisions easier.
You have worth. Inherent in your soul from the moment of conception, you are worthy. Do not allow the billboards, the beauty magazines, the insecure boys, the power-hungry businessmen to silence the voice within you that claims your worth or to twist your words into insecurity or self-hatred. When you claim your God-given worth, you have power to overcome a world that does not cherish you. And when the world threatens to defeat your worth, remember God’s love, and mine, and Dad’s, and create your own love army to help fight those battles.