Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Dear Daughter

I think about what it would be like to raise a girl in this world. I’ve written many versions of a letter to my daughter, telling her all the things I want her to know about being a woman in this world. I want to protect her and keep her from some of these things, but I know I won’t always be able to. I pray she’ll be a warrior. I pray she’ll be strong and fight with grace, courage, and compassion. I pray she’ll be a healer. I pray she’ll leave behind things that flourish and grow and make the world more beautiful.

Dear Daughter,

With great joy and fear do I introduce you to this world. I have great joy because there are so many wonders I can’t wait to introduce you to. Season changes, mountain ranges, beaches, cities, people of every size and color, music, stories, and food. There is so much amazing food! I can’t wait for you to meet this world, but I also can’t wait for this world to meet you. You are a force to be reckoned with and I can’t wait to see what you’re going to make of this life you have to live!

But with great fear I also introduce you to this world. I dread the day you will find out that for all the progress we’ve made in this nation, life still is not fair for women. I dread the day you’ll discover that you will often have to work twice as hard to receive renown and glory in the work force. I dread the day the world will tell you your body isn’t good enough. I dread the time your friend will betray you for the cheap affection of a boy and the time a boy first shames you for not having sex with him. I dread the censure you’ll receive from other moms for the way you parent. I dread the struggles you’ll have in a dating world where the rules are ambiguous and the competition is thick.

I dread the day you’ll find out this world is not easy. But I hope that you’ll find out some other things, too. I hope one day, you’ll discover these things:

It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to weep. It’s okay to mourn. There are so many things in this world that are not the way they are supposed to be. It’s okay to be upset and wish things were different. The world will roll its eyes and say things like, “There goes that girl again. Crying all the time.” The world will shame your tears and tell you to keep it together. I can’t promise there won’t be times that you will have to hold it in. I can’t promise that there won’t be times your tears will cause problems. I wish I could tell you your tears will be accepted all the time. They won’t be. But that doesn’t mean it’s the way it should be. Your tears are a gift from God in a world full of sorrows. They are not weakness. Be sad for people who can’t cry. Because not being able to cry is very, very sad. 

It’s okay to fail. It’s okay to fall flat on your face for trying something new. It’s okay to fall flat on your face a hundred times. A hundred million times, if that’s what it takes. It’s okay to feel like you’re pounding your fist against a wall that seems as if it won’t budge. Because, one day, it will budge. It will crumble and fall. Maybe not in the way you first imagined. But with every failure you will grow stronger and every failed dream will produce an even more beautiful and refined dream that was better than the dream before it. Fail often. Fail daily. Fail extraordinarily.

It’s okay to dream. Dream. Dream. Dream. All the time. Have lots of dreams. Have big, crazy, outlandish dreams. Write them down and paste them on your wall. But know this, the older you get, the more you’ll be tempted not to dream. That’s because you’ll experience the pain of disappointed hopes and you’ll feel like it would be better not to dream at all. Disappointed hopes are some of the most painful things. It hurts badly. But that’s why we have tears. We cry for those hopes that died, and then we get out our pen and paper and make some more dreams. If tears make us human, so do our dreams.

It’s okay to be a woman. Scratch that. It’s AWESOME being a woman. There are so many downsides to being a woman in this world that sometimes we forget what a powerful, majestic, incredible force a woman is. As a woman, you are a human who embodies both grace and power, both beauty and strength. There are so many things in this world that a woman is told she can’t do. We forget all the things only a woman can do. You as a woman represent God. You are made in God’s image and represent a unique aspect of God. You will learn wonderful, complex, mind-blowing things about God by being a woman. You will teach the world attributes of God just by being a woman. There are things the world can’t learn about God without you. Your womanhood isn’t just important, it is vital! Woe to the world, the church, the individual that doesn’t acknowledge your power and your value as a woman.

With great joy and great fear do I surrender you to this world. With great joy and fear do I acknowledge that someday soon, I won’t be able to fight your battles for you. With great joy and fear, do I realize that while the world will leave you battered, bruised, and broken YOU will leave the world better than the day you met it. And one day, you’ll write a letter to your daughter, and tell her all the things you learned. And those things will be wiser and different than the things your mother learned. And you’ll introduce your daughter to the world. You’ll hold her up with pride and say, “Hey world, meet my girl.”

Photo by London Scout

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