Very recently a sweet, loving friend of mine posted a question about something and it really brought something to mind that we don’t really talk about enough. Self-respect.
As Christians we are called to not conform to this world, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.“-Romans 12:2. We are also reminded to “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”-Proverbs 22:6. So what exactly does this mean to a Christian parent? How are we supposed to LIVE this?
I struggled with this too. I grew up very much IN and OF the world. I couldn’t wear a small enough bikini or short enough shorts. Oh and the attention I got from it? LOVED it. Loved it so much that it became the only thing I craved. If I wasn’t getting stared at or chased after then, well, I simply had NO value! I knew how to talk, how to act, and how to dress to maximize the attention I got and I prided myself on being able to attract and get any boy/man I wanted to. I was 12 when I began recognizing my ability to use my body, my sexuality, as an asset. Let me not forget to add that I didn’t come from a Christian family. I came from a mother who was married 7 times in her life and is still, to this day, a drug addict and an alcoholic. My biological father was also a drug addict and alcoholic and had a very small part in my life, mostly not by my choice. The values that I NEEDED were not taught to me either by word or example. This is not to gain your pity but to lay a foundation. Because of all of these factors I didn’t know any better and the enemy dug his heels in very early with me. As a result I was a promiscuous teenager, had a daughter when I was 20, and was unfaithful in my first and second marriage.
Even as my own daughter grew up and began developing into a beautiful young woman I said on several occasions, “well if she has the body for it why not let her wear it?” I actually cringed as I was writing that. I had no idea what it meant to have self-respect, self-worth, or value if it didn’t depend on my looks and my body so why would I teach my own daughter any different? I praise God every day that He made her so very much like me but also so very ,much UNlike me. For years she was raised watching the movies she had no business watching at an age that was inappropriate. She was encouraged to fit in. I tried to buy her clothes that flattered her body. I was a much different person then and I really had no clue to the potential damage I was doing to myself and to my own child.
I am so blessed to say that my incredibly talented and beautiful daughter is now 21 years old and she is not anything like I was. She has much more self-respect and value than I ever did at her age. She has accomplished more in 21 years than I could have and despite my ignorance she turned out pretty darn good. Thanks, Jesus!
As I grew older I also grew closer to God. By the time I was 30 I was “spiritual” but not “religious”. After Erick and I had been together for a few years and he had shoved this FAITH thing down my throat I began to develop more of a relationship with my Creator. After 10 years of marriage he finally talked me into going to church and the rest is history. I gave my life to Christ and I was saved on September 27, 2013. My eyes were opened. I began to understand so many things that I never did before.
I also now had another young daughter to raise up and some decisions to make. Who did I want her to be? What kind of man did I hope she would marry? How did I want her to look at herself in the mirror? What kind of mother did I want her to be? What would I have told myself to do or not do if I could go back in time? I had to decide.
I chose God. I chose what He wanted me to do. I read the Bible, cover to cover several times, and I prayed. His answers to me were, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.”-Proverbs 31:30, and, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.“-Psalm 139:14. I wanted my daughter to be, “clothed with strength and dignity,and she laughs without fear of the future.“-Proverbs 31:25. And if I wanted her to be that way and to have an abundance of self-respect, value, and dignity I needed to be the example. I can’t just tell her and teach her, I need to SHOW her. To not would be hypocrisy.
When I was 30 years old I got my first tattoo. I also used to have my nose pierced and the truth is that I loved it. I now have 3 tattoos. Is it sinful for me to have a nose piercing? No. It is sinful for me to have tattoos? No, it’s not. In the Bible, in Revelation 19:16 we are told, “On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords.” That’s a tattoo. Sorry. Are mine tasteful? Yes. Are they in sexually explicit areas of my body? No. Do I regret them even though I got them before I knew Christ? Absolutely not. I was 30, not 13.
Would I want my daughter to get a nose piercing or a tattoo? Honestly it depends. It depends on her age (in our house the standing rule is 18 and not under my roof). I have heard people say, “well then that just encourages her to go and do it behind your back.” Does it? If I live the example for my child, if I teach her and raise her in the ways of the Lord, if I guide her gently and shelter her from the vulgarity of this world, does it really mean that? I’m blessed to say that it doesn’t. My oldest daughter rebelled but after reading about who her mother was back then can you blame her? I can’t. Does my younger daughter have any reason to rebel? I honestly don’t believe so. She is being raised in the ways of the Lord and being taught self-respect and self-worth at a very early age. She SEES it in her mother and in her father. She sees it in the girls she goes to church with and the women her mother interacts with. It is being lived out in front of her.
Now we still have our struggles with things. She wants to dye her hair and she wants these clothes or to wear makeup. Why? Because she sees her friends doing it (well she did when she was in public school anyway). Since taking her out of public school she has stopped trying to “fit in” and it has become less of a desire for her. She’s only 9, what do I have to look forward to? A lot of PRAYING. I trust with all my heart that if I live the life as a mother that I hope she will live as a young woman in this world, if I BE the EXAMPLE in everything I do, and I do mean EVERYTHING I have no reason to fear her rebellion. She is learning to see herself as only her God can see her. She values her heart, her nature, her love, her ability to be genuine and not her waist size, hair color, or beauty.
I know that my children are a direct reflection of me, just as I am called to be a reflection of Jesus Christ. If I want to know how I am doing as a parent, where I need to improve, and what I need to work on, all I need to do is look at my children. I need to see what they value, how they treat others, how they talk about themselves to themselves, etc. 99% of the time if they are not showing me what I WANT to see, I have to look at myself to see how I have modeled that for them and change it.
Our children, and especially our daughters, are being exposed to sexuality younger and younger. Bra commercials used to be so plain and only used mannequins and now we are violated with insanely skinny and unrealistically beautiful half-naked super models. And we see how men stare and drool over them. That shapes our daughters view of themselves. How we talk about ourselves, “I’m too fat”, “my butts too big”, well they are shaped by that too.
Up until this situation arose today I didn’t think twice about my youngest wearing a 2 piece bathing suit. She’s built-in a way that a one piece doesn’t really “fit” her correctly and I have always stood by that excuse but the truth really is, and my friends statement today really convicted me on this, that she really doesn’t like showing her belly and wants to wear a one piece bathing suit. She WANTS to be modest and I haven’t let her do that simply because it didn’t “look right”. The enemy will wiggle his way in there any way he can.
Our God created us perfectly the way He wanted us. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”-Psalm 139:13. I challenge mom’s everywhere to not just tell your children, but SHOW your children. Don’t let them be led by the world. Don’t force them to turn to their friends for that guidance and example. Be the woman God has called you to be, the mother God has called you to be, and be that example that she wants to live up to and someday teach her daughter to be.
I can see this becoming a series……GOD BLESS