Monday, November 24, 2014

Influencing Culture By Raising Young Women of Character

With a “hip” prime-time lineup that boasts TV shows like “Toddlers In Tiaras” and “16 & Pregnant,” it doesn’t take much insight to see that girls--and women-- face an enormous pressure to meet the world’s expectations of beauty and fame. In fact, you can’t even go through the checkout line of a supermarket without seeing evidence of the increasing, albeit unrealistic, “standards of excellence” that have been brought forth by our society. The message to women is loud and clear:  Beauty is everything. After all, what is there?

     When I {thejoyfilledwife} was in my 11-year-old “awkward phase,” a pretty, blue-eyed blonde came to our house one Saturday to spend the day with my older sister. She was only 13 years old, but you would have never guessed it by the way she wore the latest fashions and newest make-up. She had ambitions to be a runway model one day, and, with her tall, slim physique, she definitely looked the part.

     As I walked into the room where she and my sister were taking pictures of themselves in front of the mirror, the girl immediately stopped what she was doing, looked me up and down, and, with a disgusted look on her face, said, “Your sister’s much prettier than you are. No one could ever love someone as ugly as you.”

     My heart sank as I turned around and walked toward my bedroom, my eyes full of tears. Those hurtful words rang over and over in my head for many years to come and determined much of what I thought of myself throughout my adolescent years.

     Although the episode was devastatingly cruel, it’s not an uncommon scenario, especially today. In fact, it would be considered tame compared to the ridicule some girls face on a daily basis.  Why the unnecessary cruelty? And why the tolerance for an unbiblical description of a woman’s beauty? How have we come to a time when childhood celebrities “gone bad” are the idols our girls look up to, and true women of noble character, like Joan Of Arc or Mother Teresa, are nothing more to our youth than a boring assignment in their history textbooks? Have the once admirable traits of strength, integrity, and faith been replaced with fame, materialism and sex appeal? And all before the ripe old age of 18?

     The birth of my first daughter opened my eyes to the wonderful world of motherhood. As Christian parents, my husband and I strive to raise our daughter to be a woman of noble character, like the one described in Proverbs 31:10-31. We long for her to forsake the idols of the world and look up to the faithful women of the Bible like Ruth, Esther and Priscilla. But in a world where the lusts of the flesh are plastered on every street corner and in every facet of media, that’s much easier said than done. We have a battle for our daughters’ hearts on our hands, and we must use every resource we have to win the fight.

Protecting Their Hearts
     What will it take to win this battle? The first step can be found in Proverbs 4:23. I love the New Living Translation of this verse, which reads, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Practically speaking, we must protect our daughters’ thoughts by guarding their associations: the TV shows they watch, the music they listen to, the time they spend on the Internet, the places they go and the values we promote in the home. Each of these things has a profound influence on their thoughts and the value they put on themselves. When they spend time with worldly people, they begin to adopt their behaviors. When they watch shows that promote sin or the tolerance of sin, they gradually become more accepting of those lifestyles. When we, as parents, put more emphasis on filling our homes with material possessions than we do on reading Word and praying together, we teach our children to be a lover of the world instead of a lover of God.

Powerful Influences
     We must never underestimate how outside influences will shape our children into the people they will become. We have a duty as parents to be good stewards over the responsibility we’ve been given to shepherd our children’s hearts and raise them up in the ways of the Lord.

     Do you want your child to become a follower of Christ? Proverbs 22:6 promises, “Direct your children onto the right path and, when they are older, they will not leave it.” What a blessing to know that, if we are faithful to guide our children according to God’s Holy Word, they will end up on the right path!

 It’s no secret that we have a tough battle ahead of us. The Enemy wants to win the hearts of our children almost as much as we want to win them for the Kingdom. But if we will choose to be a godly steward over our children and teach them to forsake the world and set their hearts on the things of God, we can find peace in knowing that the Lord will reward us for our faithfulness.  

***Written by thejoyfilledwife!