Dear thirteen-year-old me,
As you tread the cusp between girl and woman, you’ll discover that being female is anything but straightforward. God’s Word says one thing, the world screams the opposite, and your own emotions roil in a confused mess.
I want to share what I’ve learned so far in life. I hope you can learn from my mistakes, and that it makes your own journey down the road of womanhood easier.
It’s OK if you don’t understand yourself
It’s frustrating when people moan about the infuriating inexplicability of a woman. It’s worse when even you don’t understand your feelings.
Why am I crying again? Why do I get irritated when people ask if I have a boyfriend? I was fine a moment ago–why do I want to punch something now? Why does this guy suddenly give me butterflies when I’ve known him for ten years?
It’s OK to ask those questions, and it’s OK not to have the answers. I don’t think a woman’s emotions were meant to be explained and neatly boxed, so embrace it instead of fighting it. Don’t let your emotions rule you, but rest in the fact that you will feel things you can’t explain – and that’s OK. God understands even when you don’t. He knows what you need, and he hears what you’re trying to say.
Regarding guys: don’t be idealistic.
Boys are fun and make great friends, but don’t expect them–not even your future husband – to be amazing dream-fulfillers who do everything right. They’re just human. And they’re guys, so they’re wired completely differently than us. Don’t take things personally or let them upset you.
And remember to be cautious around boys. You are a woman, which means you’re very emotion-driven. Hold back on falling head-over-heels-in-love with your guy friends and professing your undying loyalty to them. Wait until you’re sure those emotions are reciprocated or God gives you the go-ahead to speak. Otherwise you can set yourself up for deep disappointment, ruined friendships or full-on heartbreak–and the guy won’t know what on earth went wrong, because he thought you were just buddies.
Be careful not to share too deeply with your guy pals; they must earn the right to have you open your heart and tell them certain things. (This is especially tricky with social media, as it’s far easier to share over a screen than face-to-face.) Emotional attachment to a male friend is unhealthy and can leave deep wounds, so avoid intimate things like praying alone with them. Things like strictly private conversations with a guy (other than your fiancé or husband), should set the alarm bells screaming.
Don’t let the world feed you lies about true strength
Don’t believe the lie that a strong woman is constantly trying to assert her worth, and has to prove her toughness and equality to men.
Remember what the Bible says about clothing yourself “with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God” (1 Peter 3:4).
In God’s eyes, a strong woman is not the assertive, brash gal who twirls pistols and shoves her opinions down others’ throats, but the lady who is secure in herself and who she is in God. She is strong to the Lord.
Strong, godly women take risks and do remarkable things, but they are also confident enough in their God-given identities to be content with going unnoticed or serving quietly in the background. They don’t need to prove themselves or always be the center of attention.
Never believe the lie that strength lies in suppressing your emotions
It’s incredibly brave to be real about your pain, to be broken and vulnerable in front of others, to allow yourself to cry. It takes a huge amount of courage to feel deeply, thus opening yourself to potential hurt and disappointment.
It’s OK to feel. It’s OK to be broken and emotional. It’s all part of the wonderful adventure of being human and a woman.
Do not underestimate yourself
God has given you an amazing inner strength. I believe it’s part of how he equipped us women for the calling he placed on our lives.
My dear sister, you are a lot stronger and more resilient than you believe. Cling to that when you feel too overwhelmed to breathe, or when the pain of your broken heart threatens to choke you. Remind yourself that nothing is ever as bad as it seems initially. Lift your eyes to the Lord and remember that He is an amazing Healer; no one mends as gently and perfectly as Him.
Embrace your complex emotions and remember that not understanding them is OK. Seek to cultivate healthy, “normal” friendships with boys, while being careful and realistic. Remember that God has a completely different idea of true strength than the world: He’s happy for you to feel deeply and express your emotions. And never forget that you have iron in your soul (even when it doesn’t feel like it).
Above all: keep pursuing Jesus.
Run after God, always seeking to know Him better and to have more of Him in your life. He is your first love, the only One who will ever satisfy your soul completely. Walk this journey with Him to become the woman He created you to be – in all her beautiful uniqueness, complexity, compassion, bravery, grace, gentleness and strength.
Dear thirteen-year-old me: A Letter to My Younger Self on Godly Womanhood is part two of a three part series on godly masculinity and femininity. Be sure to check out part one and finish the series by reading the final installment here.