Our Daughter Problem
They say girls in our society should have nothing to worry about. They should have the opportunity for education and choices far beyond generations before. They should have the attention and protection of public agencies and groups. They should be free to live whatever definition of the American dream they hope to be true. Yet, our daughters are just as vulnerable as they always were.
Parents and educators, society and culture, friends and mentors, groom our daughters to grow in a story about who they are and where they belong in this world. Here lies the problem. Not that our daughters don’t understand what they are taught. Not that our society is doing anything less than it promised. Rather the foundational problem is the story they hear. Today, the narrative for our girls goes something like this: Daughter, be whatever you desire. You have exclusive control over your body, your mind, your future. The only truth to know is found within your own individual heart. The greatest good for all is protecting each person’s autonomous choice. The most beautiful world tolerates and validates any whim of emotion. Daughter, you are expected to create your own amazing and unique identity – and, of course, proclaim it loudly to the world.
Down the hallway from these proclamations, the sound of muffled sobs is barely noticeable. Tucked in safely in a dark bedroom, a teenage daughter cries herself to sleep. It’s been a long day of disappointments. An unidentified war rages in her confused heart. An unknown enemy taunts every hope and comfort she has been taught to trust. No one ever told her this path of freedom would cause so much doubt.
She doesn’t know who she is. She can’t figure out what her heart wants. As she strives after her own individual choices, she is pushed away from a family who loves her. The truth found within her heart and mind seemed fuzzy, shifting back and forth every morning and every night. Who is she, really? How can she prove to the world she was special?
And this is why she can’t stop crying. Because another story always rumbles deep within. She fears that she cannot do it all. She is terrified that she is not as strong as they demand her to be. She can’t decide what path will make her happy. Everything she tries to do turns up unsuccessful. Everything she tries to be turns sour and unfulfilling. She does things that she doesn’t want to do. She wants things that she knows are bad for her. She can’t understand why her reality won’t let her be special. She is afraid that her hidden, ugly, muddled identity is not worthy of anyone’s love.
Daughters today have plenty to worry about. A battle for their story, their truth, and their identity has hunted them since the day they were born. And most of them will be made content to stay lost, crying, alone in the dark. But this tale of self-reliance and identity creation is not the true story for our daughters. It never has been.
Her greater story began when God created the heavens and the Earth. It is a story that was spoken by the author of all life. Man and woman, He created them in the image of God. Special, loved, with purpose and identity, God’s people were given the gift of life. Yet God’s beloved children followed their selfish desires, they chose death and destruction for all of God’s good gifts, and wondered if they could ever be worthy of anyone’s love. But this is when the story gets really good. In the face of destruction and doubt, torn relationships and pain, God writes an ending that neither His daughters - nor His sons - ever deserved. God sent His only Son to die for her sin so that she would be raised up to new life, so that she would be loved and cherished by her Father in Heaven, forever.
This is the true story that our daughters must hear. Their life depends on it. Sin and shame, confusion and humiliation have had their way with her. But now, from their beginning to their end, our daughters must know the truth about who they are: God’s good creation, not a creature of their own mind. She is a miserable sinner, struggling alongside every other person on this planet, yet totally forgiven on account of Christ. This forgiveness is a gift given to her from the outside of her own work and desire. She is a restored woman right this very second, even if she can’t always see it. She is beloved for eternity no matter what she feels in her heart.
Don’t assume she will learn this story from the world that surrounds her. The world rages against our story of the cross. This truth remains hidden deep within the foolishness of God’s Wisdom. But miraculously, God has given this to you for the sake of our daughters. And your words will be the way she continues to hear and believe her true story.