Tuesday, March 22, 2011

what a girl needs.

 {photo by lindsey vinson}

Girls with eating disorders.

Girls without daddies.

Girls who are depressed, hurting, and broken.

Girls without mommies.

Girls with abusive boyfriends, immature boyfriends, or no boyfriends at all.

Girls with unique purposes, passions, and gifts.

Girls without direction, guidance, or help.

Every beat of my heart belongs to these.

Because in some way or another, I have been one. Or I have known one.

I have been lost and confused, struggling to find my purpose.

My best friends have cut themselves. Starved themselves. Hated themselves.

I have watched them lose their way, and then rejoiced with them when they found it.

Now, I watch quietly as another, younger group of girls grows up, and I wonder: Who will help them?

This act of growing up cannot be done alone.

Girls need girls.

The most competent, loving, generous men on the planet could not begin to understand why a girl’s heart breaks when her boyfriend stops saying I love you, why she thinks it’s her fault when the phone no longer rings. They can’t understand what it means when our face fills with acne and somebody calls us ugly and every time we look in the mirror, that’s all we see.

They can’t understand slumber parties or late night giggle fests or the amount of food we’re all really capable of eating.

They don’t understand makeup or dressing for your body type or why Tom will always be perfectly suited for Meg.

They can’t fully understand our passions or our frustrations, our whims and our desires.

Mostly, though, they will never understand the unique God-given role we have been given as women.

In Christ’s body, in His church, girls need girls.

This isn’t radical. This is truth.

“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live… to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”

So Paul writes to Titus, many moons ago, far removed from the confused culture we today inhabit.

But the truth of his words — of The Word — remain.

Let the older teach the younger.

At 25, I am caught in between, and I am glad.

I am younger, eager to sit at the feet of the women who I have seen do it better: who love Christ, love their husbands, love the church, and do so in a way I cannot yet comprehend.

But now, as I climb into adulthood full throttle, I am also older, capable of speaking the truth in love to girls who are living what I have lived, experiencing what I have experienced.

And I remember! I remember my 12, 16, 18 year old self and I want to tell them what I would have told me: To be kind to those who don’t look like you. To love the girl in the mirror. To not be afraid of your passions, but to pursue them. To accept the truth that is God and His Son because that is the one thing in this life that won’t ever change. To delve into a deep, meaningful relationship with Him, because He deserves nothing less.

I’m not always given the opportunity to say those things, and I have never much liked being silent. It is tearing at me inside, I think, as I watch these girls muddle through to adulthood, in desperate need of someone older. And yes, someone female.

Over and over again the Scriptures tell us about being eyes, feet, arms, legs. We are the body, but what happens when the clothes are too tight, and the arm can’t do what it’s supposed to do?

If the arms are bound up in a straitjacket, can they still love? Can they still teach? Can they still hold the hands of those who are coming up behind them?

The answer, I think, is yes. In small ways and in quiet ways, I suppose, until someone finally decides to listen, to loosen the ties that bind, to acknowledge: Girls need girls. In the world. And in the church.

Girls need to see women who are passionately in love with their Lord. They need to be taught by women who are unique and quirky and confident, women who work behind the scenes and who lead by the Spirit. They need to know that we’re not all cut from the same pink polka dot fabric: That we are eyes, feet, arms, and legs, and that we each make up the beauty that is Christ’s body.

Girls need girls. The younger need the older.

The question is, are we -- as women who begin to find ourselves in that latter category -- ready to do something about it?


Jessica said...

I struggle with this because I always feel inadequate to teach. I feel like I am the younger in need of the older, yet I keep aging. Still, I am fearful because I have so much to learn. I get frustrated in my specific situation because I feel like the older don't do their part and teach me, but then what does that say about me and what the younger girls think about why I won't teach them. What a cycle. And the really crazy thing is that I taught like it was my job in the past. I loved the younger girls. I was like you--I had a passion to work with the younger girls. I led small groups and spoke in large settings. Now I shy away from everything. Sigh... I need to pray about this...

AbbieBabble said...

You express it so beautifully, Annie. It's so true- girls need other girls. It's one of the best parts about being a girl, I think, this sisterhood thing we have going on. One of the hardest, too. You raise a good point, though, and what a challenge- what are we prepared to do about this sisterhood? How can we foster it, learn from it, grow from it? You've got this girl thinking on a Tuesday morning!

jenna said...


Whitney said...

Man. I love your blog. I don't always take the time to read it, but I should. EVERY time I get a little blessing.

God's gifted you with a desire to serve. I love that.

Jennifer said...

Wow. This is just what I needed to be reminded of today. Thank you! We do need each other. We need to learn from and teach each other. <--- This is an area where I need to improve!

Marli and Memory said...

wow annie. it's so true that girls my age need the older women for encouragment in their youth. but it's true that we all need each other at any age in our life.
even though i'm still in my teens, i realize i am an example to others, especially little girls at church. i guess i forget this sometimes.

Jilliebeanie said...

I would have told my 12, 16, 18 year old self those exact same things. Once again, I am inspired and convicted by what you write.

Marli and Memory said...

LOVE IT! Thanks for the reminder!


kimberly larson said...

Teaching doesn't mean that you have all of the answers. You can teach from your experience, sympathize with those who are hurting, pray for those who are in need. I always try to learn something new everyday. You are open to understanding- this is a great gift from God! Encourage yourself in the Spirit, and love will show the way. I am 45 yrs. old- ministering in my church, and encouraged by new believers and their sweet spirits- their hunger for faith, grace, and to know the will of God. Love your neighbor as yourself- He will bless you and keep you.

jkhdancer07 said...

I am in love with your blog posts. This one brought tears to my eyes.

chet said...

Excuse me, but I totally get why Tom and Meg are perfect for each other. Other than that, this was perfect.

Anonymous said...

I think we're really supposed to be caught in the middle always. We need a Paul and a Timothy...being encouraged and encouraging. Invested in and investing. Loved and loving. I'm struggling with this right now and this post was so uplifting to my lonely heart. I moved a couple months ago and I feel so disconnected. I've found lots of places to invest...lots of girls to encourage...but nowhere to be encouraged. I desperately need some feet to sit at. I need some wisdom to soak in over cups of coffee. I have that back home, but home is not here. I'm looking and looking...thanks so much for posting this--it reminded me that those women are worth searching for and how important it is for me to be that kind of woman while I search.

Anne said...