My Sweet Girl:
People told me when I was pregnant with you that the years would fly by, and now that you’re knocking on the door of 13, I see that more and more every day. You’re becoming a young woman right before my eyes, and since I’m being honest, while I love seeing you grow and change, there are days where I wonder what happened to my baby. Before I know it, you’ll be 30, and I will be sending you off on your first date. (Maybe I’m exaggerating a little with the age thing, but not by much.)
One of the rites of passage for a lot of teenagers is dating and falling in love for the first time. I remember those teenaged years all too well and how they can shape the rest of your life. It’s probably one of the reasons I ended up writing stories for teenagers, to help them deal with what can often be a confusing time, especially when it comes to relationships. As your mommy, it’s my job to help you navigate this season of life. Sooner than I’d like to acknowledge, you’ll fall in love for the first time, and before you do, there are a few things I need for you to know:
- Let God lead you, especially when it comes to love. Yes, I talk about God and having a relationship with Him a lot. Yes, I strive to raise you so that you will love Him and know Him for yourself. I do this because you will save yourself so much trouble if you let God lead your life now. Ask Him to direct you to the right boys to date. Remember, anyone you date has the potential of being your future husband. There is nothing wrong with praying for your future husband and your marriage before you meet “the one.” There is nothing wrong with wanting to be loved. Don’t be embarrassed about having crushes or thinking boys are cute. All of that is a normal part of growing up. Unfortunately, for a lot of people, so is heartache. You may date several frogs before you find a prince. Ask God to direct you to the right one. Don’t rely on your feelings because they will lie to you.
- You can’t genuinely love anyone until you love yourself. This is an ongoing conversation we keep having and for good reason. If you don’t love yourself and know who you are, how can you possibly love someone else? You’ll leave yourself vulnerable to falling for the first funky-tailed boy who comes sniffing around. Spend time getting to know you and figuring out who you are. Love yourself.
- Actions do speak louder than words. Anyone can say they love you. As you get older, you learn that for some people the words just come easy. I’ve had boys tell me they loved me, and because they said the words, I believed them. The problem is their actions told a different story. Someone who truly loves and values you is going to respect you. They are not going to intentionally do anything that hurts you. You won’t have to guess about their feelings or try and find hidden meaning in their actions. They won’t make excuses about why they can’t bring you around their family or friends (in fact they will be proud to show you off), they are not going to have multiple girlfriends, they are not going to disrespect others or belittle you, and they absolutely are not going to but their hands on you. If they are doing things like this, it is a sure sign that person does not love you. Do yourself a favor and move on—quickly. I’m telling you from personal experience that the longer you stay, the harder it is to leave. If you are spending more time crying or trying to figure out what the guy is feeling, it is not love, baby. As much as it might hurt, even though you may question whether you will ever love again, although it may seem like the tears will never end, let go.
- You are worthy of love. You are perfect just the way you are. At your age, I just felt ugly and awkward, and I was so insecure. I saw my friends in “relationships,” and I wanted to be in one too. It seemed they all had guys flocking around them, yet I couldn’t seem to get one to acknowledge my presence. I spent so much time wondering what was wrong with me. The truth was, there wasn’t anything wrong. I was perfect just the way I was, and so are you. Your worth is not determined by the number of boys you have around you or whether you are in a relationship.
- Don’t compromise who and whose you are in the name of love. I’ve seen it too often, girls posted up on social media showing off their body in skintight jeans and barely there tops or bragging about the number of guys they’ve been with. You are more than your body. You are a beautiful, smart girl. Yes, these girls get lots of attention, but is your body and the fact that you have had sex with every guy in your school really what you want to be known for? Is that really the kind of attention you want? Don’t get so caught up in wanting love that you are willing to do anything to get it.
- Keep your standards high. Don’t settle, especially when it comes to love. Don’t get into a relationship with someone just so you can say you have a boyfriend, especially when you know you don’t care about that person. It’s not fair to them or to you. Also, please know this: Sex will not make a guy stay with you. It won’t. Not for the long haul anyway. If a guy really loves you, he will respect you and your body. I’ve heard it said that a woman’s heart should be so hidden in Christ that a man has to seek Him just to find her. If a guy isn’t following Christ, don’t even entertain the thought of a relationship with him, let alone falling in love with him. Contrary to popular belief, you can control who you love and you can’t change a person. Bad boys seem cool in theory, but that is a mess in the making. Trust me, it’s just not going to work.
You may question if you will ever find love and get married. You will. Even if years go by and you start to wonder if love will ever find you, don’t lower your standards. Use that time to continue getting to know yourself. Go on trips, get another degree, try something new. When the time is right, love will find you, and when it does, you will realize it was absolutely worth the wait.
I love you more than anything. I am never going to tell you anything to hurt you. I want you to find love. I want to one day—in the very distant future—see a guy’s eyes light up when you enter a room and to see him love God and you. Right now, it is my job to protect your heart. So know this, if I see that a guy doesn’t mean you any good, if you don’t shut it down, I will, and I’m warning you in advance that I won’t apologize for it.