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Jill1Hi. I’m Jill, a writer, speaker, editor, pastor, and all-around person in need of grace. Particularly now, since currently, I’m working on moving my blog and website information over to this lovely and venerable site. But for now, if you’d like to read current or past blogs, please visit me here.

I talk about a lot of things on my blog and in my books and articles. But usually, they focus on a few main topics. Fear, faith, empowerment (particularly of women and the next generation), caring for those less powerful, and trying to live freely the abundant life God has given us.

To let you know I know what I’m talking about with this fear and empowerment thing, let me give you some background.

warriors-together4I’m the kids who refused to step too far into the back yard after dark. The woman who slept with a nightlight when I was twenty. The person who would still rather face a rabid bobcat than walk up to a stranger and begin a conversation. Fear has been a really close acquaintance of mine. For too long.

Yet there is God, telling me to live “adventurously expectant.” To look at each day and ask, “What’s next?” And that enthusiasm isn’t supposed to lessen when today’s “next” wasn’t as great as I’d hoped. Or when we’re terribly certain tomorrow’s will be worse. “Fear not” may be the most common command in the Bible, but fear is also perhaps the most common human emotion. What’s happening here?

I don’t want to live life as a grave-tender, so wrapped in fear of what might be that I lose the time in between. I want to live an adventure for God’s kingdom, and I want to do it with you. I want to know who I am, and I want you to know who you are, because of who He is.

I want us both to know the identity God put in us when he created the imago dei in the garden. He hasn’t rescinded that deal. I want to see you and hear you and know you–and I want you to know He already sees and hears and knows you.

To prove I’m serious, here’s your first story.

I’m terrified of spiders. If you don’t believe this, you’ve never seen me run out of the shower shrieking because there was an eight-legged creation of God on the tile wall. Which is a good thing. No one should see me run out of the shower. Ever.

I hyperventilated if I saw a picture of a spider. But before leading my fist mission trip, I decided, no more. Time to face it. It can’t be as bad in reality as in imagination. Sure it can’t. Totally believed that, except not.

Spider (1)I marched into the pet store (OK, I crept into the fourth pet store, after failing three times) to find a tarantula and–you got it–hold that baby. The very helpful pet shop guy talked me through the traumatic process. He assured me the spider would just sit there. And you know what? It did. You know what else? They’re actually soft. And even cute in a . . . creepy, way-too-many-legs-and-eyes, spidery sort of way.

Seriously, God gave me such a calm that the whole thing was kind of surreal and interesting. Plus, I made sure to get it on video. Because, you, know, this is not going to be repeated on an annual basis or anything.

I’m not saying I’m going to go out and get a bird-eating tarantula for a housemate anytime soon. But–fear only has the power we give it. And I was tired of giving it.

The Lord knows I’d lived through way worse than spiders by that time, anyway.

So, let’s join one another. I can’t wait to see what happens here.

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Back to School Tips from a Finished Mom

c6def-img_3171For the first time in approximately 3700 years, I realized last fall that I did not have to care about when school started. Or ended. Or did basically anything at any time, except as it pertained to driving through school zones. I was done. Three kids more-or-less-successfully shepherded through school with a complicated combo of public, home, and private schooling. But we did it.

Those years were crazy, partly because I made them so with all the expectations I put on myself to be Awesome Mom. I do not wear that title well. The tiara slips. But Iwanted to.

I did the Pinterest lunch ideas before Pinterest existed. Ask my kids about the eggs. They still remember those eggs. I’m not positive they always ate them, but they remember them.

I created elaborate birthday parties at home. I chaperoned field trips, at least until I lost a couple kids at the Field Museum. It was totally not my fault they were not as fascinated by the minerals display as the rest of us. I even chaperoned a high school trip to Orlando, and that is hardcore, people.

And now it’s done. And I’m writing a post on five back-to-school tips when no child in my home is going back to school.

To see that post and find the five tips for back to school–real tips, not “how to pack the perfect lunch” tips, read on where this article was recently posted here.

Seven Olympic Events Moms Would Win

a18dc-img_2055We’ve been watching Olympics here. It’s the only time I am interested in sports. (Except when the Cubs are playing like nobody’s business, of course.) It’s also the only time I watch TV, although, in the spirit of transparency, we are not technically watching it on a TV. We don’t have a TV. So we are streaming Olympics in a complicated mix of totally legal maneuvers which involve Canadian announcers, who are Canadian polite and never get excited about anything. Anything.

But I have some suggestions. I feel it is completely unfair that most Olympic events are for the young. And the coordinated. So today, I offer to you—

Seven Olympic categories that should exist:

The Summer Vacation Floor Exercise

Contenders must maneuver a grocery store with three kids, each possessing his own mini cart, without losing a child, forgetting one item on the list, or cussing loudly enough to be heard when said mini cart hits her ankles for the fifth time. Then, she must perform five drop offs at different locations at least four miles apart, two of which must be at the same time. After this, she is forced to listen to 500 taped versions of “I’m bored” without making one negative facial expression or comment. Face palms or eye rolls are automatic disqualifiers. Finally, she must cook dinner while simultaneously getting four kids out of wet, sticky swimsuits, wiping all the water off the kitchen floor, making sure some of that “water” did not come from the dog who was not let out earlier, and find enough money in the couch cushions to go on a decent vacation for one week to somewhere that does not involve a tent.

The Facebook Slalom

Competitors race to see how many “likes” they can receive for one post while “liking” as many other posts as possible in the time limit provided. Extra points are awarded for posts that do not include cats or babies. Bonus for using multiple emojis in sequence.

Closely akin to this is . .

The Social Media Marathon

Contestants see who can waste the most time on social media without resorting to videos of the Kardashians or dogs gone wild (which are essentially the same thing). Buzzfeed quizzes are strictly prohibited. Anyone can spend hours there—it’s not a challenge. Extra points for burned meals and missed school pickups.

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The Multitask Decathlon

Athlete must, in one hour: cook dinner, help interpret long division, let dog outside, answer five emails, deliver twelve text messages regarding car pool schedules, grade the seven essays she didn’t get done during her “free” period because two students needed to discuss their parents’ disapproval of their future careers as Pokemon Go guides, schedule repair for the car that is making a “grrriiiiiieeeek” sound again, let the dog in, wash enough forks for eating dinner, and explain to her six-year-old what “you’re an animal baby, it’s in your nature” means and why, no, that boy in her class should not have said it. Extra points for not hitting her spouse with the dinner pan when he walks in and asks, “What did you do all day?”

The Toddler Snatch and Grab

Competitor is first put on hold with Comcast so that she knows putting down the phone risks getting back in the queue for another 35 minutes. Then, toddler is introduced, who promptly undresses, covers her naked little body in Sharpie marker, and escapes out the front door. The person who can present a clean, clothed child and repaired internet within the same day wins. (No one has yet claimed this gold. But it could happen.)

The Chicago Winter Moguls

Driver must complete course which includes black ice patches, unplowed stretches randomly placed, SUVs weaving in and out of traffic, and freezing rain. At end of course, driver must park car in space currently half-occupied by a seven-foot drift of plowed snow and enter arena in heels and dress with no traces of salt or water. Running out of gas is an automatic disqualifier.

The Fast Food Free for All

Competitor approaches drive up window and manages to order six different meals, all yelled to her at the same time from the back seats, each with special instructions, two allergy-free, and have the correct meals given to her at the next window. Fastest driver with no mistakes wins.

I would totally dominate at these events.

Your turn. What is your new Olympic event? What would you like us to petition the committee to add in four years? Your comments are appreciated.

7 Things to Tell Our Little Girls

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I just happen to have a LOT of wedding photos at the moment.

This week’s lie we tell girls is guaranteed to annoy some people. The fact is, most of you reading this are wives and mothers. Not all—most. So you might feel lessened by what I’m going to say.

Please don’t. I am one of you. So that’s hardly my goal. But one of the most pervasive lies we tell girls in the church is this—Your purpose in life is to be a wife and mother. Period. Other things added on might be fine, if they don’t distract you, but they are not the main event.

Don’t mistake me—being a wife and mom are fantastic aspirations. They are even better realities. I like the gig, especially now that those kids can cook dinner and run errands.

But—wife and motherhood are roles; they are not identities. Deeply ingrained, heartbeats of our lives, yes, but not indicators of our worth and fulfillment.

Because, see, if we transfer our identity to anything other than who we are in Christ, even a very good thing, we hang all of our self-worth on our job performance at that thing. (And let’s be honest here. My own job performance at the wife/mom things has hovered between abysmal and “You’re fired!” at times. The struggle is real.)

We give up the only identity that lets us know why we’re alive. And we make ourselves redundant when that “job” is over.

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I know—you[‘re staring at me through your screen with bleary sleep-deprived eyes and assuring me that this job will never be over. You will be changing diapers and overseeing homework and negotiating completely illogical arguments until the end of your natural life.

Except you know this isn’t exactly true because look at you. You were once that breastmilk-spewing tornado in your mother’s arms. You grew up. And too often, when our children grow up, if we’ve wrapped our sense of self around them, we stand there staring at the door wondering who we are and what we’re going to do now. What we’re going to be now.

All because of that one lie.

Why take this very good thing on as a lie we tell girls? Because it denies so many women a chance to see their value apart from their relationship to husband and child. If you have daughters, it tells them they cannot be complete or capable for God’s work in their own selves. If you have sons, it tells them they are a girl’s savior.

Men and women are partners in God’s kingdom. They make lousy saviors for one another.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” Genesis 2.18

Bear with a little Bible school here. The word “helper” (ezer) is used in the Old Testament almost exclusively as a description of God helping us. Hardly a needy role. The SAME WORD used here for Eve is used for God, repeatedly, to imply strong helper—an arm of power when another is weak and needs assistance. Eve was created to be what Adam needed when he could not handle life on his own—and even when he could.

And “just right”? It means a perfectly matched partner. Someone willing and able to join Adam equally in that whole “Fill the earth and govern it” shindig. Nothing secondary about it.

Men and women are partners in God’s kingdom. They make lousy saviors for one another. 

So isn’t this a mandate for the role of wife? Not if we look at all the independent, capable single women of the scriptures. (Seriously. Look some time.) It’s really a mandate for women to be strong partners with men in God’s design for creation. Those could be single women, young women, older women, widows, married women with small children, divorced women, black, white, or hispanic women—any woman. All women. Created to be instruments of God’s kingdom on earth, first and foremost. We were not created for Adam so much as for the job he had to do and could not do alone.

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It’s quite a wonderful thing that many of us enjoy that partnership as a spouse to someone we love like crazy. Modeling a joyful marriage partnership to our children is one of the best things we can do for them. One of the other best things? Model to them that our purpose and identity  come from Jesus alone—not one another.

Instead of a lie, how about we tell them some of these things?

–Tell our little girls that they are waiting for no one but God to give them a purpose in life.

–Tell our little boys that girls who know their purpose are the most fun to come alongside.

–Tell our little girls that needing someone else to define them will always leave them empty.

–Tell our little boys that it’s far better for a girl to want to be with them than to need to.

–Tell our little girls that if they don’t know they’re beloved, beautiful, strong, powerful, and accepted through Jesus they will never truly know it from someone else.

–Tell our little boys the same thing.

Tell them both that marriage and parenthood are beautiful and worthy of all kinds of sacrifice and effort.

But tell them that walking with the will of God is even better.

IMG_7582I’m sewing crystals on lace, in strings that catch the light of the lamp above my head. Alternating tiny beads, larger glass diamonds, and the occasional pearl. It’s my daughter’s wedding dress, and it must be just right.

These lace-and-bead concoctions are the sleeves, a kind of Roaring Twenties look that suits her tiny frame. But the skirt? Full-blown princess. She wants to feel like a princess on her big day, and to her, that means a full gathered skirt with petticoats. Adding an Elsa-style glittery cape as a train, some rather boho-chic silk, and a ’20s headpiece will finish off this creation of love.

It may sound like an unfortunate mash-up that wouldn’t work on any runway. But no, it’s coming together quite beautifully as the unique creation it is. I’m fusing styles, because this girl cannot be pinned down to one, and her styles are as variable and blowsy-beautiful as my cottage garden outside.

She will be stunning on her wedding day.

Lately, when I’m not sewing, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and studying about the church, and it occurs to me that she is like this dress in my lap.

. . . .

To continue reading, please join me today at The Glorious Table, a coming together of beautiful writing around the feast that is God’s life for us.

What the Bible Doesn’t Teach about Modesty

In honor of the Olympics (and futbol), and the current blog series on Lies We Tell Girls, a rerun. One of my favorites.

 

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Yikes, cover that thing up.

The only thing that bothers me more than bad grammar is bad theology.

I heard it again, one more time, on Christian talk radio. “Guys can’t help how they feel. Girls don’t realize what boys feel physically when exposed to their bodies. They need to take responsibility to keep their brothers from stumbling.”

It’s time for this idea to die. It’s been around, healthy and strong, for too long. It’s dangerous. It’s demeaning to both genders. And—it’s unbiblical.

I could approach this psychologically, sociologically, or logically. But let’s go at the question with the criteria that should always come first—biblically.

Four things the Bible does not teach about modesty—and one it does.

The Bible does not teach that the body is shameful.

Four years ago, we spent an afternoon on a beach in Barcelona. Aware that parts of the beach were “clothing optional,” we opted for the first crescent, the one deemed “safe for the whole family.” We learned, quickly, that apparently tops are optional everywhere. So our first exposure to cultural norms in Spain was a bit of a shock.

But you know what? I didn’t see a single man on that beach assaulting a woman because she was topless and therefore he couldn’t help himself. What I saw were families and friends enjoying a day at the beach together, completely oblivious to one another’s state of not-dress.

Beth 9.9.11 056Genesis says that the creation of humans was very good. God rejoiced in the forms he had created. Shame entering the world didn’t change that. In fact, the Bible tends to celebrate beautiful women and strong men—as well as strong women and beautiful men.

This isn’t to say that we don’t dishonor our bodies when we treat them shamefully. It’s to give a starting point from which to have the discussion. That start is, and must be, that God created the human body fearfully and wonderfully (Psalm 139). It is never to be shamed for its mere appearance.

The Bible does not teach that we can “blame the victim.”

I can’t find a single instance in the Bible where a sexual assault is implied to be the woman’s fault. Bathsheba (2 Sam 11), Tamar (2 Sam 13), Dinah (Gen 34)–all recorded as sins of the men involved, not women who “had it coming” by the way they behaved or dressed.

No one said Bathsheba should not have been bathing naked on her roof. No one admonished Tamar for going into her half-brother’s bedroom without forethought. No one blamed Dinah for wandering into an area where “foreign” men might harm her.

Scripture solidly places the responsibility where it belongs—on the perpetrator. They do not get a pass because the women involved were beautiful and they couldn’t help themselves, and the opportunity was right in front of them.

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It’s right there on the street. I can’t help myself. Must walk in and buy fudge . . .  Yeah, I don’t think so.

The Bible does not teach that we can blame others for our sin.

The New Testament follows suit, with Jesus warning that “everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5.28). Jesus doesn’t add, “unless she’s dressed revealingly” or “except when you feel like you can’t control yourself.” It is what it is—you choose to look with lust, you can’t blame the person you’re looking at. To imply otherwise is to strip from men the power to look away, to make a moral choice, to obediently honor others.

For no other sin do we offer this excuse. Try these alternatives. “Hey, you parked your brand new sports car in the driveway. You were just asking to have it stolen.” “The company leaves its books open for anyone to embezzle. I couldn’t help myself—I wanted money.”

No one would make such ridiculous statements. Yet that is exactly what we say when we tell girls, “Men can’t help how you make them feel when you dress immodestly.” No other sin we catalog gets a pass on personal responsibility. Only male lust. Yet we continue to perpetuate the lie that our girls have to cover up to save their brothers from themselves.

That is offensive to guys of good character and enabling to those of bad.

(And anyone who says girls can’t be just as visual hasn’t heard women watching the World Cup lately, trust me.)

We have more in common with fundamentalist Islam than with Jesus when we demand that women cover up so that men don’t sin. Jesus simply told the men—it’s in your power to look away. Do it. Honor what I created.

The Bible does not teach a dress code.

Yes, I would agree that the general message of Scripture is to cloth oneself with dignity. But those verses we always use as proof texts when preaching to girls? Let’s look at them again.

“Likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire” (1 Timothy 2.9).

“But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3.4).

In context, Paul and Peter are addressing the same thing, and it is not lack of coverage. It’s excess. Women who appear in church flaunting their wealth on their heads and necks. Ladies who felt the need to show everyone else how much they could afford to look good. The sin was pride—not immodestly.

The word “modestly” in these verses carries the meaning of “downcast eyes”–in other words, Paul is advocating humility and self-control. Funny, I hear plenty of teaching on how girls must cover themselves up to obey the Scripture, but I have yet to hear about how they should ditch the gold and pearls. Lots of folks want to expound on how tight a dress can be, but no one I’ve listened to recently has commented on the expensive designer label inside.

Yes, scripture warns against “playing the harlot.” It warns against seductive behavior. But this behavior is clearly one of attitude and intent, not dress. It is a warning for women who do try to use their sexual power to get what they want, certainly a valid warning for our day.

The terrible trend of our girls mimicking stage idols who sell their bodies for fame and profit has a host of consequences those idols don’t have to live with but our girls do. But the behavior described in Proverbs is that of words, looks, and actions, not of a woman walking down the street in a low cut shirt.

So what does the Bible teach about women’s dress?

The Bible teaches self (and mutual) respect.

IMG_4733Am I saying women should be free to wear (or not wear) whatever they wish? Rather, I’m saying women (and men) should be taught the truth about why they dress with care.

Girls should learn that their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, amazing creations of God, costly purchases bought by Christ for His purposes. They should learn to respect and love their bodies as the image of God.

And so should men. The treatment should be equal and no different.

When a girl understands and believes this, truly? She will dress in a way that self-respects. It’s a natural reaction. It’s the reaction of loving obedience, not shame. It’s the reaction God wants from us all.

Girls and Drama

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Life Motto–Keep the Drama on the Stage

I took another one of those personality tests yesterday. One of the things it told me was that my personality type cannot abide drama. It’s true. If you need attention or you’ll die, I am not your best bet for longevity.

If I watched reality TV shows, I would be the crazy woman screaming “Get a life!”at every single contestant who ever whined about all her UNBEARABLE EMOTIONAL STRESS while choosing to put all the things on national TV. 

A good listener when life is legit hard? I’m there for you. Someone to help you figure a way out of your hurt? I’m your girl. A shoulder to cry on when heartbreak is real, no matter how small? I’ve got two.

But little darlin, if you’re the reason for your own issues and you have no intention of owning it but want everyone else to hear? Sorry, going to voicemail.

What does this have to do with the current blog topic, the lies we tell girls?

Drama Is a Big Fat Lie

Because one of the lies we tell girls is that Emotions R Us. We are free, no encouraged, to be ruled by the way we feel because we are women, and women feel. 

Feelings are good. Necessary. Vital in a world that too often connects what is expedient to what is right. Bringing empathy into the game and tempering practicality with compassion  is a specialty we dare not live without.

But girls, we are not created to be drama queens. I don’t care if The Bachelor and all the Kardashians on the planet told you so. Here’s a shocker–they lied.

Drama Is Tempting

I know how hard it is. I failed at this as a parent. Spectacularly. I ranted and raved and assured my offspring that the world was colossally unfair when bad things happened to them. I blamed heaven and earth and everything in between. I pitched reality-TV-worthy fits when the other girls laughed at my kid’s outfit or the teacher didn’t believe she had turned in her paper. 

I probably did similar things for myself before becoming a parent, but not on that scale. Something about giving birth turns mild-mannered women into roller derby queens in our heads. We are ready to rumble.

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Don’t mess with this mama. Am I right?

 

You know what? All that drama didn’t make the world fair. It only made it way more confusing.

Standing against the lie of women as emotional train wrecks means teaching girls what they can let go, forgive, and learn from. It means forgiving and letting go ourselves. Yes, even when Katie McKateface tells our darling she’s not cool enough to sit with her on the field trip.

Let’s be honest–most of the things we get annoyed and offended over don’t matter. The sharp word in that email. The comment on Facebook we didn’t agree with. The guy who cut us off in the grocery line or the outfit you can’t believe that girl is wearing. Minor stuff when stacked up against, say, world hunger.

Other things are tougher. The coach who treats your daughter unfairly. The other girl who refuses to let her sit at the lunch table. The play director who picked her daughter to be Orphan Annie while yours gets the hard knock life of child #5 in the chorus.

These are harder, because they stir up the crusader for truth and justice in all of us. But pause a minute. Are they really things we want to teach our girls are worth the fight? Do we want to instill in them the belief that personal drama is their female forte? Do we want to cheapen their purpose so much that we refuse to point them toward the things that they should be getting their battle armor on for?

Here’s the thing. If we don’t let these things go—if we get hung up on the small injustices and the personal slights? We’re teaching girls that these are the battles that matter. Our culture already tells them that their emotions have to rule them. The media they see every day informs them that getting caught up in drama is what girls are all about.

Is it? Or can we give them a different narrative?

Girls have power. Let them unleash it on what matters.

What Does Matter?

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you?

To act justly

and to love mercy

and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6.8)

Girls are capable of caring about so much more. They don’t have to dwell on drama. No matter how much their culture assures them that they must be driven by their emotions, they should give vent to everything they feel, and their feelings are to be unquestioned, we can tell them a different story.

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Courageous girls fight for what matters, not what gets them mad. Courageous girls seek justice for those who can’t, not for whatever makes them feel life is unfair.

Courageous girls know their feelings are powerful, and so they reserve them for the holy things of justice, mercy, and humility.

Let’s teach our girls the good side of emotion. Let’s show them how to use their passions for hope and not harm.

It starts with hugging our babies a little tighter when the mean girls strike. Then resisting the urge to call their moms and raise hades. Looking our girl in the eye and telling her she has the love in Jesus to forgive. She has the identity in Jesus to know a chosen, beloved, carefully-created child can never be the awful things  the other girls say she is. She has the power in Jesus to go back and hold her head up.

She has the strength in Jesus to choose something important to put her energies toward –and to batter the gates of hell until she succeeds.

 

The First Lie We Tell Girls

IMG_0310In about five short minutes, I have legally and theoretically raised three daughters into adulthood. As Gretchen Rubin says, “The days are long, but the years are short.” They were toddlers with adorably intractable curls just a heartbeat ago.

Raising girls is something dear to my heart, both because its been my job for twenty-five years and because women and their lot in this world make me passionate. Sometimes passionately excited, sometimes passionately furious, but passionate.

You may be a parent of girls or not. You may be a parent of boys, or not a parent at all. Maybe a teacher or a youth leader or an aunt, uncle, grandparent, or neighbor. In any case, you almost certainly have an influence on girls and the way they see themselves in the world, or on the boys who see them and the way they do.

Raising Courageous Girls

So this summer series is going to focus on girls—how can we equip girls who are ready for what it takes to be a Christian woman in a messed up world? What messages are we sending them, intentionally or otherwise? What do they need to know and believe? How are we helping or hurting?

But—men and parents of boys/men—hang in there, please. There is a question for you. How can we raise boys who rightly value women in their lives?

Because we all kind of know from recent news that if men aren’t on the bandwagon of respect, we’ve got trouble my friends, right here in River City. (Are you too young for that reference? I hope not. Everyone should have a working knowledge of Broadway musicals.) Men knowing starts with boys being taught.

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Girls are told there are a lot of things they are supposed to be.

Be popular.

Be pretty.

Be smart.

Be sexy.

Be nice.

Be helpful.

Be sweet.

Be . . . whatever we think you need to be. “We” being TV, church, school, family, friends, Facebook, etc. With these messages in their heads, girls get their motivation mixed up. A lot.

They become the commodities we teach them they are. Trying to please whoever has the most currency in their lives, they become products, packaged for the consumer with the highest value bid.

If we want to unravel the lies we tell our girls, we have to start here. How have we lied to them about what they should be?

To unravel the lies, let’s go back to the original lie. The one told in the garden of Eden.

You are not enough the way you are. The way God made you is deficient. You need to grasp for something else. Anything else.

And so Eve grasped. Not because she was hungry for fruit. Because she was hungry for being more.

Women, being made in the image of God is so enough. it’s beyond comprehension enough. Yet still, we look around us for someone else to validate that we are being something more.

If we don’t even know what we’re supposed to be, how on earth should we expect someone else to? Why are we asking other people to validate who we are when we don’t have a clue? It’s like asking a stranger along the road directions for where we’re going and then having to admit we don’t really have a destination. Just give me directions—any directions.

And so the strangers create the persona they want us to be, and we conform, because we have never believed that the imago dei is enough.

As if we could ever be more than that.

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What is the image of God?

It is to be a co-creator, an imaginative force for goodness in the world.

It is to crave relationship—to know we can be more together than alone.

It is to know good when we see it and name it so.

It is to be a creator of order and light and hope.

It is to reconcile. Constantly. Everything. We have one job.

That’s the first lie. The lie that we have to be more than we already are—the image of God. Sometimes the image is marred, sometimes hidden, sometimes covered in layers of junk we wish we had never accumulated. But it is there—it cannot be taken away. And it is enough. Let’s start there.