Sweet moms, grab your hubby, today’s Mentor Mom post is a Mentor Dad. My heart is full to bursting as I remember this man and the influence he had in my life. He and his wife were there when I decided to follow Jesus and there to guide me in my first explorations of the Bible. He’s cheered for me every step of the way. Like me, he has two daughters, not much older than mine and today he is sharing his father’s heart with us. If distance didn’t prevent it, I would send my girls to Bible Studies, crazy Young Life meetings and school lunches with this man who loves teenagers and God so wholeheartedly. I am so excited for you to meet Scott.
While driving my daughters to high school this morning, it happened.
I should have been ready for this as I have had this conversation so many times before. You see for nearly 30 years I been working with kids through a ministry called Young Life, a Christian organization that reaches out to high school and middle school students. I’ve watched first hand as many of my high schools friends asked their dates to homecoming, I’ve offered advice, I’ve chaperoned their dances and I’ve been hopeful that kids wouldn’t be hurt. Now my daughters were going to homecoming.
No one wants to see those they care about get hurt and those thoughts flashed through my mind as my daughters (one is a sophomore and the other is a freshman) informed me that they thought that they were going to the dance this year. I want them to experience all the good things of life, but I don’t want them to be hurt.
Over the years of being a ministry leader and a father, I’ve seen the challenges that young women face and I continue to be saddened by it. At a younger and younger age, they are being shaped by the world. From the companies that provide clothing and the magazines that tell them what to wear, to the music they listen to and media’s verdicts on the shape of their bodies, when did we allow their value to be determined by someone other their than their Creator? When did we quit whispering in their ears that they are lovely not because of what they do or what they wear, but because of who they are?
I whisper in their ears literally as often as possible, while snuggling on the couch or going for a walk. I pray with them so that they hear my heart and I am brutally honest with them even at the expense of them not always liking me. My love for them is unconditional–love I learned from Jesus who loves me in spite of myself. They have such tender spirits, and I want the loudest voice that speaks into that to be God Himself. Even though they are in high school, my favorite part of the day remains tucking them in at night, telling them how proud they make me and reminding them that they are special. We should never get too old for that.
In Jeremiah 29:11 (The Message) it says, “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”
And that hope is what I long to remind them of. I want them to hear time and time again that I love them and that their value comes not in what they wear or who they date, but who they are, who they choose to be. Every day they are making decisions that begin to define who they are and I remind them of this value every day at breakfast when they struggle with how they look, when they come and are feeling alone and when they go to bed at night wondering what tomorrow brings. And what I tell them is that just like the day before, God is there, He is the one who can be trusted and somehow he loves them more than I ever could.
I still chaperone dances for kids in the ministry, although this dance will be one I will not be attending (I’ve been warned), so what will I be doing? Being an anxious parent pops into my head, but then, I choose to remind my daughters, before and after and as often as they will listen and sometimes when they won’t, that I love them, I love them, (insert pause here) I love them. That their value comes not in whom they bring to the dance or what they wear or how well they can dance, but their value is shown in the love of Christ. I remind them of this daily as they come to the breakfast table, when they come home from school. I simply tell them that they are important to God. My God, their God, has a plan for them and they can trust in that even more than me…even more than me. I can live with that.