Written By Daniel Ryan Day, USA
Daniel is married to his high school sweetheart, and dad to three. He’s the author of What’s Next: Your Dream Job, God’s Call and a Life That Sets You Free, and a podcaster at Our Daily Bread. He holds a Master’s Degree from Fuller Theological Seminary, and is an ordained minister.
It’s International Women’s Day. You are six years old, but I fear 16, 24, and 30 are much closer than I want to admit. I’m proud of you and love you, not because of what you’ve done but because of who you are—my girl. But be wary! The world is less friendly toward you and other women than it claims. I fear if our culture’s goals are achieved, you will no longer be valued for your uniqueness as a woman.
Today, men and women are elevating the heroic achievements of women, and others are bringing attention to the debate on gender roles and equality. Some will say we’ve made progress, and they will be right. Others will focus on how far we have yet to go, and they will be right too. There will be good ideas shared today, and there will be dangerous ideas. Here are some guiding principles that I’ve learned from experience, that could help you navigate today.
First, as the noise gets louder, spend more time in quiet listening for God.
Pray, read the Scriptures, talk with wise people, listen for God’s guidance, and follow where He leads. Be bold where God wants you to be bold. Be cautious when God warns you to be cautious. Break down glass ceilings of unfairness and walls of inequality when God guides you to battles worth fighting. But with equal energy, stay away from battles where God is quiet and be patient when God asks you to wait. Not all battles should be fought.
Second, limitations are freedom.
Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Stomachs get full. Bodies need sleep. You can only lift so much weight. There are only 24 hours in a day. Limitations are a gift that keep us from becoming too-tired, overworked, overfed, or focused on something that is beyond our ability or mission.
The poet in Psalm 127 points us to limitations when he writes, “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for [God] grants sleep to those he loves” (Psalm 127:2). This verse comes immediately after the Psalmist declares we need God’s help. The Bible is a story not about independence, but about dependence on a God who help us and invites us to rest when we need it. You can’t and shouldn’t do everything, and that’s really good news!
Third, you deserve respect.
I wish I could say that I’ve always treated women with the respect they deserve as daughters of God, but there have been moments where I haven’t. I’ve regurgitated lyrics to songs that describe a woman’s appearance but neglect to mention her name. I’ve unintentionally supported companies that advertise in ways that harm body image or use and abuse women to make products. There have been moments when I’ve acted disappointed with your mom as if she exists to serve me. I’m sorry for adding to the problem.
Here’s the deal. You, as a young woman, are not an object to be ogled or owned. You are a child of God (Galatians 4:5-7), and you deserve respect as His daughter.
Fourth, sameness is not equality.
Today, there will be quite a few messages that could be boiled down to one statement, “Men and women are basically the same.” No, we’re not, and we’re at our best when we understand and embrace our differences. Should women be treated equally? I hope they would be treated better. Not because they need a man’s help in order to have purpose, but because I think God wants men to honor women (Ephesians 5:22, 1 Peter 3:7).
I only want the best guys to get your attention. If you are to get married one day, I hope and pray you will end up with a husband who will both honor and protect you. Not because you need protecting—you’re tough! Your brothers know that better than anyone. But I want your future husband to treasure you, treat you special, and look out for your best interests.
Fifth, Instagram and Facebook are missing one important filter—reality.
People on social have problems too. Don’t be discouraged when your life doesn’t look like someone’s doctored photos. You are made in the image of God. Just like your mom crocheted that white scarf, so God knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139). God wired your brain and shaped your heart with as much energy and passion as that with which He designed your hair or colored your skin.
Your true identity as a beloved daughter of God is more than a newsfeed. And your purpose as a child of God is more meaningful than likes and comments. God and I agree that you’re at your best when you don’t worry about how you look, but step with confidence into the woman He created you to be.
Sixth, its healthy to depend on others.
God made us for community, and the Bible describes Christians as the hands, feet, and eyes of Christ. We need each other. We need different genders, personalities, and skills. It’s healthy to recognize when someone does something better than we do, and to lean into God’s wisdom and expertise. It’s also healthy to recognize what you can offer and bring the best version of yourself to those relationships. There’s strength in dependence, team work, and trust. Don’t try to do it all on your own. Depend on others and let community depend on you.
Seventh, follow your heart to the truth, and nowhere else.
Emotions are helpful, but rarely tell the whole story. It’s important to pay attention to desire, fear, anger, doubt, and happiness. When you feel emotions, take a moment to identify how you feel, and listen to what those emotions are saying. Once you recognize the emotion, and what the emotion is searching for, hand your feelings and questions to God in prayer. Ask God to help make sense of your emotions, and to point out where your emotions are misguided in light of His love, kindness, mercy, and trustworthiness.
One final note, my girl. I’m glad it’s International Women’s Day because it’s one more opportunity to emphasize how important and special you are. The world needs you to step with confidence into the woman God has created you to become, and to help other women—younger and older—become the women God has made them to become. Don’t settle for anything less. That’s what today should celebrate and bring attention to—you are a hand-crafted woman of God and God placed you into this world now, for a reason. Listen to God’s voice to discover that reason, and don’t let anyone tell you to become anything other than who God has made you to become.
-Your Loving Daddy