There are roughly half a million videos that have been uploaded on YouTube by kids inviting others online to validate their looks by deciding if they are ‘pretty or ugly.’” “[G]irls as young as nine are getting thousands, in some cases tens of thousands, of people to weigh in on their appearance.1
I remember the day that Anna found her hand. It was just another day in the life of an infant with hands and feet flailing around. Then, something clicked when she realized she could make that hand, her hand, move. Watching Anna caused me to stop and think about how she has not always been her own person. There was a time when she was a part of her mother and, for a while, their bodies were one. When they were separated at birth (and perhaps before), Anna was on a journey to be her own person. Today a hand. Tomorrow a foot. At some point a fashion sense (three or four years old). Eventually a whole, independent person.
There are many ways that this happens and as many books on it as you care to read. But there is one way that is often overlooked, and it is this. The father calls his children into personhood. If the father’s voice is silent or unheard, girls will seek other affirming voices. Further, since another does not have the authority of the father, it will only serve as a temporary substitute, a place marker, for the father’s voice. This being the case, she will move to yet another to hear their voice. Since another cannot truly affirm, the need for this serial affirmation will grow until she is listening to “tens of thousands” of others in places like YouTube, or worse.
There are two areas of calling. One is active. I actively say, “you are my daughter,” “I couldn’t be more pleased with you,” “I can see how you feel that way even though I may not agree with the conclusion you reached.,” “You are the right size with the right body at the right time in your life,” and so forth. How about when she is not longer a girl? Is it not for the father to call his daughter into authentic womanhood?
The other area of calling is in defense. There always seem to be people who have developed a habit of the “too.” Anna you are “too” tall or “too” skinny or growing “too” fast. If I am present and that goes unanswered, I am agreeing with them by my silence. She is not “too” anything. At whatever season of her life she is, she should be affirmed by her father in it.
Why not call your daughter who you God wants her to be? It might silence the calling of 10,000 others that you might not want her to hear.
[read more=”Dig Deeper” less=”Not So Deep”]
The God of Abraham is the God of this age, he spoke the world into creation, he spoke the heavens into creation, he is the only being whose word brought matter forth from nothing. In the same way, he calls boys into authentic manhood and girls into authentic womanhood. Although no father is god and no father is perfect, it is the father’s voice that his children can hear. God calls fathers to speak.
“As we know, it is important to have fathers who function as good, loving fathers, not only because they are the ones who on the natural plane affirm us as persons, but also because they are the ones who symbolize God the Father to us.” “It is the masculine voice we are listening for at puberty and thereafter, that time when we are separating our sexual and personal identities from that of our mothers.” In the absence of a present and affirming father “we can rest assured that there is available to us the healing needed to clear up any gender an personal identity confusion and inferiority feelings. This is sure and absolute, for in the Presence of God the Father, when we learn to listen to and obey Him, we are affirmed as real men, real women, real persons. Solidity of being is imparted.”2
Consider, by way of illustration, Simon Bar-Jonah. Mat 16:17 When Jesus meets Simon for the first time, He says, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called [Peter]” (which is translated stone). John 1:42 Note that Christ did not substitute the old name Simon for the new name Peter. Rather, He often referred to him as Simon Peter. Further, Jesus did not name him stone to represent his present character. Quite the contrary, Simon was often the first to waiver. Mark 14. He was less than solid, stone-like.
At their first meeting, Jesus called the man not by the name he was when they met, Simon, but by the name he would become at their parting, Peter. As Jesus would speak to Peter, he would use the name Simon almost to admonish him that he was not acting like a stone or to warn that he would not act like a stone. At their last meeting, “… Jesus met them on the shore , where He had prepared breakfast for them.”
The main purpose of the breakfast meeting seemed to be the restoration of Peter (who, of course, had sinned egregiously by denying Christ with curses on the night the Lord was betrayed). Three times Jesus addressed him as Simon and asked, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” John 21:15. Three times, Peter affirmed his love.
That was the last time Jesus ever had to call him Simon. A few weeks later, on Pentecost, Peter and the rest of the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit. It was Peter, the Rock, who stood up and preached that day.”3
Then if Christ had the authority to call Simon out of the old man into the new man Peter, do we, as disciples of Christ not have the authority to call our girls into authentic womanhood? And if we don’t call them, who, in our silence, is calling them instead? Have we abandoned our authority to anonymous voices on the internet? A boss at a part-time job? A belittling bully?
Consider it in the negative. If everyday when my daughter woke up the very first thing that she heard from me was “good morning you sure aren’t very pretty this morning, you sure seem a little overweight this morning, you‘re really getting too tall, I think we’re going to go see the doctor about that” and lets say that I repeated those comments at least every morning and every opportunity that came along, I took the opportunity to compare her to actresses on tv and “wow why can’t you look as good as she does?” Or cover photos of magazines “wow look at, look at the hair of the girl of that cover magazine, why can’t you look like that?” I don’t think anybody would argue with me that if I gave my daughter that sort of talk, that sort of calling everyday from birth until a time she moved out of my home that the talk my talk alone would have an obvious impact on her life.
Now those comparisons are there already just because of the culture we live in. Everywhere you look there’s someone trying to be what’s not or everywhere you look there’s someone trying to project an image of perfection. At a minimum most try to project an image of something that’s a little bit better than it really is. This isn’t just true with body shapes or body types. It rings true with cheeseburgers. I keep going to the burger joint trying to get a cheeseburger that I saw on a billboard and it just isn’t there. The truth is the hamburger on the billboard is not real and its projected to be a little bit better than it really is.
Incidentally, what impact does it have on my daughter if I don’t outright compare her to the girl on the front of the magazine but I let my eyes linger on the magazine. Daughters (and sons) notice where our true attention is focused. If I am fixated on imaginary images of women in magazines, the internet or elsewhere, how can she ever measure up?
These comparisons are in every form of external media that we are exposed to. It is the father’s voice that responds to the culture around us and to those others that have a voice with a not so positive message. More often than not this calling happens during the day to day doldrums of living. It is the father’s voice that says please be helpful with this thing, thank you for doing what I asked you to do when I asked you to do it — I know you were frightened and I was so pleased when you did that anyway. It is the father’s voice that from time to time says “hey you made my day better because you were so cheerful” in response to someone saying “she’s growing too fast”, it’s the father’s voice that says “No, God placed her in this season and she’s the perfect height for this season”.
Now the God of Abraham is the creator and he ultimately calls the created, even daughters, into their authentic self. He, however, has chosen to make fathers His instrument for the calling out of their children.4[/read]
- Bennett, Rich, “Undoing the Ugliness of POU Videos,” Dad MattersTM, January 13, 2014, http://community.focusonthefamily.com/b/dad-matters/archive/2014/01/13/undoing-the-ugliness-of-pou-videos.aspx ↩
- Payne, Leanne, The Healing Presence. Curing the Soul Through Union With Christ. Additional resource: “I recently heard what was quoted as an old saying: ‘A man is not a man until his father tells him he is a man.'” Broken Image, Page 97. That axiom holds in a nutshell what I have certainly seen to be a law at work between fathers and sons. Payne, Leanne, Real Presence. ↩
- MacArthur, John, Twelve Ordinary Men, Pps 42-43. ↩
- Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright© 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation may terminate this permission at any time.
©2014 All rights reserved (excluding cited sources) Brandon Blankenship Alabama Birmingham Hoover Pelham ↩