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Just after Thanksgiving, my awesome nephew, Tyson Shelley, tagged me in an Instagram post where he was asking for input on a certain topic from several good women in his life.
He and his wife have 3 beautiful young daughters and they’ve decided to have a theme for the coming year for their girls of “Faith – Courage – Strength – Empowerment.”
He wanted to know what experiences, events, books, hobbies, lessons, activities, etc, stood out from our childhood as something that promoted faith, courage, strength, or helped us feel empowered.
As soon as I read his post my mind started spinning with things I could tell him, and after I while I realized that there was no way I could fit my thoughts into an Instagram post, so I decided to make it a blog post instead.
As usual, when I think of questions like this, “How do you help girls gain faith, courage, strength, and power,” my heart and soul immediately turns to the core of things.
My mind didn’t automatically go to activities, hobbies, books, etc, which is really what he was asking for.
But I have such strong feelings about things like this, and to me, these kinds of things (empowerment) can’t really be effectively taught to a child without certain fundamental truths underpinning them.
So, Tyson, I realize I am preaching to the choir here, for you and your sweet wife are stellar examples of these foundational truths. But I’ll share these thoughts in case they might be helpful reminders, and in case they might help others as well.
How it’s done all-too-commonly in the world
Many women/girls in our world today are clamoring for empowerment, etc, (sometimes more akin to equal rights.) But unfortunately, many are going about it the wrong way.
Many put themselves above others, or count their best successes when they come at the expense of others.
Many feel that ‘accomplishment’ will satisfy their craving while their soul remains unfilled.
I could go on and on about these kinds of things, but my point really boils down to this:
When talking about empowering girls, there’s a right way and a wong way to go about it.
I realize that there definitely are discrepancies in the world about how girls are treated and viewed, as well as how women are treated and viewed.
I feel strongly that if these fundamental truths that I’m going to talk about are taught, held to, and upheld above many worldly trends, we would see a tremendous growth of girls who become TRULY strong and empowered.
So while this post doesn’t touch on specific activities, books, hobbies, etc, I want to share two vital, foundational principles that are critical to being in place so that any activity, book, or hobby designed for empowerment can be truly beneficial.
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#1 – Teach your girls to go to The Source of empowerment
And yes, I am most unabashedly speaking of The Source, our Eternal Father in Heaven.
When girls (and boys for that matter) are taught that they have a Father in Heaven who loves and adores them completely, always, forever, without fail or variance – this is empowering.
When they actually accept the idea that their Father in Heaven does indeed know them, perfectly, and really and truly wants what’s best for them and what will make them the happiest in this life – this is empowering.
And when these girls begin to act on that knowledge, by praying to Him daily and reading his word – this is empowering.
And when they begin to find for themselves that God really does hear and answer them – that he does indeed teach them and show them the way – and that they really can go to him about anything and everything – and that he does lift, support, and strengthen them – through everything – this is empowering.
Without a doubt, and absolutely unequivocally, I state that this is THE #1 thing our children need and that it is the most important and foundational element that will truly strengthen and empower them. Period.
How do I know? Because I can tell you that this is absolutely true in my life. I KNOW that God is ALWAYS near me. ALWAYS loving me. ALWAYS supporting me, strengthening me, teaching me, guiding me, and helping me in ALL that I do.
He and my Savior, Jesus Christ, are my rock. They are my foundation. I stand strong and empowered because of them. I know who I am because of them. I know where I’m going because of them.
This, my friends, is absolutely the most important thing we can teach our children.
Without this, life is really, really hard. We can feel lost and directionless. We can work to fill the void but keep coming up empty. We can climb our ladder of personal success and realize later that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall.
Teach your girls to go to The Source. Help them gain a powerful testimony of these truths.
Share God’s word with them every day.
Shine your light and love on them every day.
Be a person who comes to know these things for yourself so that your life exemplifies this strength.
This is what the world needs.
Can you imagine what the world would be like if every child knew who they were? If they had a personal relationship with their Heavenly Father?
I realize the world today is very much not like this.
My friends, we have a lot of work to do.
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#2 – Remember that to be truly empowered DOES NOT mean disempowering someone else.
I see and hear it all too often – “Girl power” being supported and encouraged while simultaneously bashing boys and men.
As if for girls to be strong, they have to be stronger than boys.
As if for women to be strong, they have to be stronger than men.
As if we girls can do it all and don’t need men.
Ladies, this is a dangerous path to follow.
What if we imagined a world where girls and women were strong, courageous, and powerful – AND – where the boys and men were also strong, courageous, and powerful.
I believe our world would be at its best when women are truly femininely strong, and men are truly masculinely strong.
Now, this whole topic of femininity/masculinity can be a whole ‘nother topic, but let’s get back to the main point here: In order for girls to succeed, it shouldn’t come at the expense of boys. Or other girls for that matter.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for competitive sports and other competitions and even card games where we can work our tail off to be the best we can be. And beat someone else. And often the success of these types of experiences come because we are working to be better than someone else. That’s all fine and good.
But what I’m talking about here is the perpetuation of the “girl power” idea where girls can do anything boys can do, and better. My question is, “Why does the power of one have to come at the lessening of another’s power?”
What if we removed this whole dominance idea, and just focused truly on who we are in the first place (see #1) and sought to know why we’re here and what our potential is in this life?
What if we encouraged girls to be righteously strong AND we encouraged boys to be righteously strong?
What would it do to our girls and boys if we taught them to love and respect each other? And appreciate and value each other’s differences?
This whole “girl power” thing seems to come from a feeling of lack in the first place. Why do we feel a need to fight to gain something we already have?
We are children of an eternal, loving, perfect Father in Heaven. Our worth is infinite. Our value is already set. Inestimable. Unchangeable. Infinite.
The truth is, there has been so much brainwashing going on in our world (and the author is the devil himself) that has made people believe that there is lack – that one gender is better/worse than the other – that we don’t need each other – that our worth comes from dominance, etc. These things are nothing but lies.
I can hear it now, “But Myra! The world IS like this! Men DO dominate and we women must fight to gain our place in the world…!”
Certainly in some countries/cultures/societies yes, that is the case.
But I’m talking to moms and dads who have daughters in their home. I’m talking to grandparents, aunts/uncles, sisters/brothers, and friends who have influence in the lives of girls.
What I’m suggesting is this: This pattern of aggressiveness and pulling someone down so we can rise up may not be the best way.
What would our world be like if girls were taught and nurtured in fundamental truths (see #1) and learned to base their worth upon these truths?
Just imagine – a girl wouldn’t feel like she had to fight for her place. She would simply already KNOW her place. She would already KNOW of her strength and her power. And her actions would follow this knowledge and help her produce a wonderful, strong, and powerful life.
So let’s come back to point #2 – Remember that to be truly empowered does not mean disempowering someone else. Or looking down on them. Or dismissing their value.
I can be strong and you can be strong.
I am strong and you are strong.
Can you imagine what our world would be like if everyone had this view? Yes, we are pretty far from it.
My friends, we have a lot of work to do.
We can start in our own homes and within our own circle of influence.
We can start with ourselves. How is your testimony? How is your relationship with your Heavenly Father? How do you see yourself in the grand scheme of things? How do you feel about womanhood? How do you view men? How do you view this whole empowerment thing?
Let’s get it straight in our heads.
Let’s get it straight in our hearts.
The world needs this kind of healing and proper direction.
I promise you, that as you instill these two fundamental principles in your own life, and work to help instill them in the lives of the girls in your circle of influence, you will see powerful results.
And this, my friends, is a beautiful sight to behold.