Now More Than Ever, Teenage Girls Need to Know the True Source of Love and Dignity
SARAH HEATON — At the heart of every teenage girl is the question “Who am I?” The world is eager to answer the question for her: she can be anything she wants to be. She can choose not just the sports she plays, but her passions, hobbies and diversions. She can also choose her gender, her sexual preferences and even her own truth.
Yet, at the same time, if she wants to be accepted, if she want to have friends, she better choose the things that will make her fit the right mold. Flip through any magazine aimed at teenage girls and you’ll see that the mold is a skinny, sexy, smart, name-brand-wearing, Frappuccino- drinking, social media starlet with boys chasing after her.
What happens if they don’t fit that mold? They shrink, squeeze and cram to try to make themselves fit. In a recent study, 50% of teenage girls use unhealthy weight control measures such as skipping meals, taking diet pills, and smoking more cigarettes to lose or control their weight.
On the other hand, what happens if they do fit the mold, but find that they still aren’t happy? If the world’s definition of happiness doesn’t deliver, then escaping life can seem like the only alternative. Which may be why, as of 2009, suicide is the third leading cause of death for teenagers.
The answer the world gives is not satisfying. It does not answer the question at the heart of every teenage girl. If the world cannot answer her question, where is a girl supposed to turn?
To truly find the answer to this question, we have to go back to the beginning: we have to ask our Creator. In Genesis 1:26 we learn that “God created mankind in His image; in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.” We were created as male and female, distinct in nature and equal in dignity. We are created for love, true love offered by the Author of Love, not the author of the latest article in Cosmopolitan. These truths, so counter to what the world teaches, are the answers girls need to hear.
If teenage girls know they are created by love, for love, then they realize they are not objects to be used. If they know they are created not just with a feminine body, but also with a feminine soul, then they understand that their physical capacity for another and their desire to love another are not accidental byproducts of biology. If they encounter the Person who created them, they understand that He has a plan for their lives, that they were created here and now with their unique gifts and passions to bring love to the world, to become the very agents for bringing love to the world.
Happily, there are more and more ministries springing up to bring teenage girls this message. I am part of one such ministry, Endow (Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women). We’re a non-profit based in Denver, CO that offers girls an opportunity to encounter the truth about their dignity. Through Endow‘s True Beauty Revealed study guide and retreat girls come to understand that they have dignity that is objective, inherent, and inalienable. They recognize that they do not have to fit the mold in order to matter. Young girls will find true freedom in becoming the women that God has created them to be.
One young woman who attended a True Beauty Revealed retreat in Livonia, Michigan remarked,
Before I came on this retreat I had no hope. I believed that I would be a statistic who was pregnant before she was 16 and didn’t get a GED until she was 24. But, I know now that there is so much more out there for me. I forgive everything bad that happened to me and I want to understand Jesus’ love in a deeper way. My dignity demands that I live a better life.
When young women understand the source of their dignity and they learn how to live in such a way as to invite others to respect their dignity, they don’t have to worry about what the world says. They build friendships that help them grow, they have healthy relationships with boys who know they are not objects to be used, and they fall deeper in love with the God who created them to love and to be loved.
Sarah Heaton, a native of Colorado, is the Director of Programs for Endow (Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women). To learn more about dignity, or to find out how to bring the Endow program to teenagers in your area, check out the website: www.endowgroups.org.