As the oldest child in my family, I was constantly on the hunt for older friends and mentors to invite into my life and adopt as my own. By the time I graduated from high school, I had more “big sisters,” “big brothers,” “aunts,” and “uncles” than a girl could ever dream of. Looking back I can tell you it made all the difference in me knowing I was loved and lovable and in developing my understanding of who I wanted to become.
With my own experience as proof, I firmly believe that we have a responsibility as women to reach out to the next generation of women, helping them to form a vision, feel worthy as people, and pursue wholeness. Here are some ways to start investing in the younger women in our lives…
Creating a Vision
While I certainly enjoyed all aspects of these friendships and mentor relationships, perhaps the most precious gift these men and women gave me was vision. I had countless examples of women I wanted to emulate and models for a healthy marriage, giving me the courage to be myself and stick to my morals and values. In a culture where woman’s identity is ill-defined, it is crucial for us as women to reach out and consistently engage in young girl’s lives to be an example and help them form a new vision—a vision that says it is possible to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself and have healthy relationships with others.
Sending a Message of Worth
Investing in a young girl’s life sends a strong message that she is worthy and valuable. Young girls not only need to know that they are valued, but also why they are valued—they need to know they are valued for who they are, not what they do or what they look like. In their book, “Sticky Faith,” Dr. Kara Powell and Dr. Chap Clark name adult relationships as one of the leading contributing factors to young adults maintaining their faith and sense of self. Young girls are likely to maintain their morals and beliefs when they feel secure in who they are and know what truly makes them valuable. We all long to know that we matter and as women we have the opportunity to communicate this message loud and clear by spending our time, sharing our wisdom, and listening to the hearts of these young women.
An Example of Wholeness…Not Perfection!
We cannot turn on the TV or flip through a fashion magazine without being bombarded with images of “perfection.” Additionally, social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and blogs often fail to provide a balanced picture of people’s lives, which can often leave us feeling inadequate and pressured. As women, we have an opportunity to present a picture of wholeness rather than perfection by owning our imperfections rather than trying to hide them or cover them up. While we are wise to always strive to be kind and generous toward others and do our best in pursuing our life goals, we will inevitably make mistakes and it is how we handle these mistakes that make all the difference. Being an example of owning our mistakes and offering grace to ourselves and others is far more impactful example than perfection can ever be.
As we grow into our own lives, it is important to never forget to look over our shoulder and reach back to the next generation of women. We have a tremendous opportunity to be a part of shaping a young woman’s identity and their sense of empowerment—how could we possibly say “no” to that challenge?
Image via Nicole Franzen