As the mother of three young daughters, it often dawns on me that one day soon they will be heading out the door with keys in hand.
Here are ten things I want to tell them...to tell all teenage girls.
1. Read. I hereby grant you permission to stay up past your bedtime with a book. I recommend that you make good use of the library, that you invest in an electronic reading device, and that you fill your room with books.
2. Exercise. Not because it will make you skinny, but because it will make you strong. Try track and field because running is an easy sport to continue through almost every season of life. Biking and swimming are other good options.
3. Travel. Though I want to always hold you close, I promise to let you go. See the world and hold it in your heart. Go to places that make you cry - because of beauty, because of pain.
4. Serve. If you ever start to feel blue. If you feel like your world is spinning out of control. If you wonder if anyone really, truly understands you. Roll up your sleeves and cook a meal for a family with a sick child. Rock a baby at an orphanage. Hold an elderly person's hand. Write a letter to a teacher you inspires you.
5. Start a business. So what if you're only 15. Create and sell a product. Fail, stumble, try again. What a gift it will be when you are older and know the secrets of entrepreneurship. Someday, when you have babies underfoot and you are still able to bring in an income, this will make sense.
6. Go to college. Not because it's the thing to do. Not because you're worried about getting a "good job." But because you want to. Because education is available to you and can transform your life. If you can swing it, go to an Ivy League. If not, excel where you are. The important thing is to keep learning - in academia or not.
7. Keep in mind that, "Good friends are hard to find." Somebody once said that, "you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." Look for people who value the good, speak out against the bad, laugh frequently (but never at other people), work hard, and love Jesus. When you find those friends, serve, travel, and start businesses together.
8. Save your money - or give it away. Avoid shopping malls - with their heavy perfumes, their intoxicating lies about body image and happiness, and all of the signs that exist to get you to buy-buy-buy. Not to mention the boys that will try to pick up on you. The attention will make your heart soar, but it's not what you want.
9. Hold out for true love. Find a man that treasures you, that listens to you, that leads by example, that lets you lead too. You probably won't find him at a party or a movie theater or a club (maybe, but probably not). He'll be out on a hike or teaching a kids camp or building houses in Mexico. So concentrate on doing things that are good for your body, mind, and heart. Help other people. And don't hang pictures of boy bands and celebrities on your walls.
10. Remember who you are in Christ. Beautiful. Beloved. Wonderfully made for a purpose. You belong to Him.
* This post was inspired by Kate Conner.