To my granddaughters

Grammy and I have been praying for you since before you were born. We are grateful that God brought you safely into our family and that you have flourished in the homes he gave you. These days we pray that God will bring you into his household and make you mighty in his kingdom. I also think a lot about what it will be like to grow up and become a woman in our nation. It appears to have some challenges that, while not new, have intensified in my lifetime. 

Our culture struggles to understand femininity. That struggle has gone on since the first woman become of the mother of us all. Today, the same society that acknowledges the equality of women as citizens, employees and leaders will also objectify and demean women in popular culture. Women even do this to themselves as they confuse the liberty to do anything at all with true freedom. A discussion today involves overturning laws and customs regarding modesty in public, and even calls for the exaltation of self-destructive behaviors and humiliating vocations. It is true that “absolute” freedom includes the right to destroy yourself, but a culture that blesses such behavior is no friend to anyone. Follow the examples of your mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers. They are dignified and accomplished ladies who have negotiated their own times wisely. They learned before you met them that liberty is submitting to the right things and people and God rather than doing any wicked thing you imagine.

Part of femininity is that you will be physically smaller than most men you meet. They can loom over you, even pick you up when they are young and strong. That leads some men you meet to treat you as someone less—less smart, less important, less worthy of courtesy—than themselves. Men will sometimes make their physical advantages too much a part of your relationship, even as they may find your physical beauty more interesting than anything else you are. Enjoy being a girl, and being pretty, but avoid such loutish men. Be no one’s “arm candy” and trust no one who separates your humanity from your femininity. 

Love is also a complicated thing in our world. You are blessed to witness daily a model of unselfish love in your parents. While they talk about “loving” a certain food or article of clothing, you already know that it means something different, lesser, than their love for you. You also see their love for one another—giving, respectful, affectionate, joyful. Much that we call love across our culture is none of those things. It is better described as desire or even greed. Whether in a friendship, a marriage or a relationship between a dad and a daughter, love is not the commerce between a giver and a taker. It is the happy connection between two givers. Settle for nothing less. Knowing your moms and dads will prepare you to understand the perfect gift of love between your heavenly father and you, his beloved daughters. Others will say “love” to you or use love as an inducement to change your convictions to suit their agendas. You are equipped already to recognize the counterfeit because you have experienced the real thing. Be brave enough to walk away. Walk away from people, a career, marketing, entertainment, churches—anything really—that would divert you from true love and the true Word behind it. 

I pray that God will call each of you to follow him. When he does, he will call you to serve him first above all. That means you have a mission from the God who has revealed himself through Scripture. Nothing else your family or culture can call out for you to do can overrule this primary calling from God. Wherever you go, you have a message and a source of authority more sure than what you feel or want, or what anyone else wants. You may need to say no to opportunities and people you find very appealing, and which in other circumstances are just fine, if they conflict with your call from God. 

At the same time, God will not mystically call you to do something that is contrary to his revelation in Scripture. You are not going to be called by God to pastor a church, for example. When God has said “this” or “not this” the deliberation is over. I’m only saying that you have a higher calling on your life than the unrepentant can understand. Don’t compromise it for things that won’t last. 

In 2 Timothy 1:5, Paul tells the young pastor to remember the faith, the examples of his mother and grandmother. That’s what I’m saying to you—stick to the things you’ve already come to know as true, as modeled by those who have loved you. We’re here to remind you and hopefully to model continued obedience to the Lord who made us a family. When we fail in that, you mostly know enough to tell that we are wrong. There’s a lesson in that as well. 

We love you and very much look forward to watching you grow and learn for the years the Lord grants us together. The work is the Lord’s and we are so happy to be part of it. 

Editor’s note: We are blessed with four granddaughters, 9 (and a half!), 3, and 16 months (X2). 

Gary Ledbetter
Southern Baptist Texan
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