Recently, I heard about a children's sermon where the speaker told boys they should be strong and girls that they should be pretty. My toes kind of curled. I assume the speaker was trying to convey a sense of manhood and womanhood in contrast to some things going on in our culture. But, the vision of girls being pretty and boys strong is not the blessing I was trying to give my daughters.
Our culture uses beauty to sell. Being pretty helps you succeed, makes everybody like you, and gets you what you want according to our world and its marketers. There is nothing wrong with trying to look nice, certainly preferred to the alternative! But when girls see "pretty" as their future it leads to exploitation, insecurity, comparisons, fears, eating disorders, and weakness. Making pretty a vision for girls does not build bravehearts who will have the courage to be and become whom God intends.
I reread Proverbs 31:10-31, the picture of "an excellent wife" whose "worth is far above jewels." After reading how she works, buys and sells, raises crops, helps the poor, and cares for her family, I began to wonder what the husband does! Her children "rise up and bless her" and her husband says, "Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all."
The only hint that being pretty is a vision for her is the comment about the nice clothes she makes for herself. Otherwise the writer says that "charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised."
The excellent wife "girds herself with strength and makes her arms strong." "Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future." She "is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household are clothed with scarlet." She is a braveheart, entering realms where others fear, with strength and courage. She is praised and set up as an example of an excellent wife.
What vision do we have for our daughters? What words do we say to them about their future? What do we applaud in their lives, outer beauty or strength and dignity? What are commercials, friends, and even trusted church leaders saying to them about whom they should be and become?
The blessing we give our daughters is powerful in a culture that wants to make them something less than God does. Our culture wants pretty to be its standard as it exploits and weakens girls. Or the culture wants to make them independent and dominant. Both extremes miss the blessing of a woman who loves God and people, and courageously lives out her life as she follows God's lead and uses the gifts He has given her.
May you and I pick the right words and build our braveheart daughters by giving them a blessing in the directions that God honors.