Welcome my new friend, blogger and author, Julie Presley! We “bumped” into each other in cyberland, introduced by a mutual friend, and I couldn’t be more grateful. She is the author of the Christian romance novel, Stones of Remembrance and Nor Forsake, which I have read, devoured and loved. Her heart is for women to experience freedom in Christ-centered romance but the biggest piece of her heart is dedicated to her two sons, as you will see as you read her words. Thank you, Julie, for sharing with us here at EPFH. You can find more of Julie’s writings at JuliePresley.com. Subscribe to her mailing list and keep up with news about her upcoming novel.)
(This post was originally posted on JuliePresley.com and offered to EPFH with full permission.)
For as long as I can remember I have been praying for my kids; I begged for their existence, for their health and happiness. It was my life-long dream to become a mother and when it finally happened I was changed forever. I can’t remember exactly when you popped into my head, but I realized that someday these boys were going to grow up and marry young women, so I figured I should probably start praying for you too. This is a practice that has been past down from my own mother and my mother-in-law, in fact my engagement ring is a symbol of the prayers of my mother-in-law and is one of my most cherished possessions. So before I say anything else I want you to know that I pray for you, for your heart, your happiness, your purity, and your family, as often as you come to my mind, which is more and more as these boys keep growing, each inch reminding me that they’re growing closer to meeting you every day.
I’ve done the best I can do at mothering these kids, and I promise I will continue to. The only thing I really need to apologize to you for is that I have not taught them to put the seat down. I’m sorry, It just doesn’t bug me, and I’m the minority in this house. But they use their manors, they listen and obey (mostly — they’re still young), they are learning how to clean the house properly (you are SO welcome), and when they ask why I am making them do their chores, I tell them it’s because I want them to support you, and to help you. They’re also sweet, encouraging and caring. They have a huge capacity to love, and I pray with all my heart that they will love you well when the time comes.
I only have boys, but I remember all too well what it’s like to be a middle-school-aged girl: the tumultuous friendship roller-coaster, the strange feeling in your stomach when a certain boy smiles at you, the annoying way your body keeps changing and seemingly betraying you. Then there’s high-school: It can be the best or the worst time of your life. For me it was the worst (I pray it’s not the same for you). Angst, heart break, confusion, uncertainty, feelings, oh the feelings. I’m so glad that I didn’t grow up in an age where social media gave me not just an outlet to vent but also a very inaccurate way to gauge my value. Ask any of your friends’ moms and they’ll tell you how glad they are that Facebook wasn’t around when we were in high school. The things we would have posted, the things we see you and your friends posting.
Sweetheart, I have to tell you that my heart is breaking for your generation and this perfect storm of teenage emotions and social media. From selfies to witty status updates, it seems that everything we think or do is now up for display because we have willingly put it there, desperate for the response and validation from our people; everything is judged and marked appropriately. I see the selfies of such young girls, girls who have no idea how beautiful they truly are, lips plumped and “ducked”, eyes cast to the side as if they don’t know the picture is being taken. Seductive glances “thrown” at the camera as if not posed and captured thirty times in order to get just the right look (anyone who’s ever posted a selfie knows what I’m talking about). And the “likes” and “hearts” pour in, boosting a false sense of self-esteem in precious and vulnerable hearts.
Social media isn’t to blame, but it has perpetuated problems that were birthed in hearts from early childhood on. At this point in time I don’t know how you are growing up, I don’t know who has permission to break your heart or say damaging words, but I know these triggers exist because even the most well-brought-up people in the world heard hurtful words that stayed with them and shaped the ways they carried themselves, the ways they saw themselves. Perhaps without even realizing it, someone spoke words or performed actions that told you that you were less than. Less than everything that you truly are. Somewhere in your heart of hearts, you grabbed on to a lie about your value and now what we see online is the result. That innocent smile begging for approval, for attention, for likes. Click the heart one more time. Tell me I’m beautiful again. Can you hear those words enough? You’re beautiful. You’re rolling your eyes at me aren’t you? I know, I do it too. It’s never enough, is it? That’s why the pictures keep coming.
I’m not going to ask you to stop taking pictures of yourself, but because I love my boys more than anything, and someday you’re going to inherit their hearts, I need to share some things with you. You have so many years ahead of you to live free and live loved, so I want to catch you before you go another day believing that you are not seen, that you are not beautiful unless you line your eyes with thick, dark makeup and gaze up playfully from under your lashes at your phone screen, biting your lip. It is a beautiful picture of your features, but it is not an accurate picture of you. That image is saying something about you that is not true to who you were created to be, and because I love you, already, I can’t let this go. There is no amount of “likes” that will give you what you are seeking. No one will ever be able to say the words, “you’re gorgeous” enough for you to be able to believe them and find any true value in them. I know this because it’s only been in the past few years that I realized I was seeking (and not finding) that same kind of affirmation in my own social spaces.
See, I have some of the very selfies I am describing in my own profile, and some of them are not that old. I also needed the validation, the words from other people. Sometimes I just looked dang fine and needed a new profile picture. Other times I spent forever posing and trying to catch my best angle, for optimum “likes”. I still struggle at times, but for the most part, I cringe when it’s time to update my profile picture because I don’t want the barrage of attention that comes with it, I just want to sneak it in there because it looks more like me than the old one. I’m thirty-four years old and this is still something I deal with, but you can hit it head on right now. And when you’re thirty-four and we’re drinking coffee while your kids destroy your house (trust me, with these genes, it’s inevitable —-> this is why we can’t have nice things), I’ll say, “I wish I had been this smart when I was your age.”
On top of all of this, you need to know that meeting these boys, loving them and marrying them won’t cure your need for affirmation. Life doesn’t simply resolve like a Hollywood romantic comedy or a Disney Fairy Tale lead us to believe. I love a good love story, but they never tell us the whole story. Falling in love, having a wedding, those are glorious, wonderful things, but what happens after the honeymoon is over? Life goes on in much the same way as it did before. Marriage is not the answer to all your problems (it took me a minute to figure that out too). Whatever struggles you are dealing with now will follow you and snowball unless you get to the root of them and hear what the Lord has to say about you in the midst of those things. Until your heart is content with the words of truth the Father says about you, then the words my boys tell you will not be enough either, and their efforts will become weary.
The only way to find true value is to learn to see yourself the way the Father sees you, and that is a long journey, but it’s one you must start if you want to be whole. It starts with a very simple question: “How do you see me?” That question alone, asked on my thirtieth birthday, unleashed a storehouse full of healing upon me and I’m telling you that every time I have asked that question since I have been brought to my knees in tears because His truth is so much more overwhelming and weighty than any of those notifications on Instagram or Facebook. His truth hits me so deeply that I am grieved by the ways I have reduced myself in my own eyes. His mercies are new every morning, and every morning I need new mercy.
I had to let Him come and speak to the lies that I had been believing in order to get past this junk, and every so often I recognize a lie that I haven’t seen before. He is consistently faithful to disprove them immediately and fills my heart and soul with His truth. I know that He wants to erase every lie that has ever been spoken over you and replace it with His amazing truth, too. He is longing to give you just a glimpse of what He has created within you, all of the things He was dreaming for you when He knit you together in your mother’s womb.
There are no poses or makeup styles that can make your heart more appealing to my boys. They are going to see your beauty inside and out, but I will tell you from experience that your youthful beauty is not going to be what holds them. A heart that seeks the pleasure of the Father and walks in His truth is what will woo and keep them. A woman who knows her value and holds her head high with confidence, that will have them tripping over their feet to keep up with you. That is true beauty.
Precious daughter, for the sake of your future husbands, for your future children and all the people that love you (holla!), and most importantly for your own heart, ask the Lord to show you how He sees you. Then ask Him to teach you how to rely solely on His words of truth to tell you who and how beautiful you are, because it’s true, you are. You need to hear it from Him though. His truth is worth more than anything.
Your Future Mother-in-Law
Julie is the author of the edgy Christian romance novel, Stones of Remembrance and Nor Forsake.
She loves leading worship, writing, reading, wine, chocolate, binge-watching Netflix, and helping women journey through healing into freedom.
Read more from Julie at JuliePresley.com.