When I was in third grade I became an entrepreneur for a short time. My elementary school bookstore sold NFL pencils that the boys went crazy over. For some reason I was in possession of one of these pencils when some little boy said he'd give me a dollar for it. Cha-ching. I was no dummy. I knew I could march on down to that bookstore and buy ten pencils for that price. I took my dollar and matched it, buying a whole box of these coveted NFL pencils. Now, I can only assume since many of the boys in my class were already using these writing utensils, they knew that they could purchase them for a dime just down the hall. Being the shrewd businesswoman that I was though, by the end of the day my once full box of pencils was filled with over eleven dollars. Boys were literally throwing money at me. And yes, I see the grooming that very well could have happened in that moment had my life taken a different direction. My mom, who must have had visions of this, was horrified when I brought home my dirty money and toyed with the idea of calling these little boys' mothers. Thank goodness she spared me the humiliation and just explained that I probably shouldn't do that again. Whatever, lesson learned, boys are d.u.m.b.
Fast forward to my early years of high school. Every summer my four best friends and I would go to summer camp. At the end of one of our first weeks we all realized that all of our bank funds had been depleted. But, we really wanted to go on an ice cream cruise that night or at least have a pizza delivered to our cabin. One of us had the brilliant idea that we should just ask people to give us money. Maybe we could at least get the pizza. How we underestimated the power of charming smiles and the phrase, "God loves a cheerful giver." Yep. This was what we learned from our week at Christian camp. How to use God and charming smiles to manipulate boys. Putty in our hands. We made enough money for all of us to go on that ice cream cruise and get our pizza. Lesson learned. We possessed a ridiculous power to get boys to do what we wanted with very little effort.
I don't think I ever consciously processed this power that I held, but I do know that sometime during my high school years I did make a decision that I wasn't going to use people this way. I wasn't going to objectify myself to get something I wanted, whether that was possessions, relationships, or just my own way (I'm sure Matt would say I'm still a work in progress with that last one). I think it must have only been through the Holy Spirit's leading in my life. In some ways it cost me. I missed out on a slew of boyfriends, which at times felt like the worst thing in the world. Though in hindsight, I certainly didn't miss much.
So here's what I want you to know, my Emma. You'll probably discover somewhere along the way that you can very easily manipulate the opposite sex to do what you want them to do. Resist the temptation, my dear. It's so not worth it. You see, you were created in the image of God, and the way of following Him looks different than what you'll hear from t.v., music, and even your friends. Even though Jesus was God, he set aside all his power to come to earth, serve the lowest of the low, and die a criminal's death at the hands of the powerful. He did this to defeat the powers of this world. He defeated the power of sin, so that we wouldn't have to be held captive by it. So we could know God. He defeated the power of death by his resurrection and ushered in a new way of life for those that follow him. He turned the world upside down. He didn't use people to achieve his end. I promise, using and manipulating people will only cause pain. Even when it comes to dumb boys. There will be times when you really like a boy, and there are certain ways you can act or things you can do to get him. To feel wanted. To feel loved. You are amazing and loved just as you are though my sweet, and any boy that fails to see that is not worth your heart.
There will be times when men will try to have power over you because you are a woman. Sadly, I can almost guarantee it. There will be times when men will look at you as an object instead of a person stamped with the image of God. There will be times, I'm afraid, when you will feel small. Take heart in that this is not how God created things to be, and while He's in charge of our world, he has yet to set all things right. Someday he will though.
There's something I want you to know, my love. If you are a child of God, you do have power. You have the Holy Spirit living inside of you, equipping you to live in a way that only He can do. Through His Spirit, you have the power to change the world. People may try to quiet your voice. I pray that you have the courage not to let them. But more importantly than how anyone else responds to you, I pray that God gives you the strength to find your voice and use it to love God and love others. Don't be taken in by the enticement of power. Just know that character is so important, and while it may not get you to the top, it will make it so you can peacefully lay your head down at night. Oh, and for the record, a woman of character does not mean a woman that keeps quiet. Yes, there are times to hold your tongue, but you are the type that has a voice. Use it my love. Use it. Surround yourself with all kinds of people, but make sure you have people close to you that will build you up in becoming the kind, strong, intelligent, and beautiful woman I know you are. I will always root for you. I will always have your back, and I will always understand those days when you feel like it's just not worth it to live like this.
You're so completely wonderful, my sweet, and I can't wait to see all that your future holds. You're incredible. And in case you're wondering, this is what I think about as you nap. :)