Six years ago a group of middle school-aged males walked out the door of Pizza Hut. They shoved the door open, laughing and punching each other. One looked back before he let the door slam shut—in my face.
It is not an unforgiving heart that retains the wounds of that six-year-old memory. It’s just that my ego was crushed for all eternity. Actually, I’ve got a whole Book of Grudges about Young Men Who Do Not Hold the Door Open. The teens back at our old church who would let doors slam all over the place while mothers struggled with babies and bags. The guys at the library who wouldn’t even look back to see if there was a lady coming. The public schooled sampling who graciously let me prop the door open for them while my hands were full—and then complained under their breath that I was in the way. (Or perhaps not. That part gets more colorful as time progresses and recollection fades.)
Deep, deep down, I’ve got dignity. A dignity that’s easily crawled over and stamped on and shoved away. But it’s strong. In my private opinion, I’m worth something—at least I ought to be. Every girl, in her own way, expresses the same sense of worth—from the girl who feels insecure because no one will look her way to the drama queen who needs to meet a daily quota of attention to the little lady who keeps tabs on who and who does not hold the door open for her.
We need to be wanted. Loved. More than that—cherished. And as I tried to explain to a male friend, we do odd things to articulate that—like picking on someone to subtly remind them to be kind to us—or else. And it’s a drive so strong that some girls sacrifice their worth in order to satisfy it. Good little Christian girls are warned not to dress like, act like or think like the girls of the world—the girls who bring a guy down, who are all available and flaunt that, whose chief goal is to snag a date for the weekend.
We’d never be like them. But that little cover-up—the thinking that we could never allow ourselves to fall so far—oftentimes brings us to the line. If we don’t admit that, we’ll stumble. A quiet but true fact: Good little Christian girls are sinful enough to share the same secret desires as the floozy down the road and smart enough not to mention the fact that they do. We’d never wear a shirt that tight or a skirt that short—but we might be very conscious that our not-too-tight shirt complements our figures just beautifully or that our modest skirt looks as mod as the next girl’s.
We’d never cake on a ton of make-up like her—but we might spend an inordinate amount of time in front of the mirror, pinching our cheeks and practicing smiles. We’d never, ever, ever sit in the lap of anyone of the opposite sex—but we might kind of giggle at all his jokes and blush a little when he looks at us and perhaps (just maybe) send secret smiles and thoughts his way.
We’d never date a guy before eighteen—but we might fantasize (in private) about a particular gentleman until our appetites waste away and our sleep is crowded with happy daydreams.
Some girls just struggle with keeping their hearts pure, with not letting their fancy sweep them off their feet before Prince Charming does—and they, if they’re not careful, can get themselves into a lot of trouble innocently. But others aren’t as giddy and senseless, and struggle not because they’re ignorant but because they’re very conscious about how different they are—and how little attention it rakes in.
It’s not easy seeing girls have a boy on each arm and one trailing her because she dresses a certain way and acts a certain way—while you do and have the exact opposite. It’s hard to have standards that don’t openly encourage little glances and grins. It leaves one feeling a bit left out to be just as pretty, just as smart, just as capable and not have anyone—anyone—interested in you. We like attention—even the best little Christian girl. We’re pure-hearted, modest, decent, hardworking, affectionate girls—all good and godly things—and nobody notices. (Nobody except mothers married thirty years and perhaps a caring grandfatherly figure. Nobody like the boy we’re ESPing to fall in love with us.)
So we think that our standards may be wrong—that our parents may be slightly misguided—that there’s something seriously abnormal and crazy about us. We bend and we crack to compromise without actually compromising—doing whatever we can to look pretty and confident and beloved by all. And some standards get shoved aside entirely.
What we should be questioning—and what we often aren’t—is the response we’re not getting. Boys aren’t drooling all over you? You’d never have to choose between three suitors and a secret admirer who serenades you at midnight?
If the same boys who are hanging on the arm of just any ol’ regular gal aren’t flocking to you—that says something about your worth.
If the young gentleman who sends chills up your spine doesn’t declare his passionate (and perceived) love to you—as a friend of mine encouraged me, that means he respects you too much to mess around with your heart.
If you aren’t being watched and talked about and asked out every other day—that says something about how you’re special enough to warrant one whole heart instead of a dozen little pieces from half-men.
It’s so easy to compromise when our goal is merely attention and romance. But that’s not our goal. It’s so easy to feel lonely and unlovely because no one’s ever shown an interest in you. But that’s not where our worth lies.
Being gentle and discreet, modest and pure, lovely and feminine—we do it because we are loved by and are expressing love for a great heavenly Father, who holds us so precious in His eyes and so gently in His hands. When we rest secure in that, our differences become a wall of protection and not a barricade—a testimony to our pricelessness and not a prison to our unworthiness. That is a gem not all girls can claim—and it is to be guarded above all else. Don’t be fooled by the world’s standard of beauty, of worth, of feminine charm—if you are a daughter of God, you are worth something.
No matter how many times a door slams in your face.
Bailey is a sixteen-year-old homeschooler in love with anything literary or theological. The second oldest of nine children, she finds joy in romping with her younger siblings, scribbling in her ever-expanding notebook and trying her hand at the home arts. While her talents naturally tend toward academic junky, her deepest wish is to serve the Lord in the home. Catch up with all her thoughts at Big House in the Little Woods.