Several months ago my children and I were at a friend’s house for lunch. My friend went into the kitchen to get something while I remained in the family room. I began to thumb through her magazines when my daughters joined me. They looked at SELF Magazine, ALLURE Magazine, and a few others. My girls flipped through a few pages lingering on some and skimming others. Once they left the room, I picked up the magazines they had gone through. Of the first 15 pages of one magazine, 11 of them had makeup or skin care ads. Page after page challenged the reader to rid herself of unsightly blemishes, dark circles, fine lines, and graying hair. My girls didn’t even flinch.
As I sat there looking at the pictures, I realized for my girls it is already completely normal for women’s magazines to begin with attractive women demonstrating how to fix where we each fall short physically. They are so accustomed to this reality it is normal. I started thinking about what images might be around our house and what messages they receive from simply living there. Our home is a place where we have a powerful opportunity to point young women to truth and beauty and hope. For this reason, to consider a new narrative for our girls, we should first take a look at the tangible aspect of our homes. What we value within our own walls will shape what our daughters will value as well.
There is a passage in the book of Deuteronomy known as the SHEMA and it continually shapes and transforms how I parent and mentor. This passage is rich with directions of how to instill the truth in our children. “You shall bind them (words of truth) as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Dt. 6:9 The Israelites knew that the eyes of their children were an entrance to their hearts. They literally would write passages of truth in places that their children and others who entered their home would see.
If outside the home our girls are seeing hundreds if not thousands of images encouraging bodily perfection, we must consider the messages found within our walls. What is shaping and framing our homes? We may not paint Bible verses on the doorway of their bedrooms (although it may not be a terrible idea) but we can consider how our homes point to the place where they can find true value and what brings them ultimate hope, happiness, and thankfulness. Put simply, what they see is what they will think about. “Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness…. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.” Matthew 6:22-24. Our homes can be a safe haven from the images that bombard them on a daily basis. They can be a lamp that illumines truth, beauty, and hope. Some ways we can give life to our doorposts include:
- Use wipe erase markers to put passages of scripture or other forms of inspiration on their mirrors.
- Have a chalkboard or whiteboard in a prominent place that has a verse or idea that you memorize/discuss as a family.
- Have magazines/books that point to people, issues, and situations that provide perspective. My husband and I choose magazines that point our children to both hope and needs in the world. Some suggestions are Compassion Magazine, Mission Frontiers, World Magazine, Christianity Today, interest magazines such as National Geographic or Scientific American, health magazines that do not focus on appearance, or magazines that encourage hobbies.
- Play music that does not focus solely on sex and a woman’s physical desirability. (This means listening to the music our girls listen to and helping them make wise choices)
- Consider their bedrooms: what do the posters communicate to your daughter. Find posters/signs/framed art that promotes flourishing, hope, empowerment, and fun. The picture on this post is in my youngest daughter’s bedroom.
- Lastly, talk about your doorposts with other women. Seek to do this as a community. Share ideas that promote life and flourishing for our girls.
What if when our girls wake up their doorposts communicated something like this?
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made Ps. 139
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil 4:13
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Proverbs 31
I do not cease to give thanks for (her name), remembering (name) in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom…having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that (name) may know what is the hope to which he has called you…Ephesians 1
For you (insert her name) are His workmanship, created in Jesus Christ for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that (insert her name) should walk in them. Ephesians 2
And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself for us… Ephesians 5
As we provide tangible evidence of the truth and the reality of something much greater than ourselves, the eyes of our girls will be directed towards the light. They will inevitably think about the messages they see in our homes. God is faithful to His word and to His daughters and as He works in their hearts (and ours) the tangible light displayed will challenge the darkness that seeks to define our girls by appearance alone. Their idea of beauty will be deepened and refined and the light of the truth will give them eyes to truly see that they are fearfully and wonderfully made. The light will outshine the darkness.
The next post will consider the “signs on their hands and the frontlets between their eyes” as we continue to use the SHEMA.