“But Jesus wouldn’t say no,” my daughter said from the kitchen table.
My head whipped around so fast I almost spit out my coffee.
“Jesus would ABSOLUTELY say no.” I said with vehemence. “Everyone has the right to say no.”
“But I don’t want to be mean.”
“I understand that, honey. You don’t have to be mean, but saying no isn’t mean. You should NEVER feel pressured to go anywhere you don’t want to go.”
“Okay, fine. I will tell them I don’t want to go. What should I say? What is the Christian way to say no?”
“THE CHRISTIAN WAY?!?! Like this: ‘No, thank you. I can’t go with you to ____________________ .’ You can be a Christian, be kind to others, and still be in charge of your body.”
My words resonated between us. Partly because I was speaking so passionately that my voice seemed to echo off the walls, and partly because of the importance of what we were discussing. Did she hear me? Did she really hear me? I was desperate for her to hear this message.
“Honey, do you understand what I am saying?” I asked in a calmer voice. “This is important. Girls can be kind, and love Jesus, and treat others the way He would want us to treat them, AND STILL SAY NO. We can say no to going somewhere we don’t want to go, we can say no to talking about something we don’t want to talk about, we can say no to anyone invading our personal space. You are in charge.”
I turned and looked at my other two daughters who were quietly doing their homework. “Do you girls hear me?” I asked.
They nodded and looked at me with big eyes.
“This is what we were talking about the other day,” I said as I sat down next to my daughters. “When you told me about that person who liked to give you hugs? You said it made you uncomfortable but you didn’t want to hurt their feelings? Same thing. You tell them, ‘Please stop hugging me. It makes me uncomfortable.’ If their feelings get hurt, that’s okay. We don’t need to protect their feelings as much as we need to protect your body.”
“Okay, Mom. We understand.” my daughter said in her exasperated-teenager-voice.
I am not sure she does understand. I am not sure any of them do. That is why we must have this conversation over and over again. My daughters are innocent and they are growing up in a world that wants to exploit this innocence. It is my job to prepare them to fight for themselves. I don’t want them to strive to be good girls. I want them to be God girls.
• Victorious (1 Cor. 15:57)
• Blessed with every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3)
• More than a conquerer (Romans 8:37)
• Fellow citizens with the saints (Eph. 2:19)
Daughters, you are not less than anyone, no matter what the world tries to tell you.
“Have I ever told you about the time I was on a school field trip in 8th grade?” I asked as I looked around the table. “Our entire class had gone to San Francisco for the day. We were driving home in a chartered bus, one of those big ones with the oversized chairs. It was late at night. A lot of people were asleep. The driver had turned the lights out so it was dark. I tried to make myself comfortable by leaning against the window. I was dozing off and on. Maybe I was asleep or maybe I was in that dreamy in-between state, but all of a sudden I felt someone’s hand on my leg.”
“I kind of froze. I didn’t move. I wasn’t really sure what was happening. Then the hand started rubbing. I realized it was the boy who was sitting next to me. He wasn’t my boyfriend. We weren’t even really friends. In fact, he was kind of a trouble-maker and I didn’t like to hang out with him. Anyway, he put his hand on my leg, way down here by my knee. Then he started rubbing. I kept leaning against the window, pretending to be asleep, and hoping he would move his hand. He kept rubbing. Then his hand started to move higher on my leg, just a little bit at a time. I kept my eyes closed and started praying he would go away. His hand kept moving higher and higher. I felt all panicky inside. You know that fluttery feeling in your stomach? My heart was beating really fast. I felt like I might cry. His hand kept creeping higher and higher on my leg. I didn’t want to cause a scene. I didn’t want to make him mad. So I just sat there. Finally, his hand got all the way up to here. The edge of his finger was touching my private areas. I was silent on the outside but on the inside my thoughts were screaming. Say something. No, don’t. Just lay here and be quiet. Sit up and move his hand. No, just let him touch you. Stop him!”
“Girls, I was too worried about being nice. I was too worried about being a good girl. I was too worried about everything else and not worried enough about protecting my body. But, I finally did it. I opened my eyes and I sat up and I whispered, ‘Move your hand. One of the teachers might see us and we will get in trouble.’ Even though I had finally found the courage to stop him, I still wasn’t able to take ownership of it. I tried to blame the teachers. And do you know what? That was okay! It worked! He stopped! The rest of the bus ride home he completely ignored me.”
“Mooooooooom! That’s awkward.” my girls moaned as they gathered up their school supplies. “Why do you always tell us embarrassing stories like that?”
Why do I tell you embarrassing stories like that? To equip you. To give you the weapons you will need to fight for your body. This world is a battle ground. Women are often treated like spoils of war. We are not a prize to be won. We are not a conquest. We are warriors and we must act like it.
Why do I tell you embarrassing stories like that? Because, sadly, I have far too many stories like this to share. I hope you will never have the same kinds of stories to share with your daughters. These are my #metoo stories and maybe they can protect you from having your own hashtag baggage weighing you down.
Why do I tell you embarrassing stories like that? So you can learn from my past. So you can prepare for your future. I want you to understand that you can say no as many times as you need to. Say no. Say no. Say no.
Why do I tell you embarrassing stories like that? So you understand that Jesus was not only a Lamb, He was also a Lion. You are a Daughter of the King and you are a Conquerer through Christ. You are a princess and you are a priest. You have been given strength instead of weakness (2 Cor. 12:10). Use your strength, girls. Be strong and courageous.
Why do I tell you embarrassing stories like that? Because I love you.