Tuesday, January 27, 2015

To the Women and Daughters Beside You and Me

"This was Anja?" 

Photo: Andrew Iverson, Creative Commons, cc license
Bouncing jaunty shoulders to big band swing, her blonde curl ringlets dipped and swayed too. In a crowd of several hundred, we gaped in surprise and shook heads in mirthful laughter. Our reserved Finnish high schooler had a larger-than-life dramatic side of her that we didn't often see. The show-choir dance piece ended with thirty synchronized bows and our two rows of moms and daughters clapped, grinned, and cheered.

Before the show, four carloads of us met for a Mexican supper, dragging restaurant tables closer, shaping a long line of friends. Moms and daughters, young and older, pulled up chairs, and dipped salty tortilla chips into fresh red salsa. Laughter ricocheted loudly in our corner of the dark restaurant, and moms shushed an end table of teens while the waiter leaned in close to hear our order.

And throughout the evening, an elementary girl wrapped arms close with a middle school girl. Senior high girls smiled and pulled in the younger girls, talking with them across the tables, and dragging them into group photos. Twenty-year olds mingled in with forty-year olds, whispering and giggling throughout the night, and the beauty of it was priceless. 

In between the Broadway hits and the jazzy big band songs, one girl on stage caught my attention. She wasn't one of my youth group girls that I knew or had met, but she was someone. And we all are, huh? She is someone's daughter, someone's friend, someone's sister, and the sight of her made me tear up. Dancing with great talent in a blue sequined dress, her sunken cheeks and bone-thin legs and arms sent warning lights off in my brain. With her inherent soulful inner beauty never in question, this young teen was either recovering from ravaging illness or she was in the deep throes of anorexia. My youth worker's heart ached to  know how I could help, and I wanted to assure her that she was strong, and that her beauty was never trapped to a dress size, and that there was hope and help. She danced determinedly across the stage, mincing steps on legs that seemed too narrow to support her, and I choked back tears. "You have always been lovely and capable, brimming with potential, you --this young sister/daughter that I do not know. How can we come alongside and help?" I whispered silently, uselessly. Knowing my only choice was to pray, I tapped my toes to the rhythm, cheered the teams on, and prayed for this girl, and all the teens on stage.

My role? Your role? To model and tell the girls and women around us of their value, their beauty, and the strength and potential that has been imprinted in them by their Creator. We bear the stamped-in seal of the Star-Breather, the Galaxy-Spinner, and the Light-Bringer. Over grilled steak tacos in the restaurants, and when cheering on big band singers, while leaning over to speak with twenty-somethings, sixteen-year olds, and everyone in between, we get to invest in each other, and talk about our amazing God who loves, and creates, and spins works of art.

Hi friends. Join me in this endeavor? It is such an honor and joy that we get to invest in and treasure these relationships around us.

Hey, if you think about it, would you pray with me about some upcoming speaking engagements? I am honored to speak at some MOPS groups and women's conferences on Feb. 5th, Feb. 18th, March 6 & 7th, and March 19th? I am honored, and love this chance to spend time praying for these women beforehand too. Thank you. How can I pray for you? (Those in email can click here to comment.)

16 comments:

Bill (cycleguy) said...

it certainly breaks the heart to see someone who is lovely choose a path which says, "I am not." I do hope someone reaches out to her and let's her know she is.

floyd sam said...

When all of us see others and ourselves the way our Father does… it changes everything. Our eyes and flesh can't see the true beauty that the lost world tries to hide.

Bless your heart for being the eyes and heart of our Father.

I'm praying for you as you share the gifts of God with the ones He's put in your path.

My heart breaks for young people that so desperately need the Truth!

Ceil said...

Hi Jennifer! What a sadness to see a young lady who is so gifted, struggle so much with her body image.
I do hope that someone, perhaps her family, is working with her. Something like anorexia takes a long time to overcome.
Best of blessings on your upcoming speaking dates! I pray that you will be effective and uplifting, bringing new insights to your groups.
Ceil

Melissa said...

Thought the same thoughts and prayed along side you for the same Dear. Loved the last song, Survivor. Claimed that for her, a Blue dress beauty's Rescuer will come and save her days! Thanks Jen for your thoughts.

Betty Draper said...

I would say the same heart that wanted to reach out to that young lady will reach those ladies hearts at the conference. Praying.

TC Avey said...

I just prayed for you!

Your post reminded to "speak life".

Cheryl Barker said...

Jennifer, that's wonderful that you're getting so many chances to speak in the next few weeks. May God guide you in all your preparations and may He give you the words that each of the groups need to hear. May His love shine through you!

Dolly@Soulstops said...

Jennifer,

Just prayed for the young lady and for your speaking engagements...how sad when one gets caught up in lies about how one's body looks...how fun to see your daughter and the other young ladies dance :-)

Jennifer Dougan said...

Bill,

Oh I agree. Hurting for those who hurt...

Jennifer Dougan
www.jenniferdougan.com

Jennifer Dougan said...

Floyd,

It does! It changes everything, doesn't it?

Thank you. I appreciate it.

Jennifer Dougan
www.jenniferdougan.com

Jennifer Dougan said...

Ceil,

Thank you, I appreciate your prayers and blessings on those speaking engagements.

Jennifer Dougan
www.jenniferdougan.com

Jennifer Dougan said...

Melissa,

I'm so glad you ached for her too, and prayed hard alongside her. Yes, the "Survivor" song for our blue dress girl. The Rescuer, I love that.

Jennifer Dougan
www.jenniferdougan.com

Jennifer Dougan said...

Thank you, Betty. I am thankful for your heart and for your prayers.

Jennifer Dougan
www.jenniferdougan.com

Jennifer Dougan said...

Thank you, TC. Yes, let's speak like to ourselves and to the people around us.

Jennifer Dougan
www.jenniferdougan.com

Jennifer Dougan said...

Thank you, Cheryl. I appreciate your praying for me and your support. Yes, that's my prayer too, that God would speak through me for his glory.

Jennifer Dougan
www.jenniferdougan.com

Jennifer Dougan said...

Thank you, Dolly, for praying with me for this teen girl that I do not know. Thank you. May she know how special and valuable she is.

Thanks for the prayers for these speaking engagements too.

Blessings to you,
Jennifer Dougan

P.S.
It wasn't my daughter who danced, but one of my youth group girls we were cheering on.