Last night I went to a Father/Daughter Ball sponsored by Fellowship of Christian Athletes in the town where I teach. My date was my own father and I was the oldest daughter there. The event was for 3rd through 8th grade daughters and their fathers. I was asked to speak at the event and I knew that at a Father/Daughter Ball, I needed my dad to accompany me, both in attending the event and in speaking. I wanted my mom to come too, so I told her she could be the 3rd wheel. I don’t think she minded.
On our way to the event, I was thinking how I wouldn’t get a date in this weekend after Mr. P cancelled last weekend. Then I looked over at my dad and I realized that we were on a date, we were going to a Father/Daughter Ball after all. I decided right then that this was my date 23 and I would write a blog post of this date. Because I needed a post for each date (that was the rule that I came up with at the beginning) and who said my own father couldn’t be apart of my 30 dates. I never had a rule against that, so really I am not breaking any rules. Who am I kidding? I pretty much make up the rules as I go anyway.
We arrived at the event and stayed in the car to pray for the evening. My dad and I had spent a few hours that day going over what we would speak about. But no matter what we said, it wouldn’t matter if God didn’t show up and take over.
We spent the first part of the evening eating hors d’oeuvres, which were very good by the way. It is probably because I have the palate of a 3rd grader – chicken strips, fruit, chips and dip and cupcakes. Then eventually fathers started taking their daughters out on the dance floor. It was inspiring to watch. Watching these dads spin their young beautiful daughters in sparkly dresses around the dance floor literally melted my heart. They were precious, every single one of them. During a slow dance, my dad and I ventured out to the dance floor. Out of all of the men that I shared dances with, my dad had the most. However, it had been awhile and I was a bit rusty as I forgot which hand went where. My dad laughed, but soon I remembered.
After we finished our plates and our dance, we continued to watch the men and their daughters dancing until it was time for us to speak. Even though I had spent hours preparing that day feeling pretty confident, I started second guessing myself.
Am I sharing exactly what these girls need to hear? Will it be too over their head? Can I sustain their attention? Should I just scrap the whole thing and just stand up there and tell them how beautiful God thinks they are?
This usually starts to happen to me when I am actually with the people that I am about to speak to. But I think it is just part of my nerves. Even though I don’t actually feel nervous speaking in front of people anymore, I think my nerves come out through second guessing everything I prepared.
I stopped worrying, gave it to God ONE more time and continued to watch the dancing unfold around me. While I did this, I couldn’t help but think that this was how it should be, men spending an evening with their little girls making them feel beautiful and cherished. Unfortunately, there are a number of girls that wish they had an available father to take them to this ball and my heart broke for several of my students that I teach that didn’t have this luxury. One of my students said, “My dad would never go to something like that with me, I don’t even need to ask him.” She was the same girl that when I called her beautiful last year, she responded with, “that was the first time anyone has ever told me that.” Many other girls don’t even know their dad to be able to ask them. What I wish that those girls knew and maybe I will get to tell them one day is that they really do have a Father. God is their ultimate Father and He loves them more than any earthly man could ever love them.
As my thoughts wandered through these sad realizations, I looked over at my dad as he was smiling watching the girls and their dads dance. I was so blessed to have him in my life. Even if I was about to get up there and speak and say all of the wrong things, I was at least excited to share with everyone how special my dad was to me and what a great job he did in raising a little girl who would have never known she was beautiful if it wasn’t for her daddy telling her.
Around 8:30, I got up to speak and then eventually called my dad up to share some stories as I talked. Here is a shortened version of what I shared, because if I shared the whole thing, this post would be way too long. So it may seem a bit choppy, as I cut a lot out, including my dad’s stories.
I have a dog named Luci, she listens pretty well now, well most of the time, but that was not always the case. The first few months of having her, she liked to play this game called “running away.” I hated that game. Luci used to love to go in my neighbor’s yard. I tried to tell her over and over that her boundaries were to stay in my backyard and only my backyard.
When Luci ran away I would freak out and start chasing her. I didn’t want anything happening to her. Even after 20 minutes, I wouldn’t give up, I would have chased her all night if I had to, probably to the point of tears, but I would have done it, because I loved her. I kept chasing and running around barefoot in circles and I started feeling like it was useless, but I didn’t give up and I didn’t catch her….until… she finally LET me. I don’t know why she let me, I am not sure if she got tired of running herself, because I certainly was out of breath, or if she just finally understood that I was chasing her because I loved her so much and I wanted her to come home with me.
This is how Jesus works. Imagine for a second that you are like my little dog Luci and that God is our owner. God has set up specific boundaries for us because He loves us and He already knows what bad things will happen to us when we go outside of our boundaries. For some reason, we tend to want to run away to see what it is like outside of His boundaries.
It is like going in the neighbor’s yard and soon we are drifting too far away from home, that we could get ourselves in trouble and hurt. See in Luci’s little brain of hers, she wasn’t aware of the consequences of drifting from my yard, but I knew. And that is why I chased after her. I loved her so much, that I didn’t want her to experience any of those bad things.
Now think back to us for a second, we can be like Luci. We might want to leave our boundaries, but the problem is bad things might happen to us and God knows that. That is why He keeps chasing after us no matter how long it takes.
The reason that I never gave up on Luci when she ran away from me was because she was MY dog and I had already spent a lot of money on her, I paid a price for her. The price I paid was just a little bit compared to what God did for us. God had to give up His only Son, Jesus. Jesus had to die on the cross because He knew that we were people who liked to run away. This is called sin and we are not allowed to go to heaven if we have sin in our lives. Well the problem is everyone sins. I sinned when I was just three years old because I didn’t listen to my dad when he told me to say thank you.
My dad had to teach me manners, but my dad couldn’t save me. Only Jesus’ death on the cross could. Jesus died on the cross to remove all of those sins from our lives, so that one day we could go to heaven and have no boundaries. All we needed to do was accept this gift that doesn’t cost us anything. Jesus said in heaven, we could run around wherever we wanted because nothing bad could happen there. And one day, I look forward to experiencing that. But right now, we are still on Earth. And on Earth, bad things can still happen to us, so God wants to protect us as much as He can by setting up boundaries in our lives.
But in the end, just like Luci had to decide if she was going to listen to me, we have to decide if we are going to always just do what we want to do or if we are going to listen to God. Remember God knows everything and wants us to go to Heaven where nothing bad can ever happen to us again. If Luci decides to not listen to me, she might get hurt. If we decide to do whatever we want to do on Earth, we might get hurt too.
So I want to share a few things with you tonight about some boundaries in my own life that I have set because I wanted to do what Jesus asked me to do. The first boundary had to do with boys. My dad taught me at a very early age that the most important thing to look for when I started dating was a guy that loved Jesus with his whole heart. If I could find that, nothing else mattered.
That was easy for me to want when I was 7 or 8 years old, because at that time I thought everyone loved Jesus. When I reached middle school, I soon found out that wasn’t true. I was shocked at some of the things I would hear my classmates talking about and listen to some of the things they would do. I knew in middle school I was different and I decided shortly after that I would live my entire life devoted to God. I would be different than the world around me. And as I got older I saw the spiritual leader that my dad was and I knew I wanted that in a husband one day. I didn’t want to date just anyone, I wanted to date someone who loved Jesus with everything they had and showed that to other people.
When I entered high school, my dad’s worst nightmare came true. My first real crush didn’t love Jesus at all. He knew who Jesus was and he believed. But he didn’t live like he loved Jesus. One night, he asked me the question, “Would you be my girlfriend?” I can honestly tell you that everything inside of me was screaming yes. This is what I had been waiting for. Any 16 year old girl would have said yes. But then I realized, I wasn’t just ANY girl. I had made the decision a few years back to be set apart and stay within the boundaries that God set up for my life. When I told my parents that the boy I liked asked to be my boyfriend, my dad was quiet.
My dad could have stood up and started yelling at me, “Haven’t you paid attention to what I’ve been saying ALL of your life?! Are you really considering dating a boy like that? Don’t you remember you want a man that loves Jesus?!” But he didn’t. He didn’t because he knew that I already knew, he had spent 16 years instilling in me that it was very important to choose a boyfriend that loved Jesus. That night, neither one of us got much sleep. I tossed and turned all night, knowing what I would have to tell my crush. My dad later told me, he was up the entire night praying for me.
Later I had to tell that boy, I was choosing not to date him, not because my parents forbid me to, but because I knew it wasn’t the right choice. I went to bed that night and began crying myself to sleep, but as I did that I felt God saying to me. “You chose me, daughter. I am so proud of you for choosing me.” That night I prayed to God, “God, lock my heart up until you bring the man into my life that is meant for me. A man that loves you with all of his heart.”
So many times girls feel that once they reach a certain age they need to have a boyfriend. They don’t feel pretty unless they have a boyfriend telling them that. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case for me. My first crush called me beautiful and told me I was special and don’t get me wrong that made me feel good, but he wasn’t telling me anything that I hadn’t heard before from my dad. There isn’t a true study out there yet, at least not one I am aware of, but I can pretty much bet that a girl is going to fall in love with the first man that calls her beautiful. So why not let that be her daddy? Girls need to hear their beautiful when they are 5, but also when they are 13, especially when they are 13. And they will need to hear it when they are 16 too and 20 and even 25 and 29. And while I am not married yet, I can also bet that wives need to hear it often, even after several years of marriage…after decades of being married. It’s what we need to hear.
I made a few other decisions in my life regarding boundaries around the time of my first crush. I decided that I wasn’t going to dress to get guys’ attention. I like clothes and I enjoy fashion. I could dress cute and fashionable, but in a way that honored the Lord and protected me from guys that didn’t have my best interest at heart.
1 Corinthians 6:19, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself”
That means that my body belongs to God and I am thankful for that, because he created me. He created me to be beautiful, just like he created you beautiful as well.
If I was going to look for a guy that loved Jesus, I wanted to show others that I loved Him too. In order to do this, I was careful of how I spoke to others. I wanted to be nice and kind. I wanted to make sure that the words that came out of my mouth were honoring to God and not disappointing him. I wanted others to see my love for Jesus by my words and actions on an every day basis.
Another thing that I did was choose my friends wisely. If I started noticing that my friends were making bad decisions that I knew would disappoint God, I started hanging out with them less and less. Be careful of the friends that you choose to associate with, because many times they can get you in trouble.
The next big decision I made was in regards to kissing. I decided that I was not going to kiss a guy unless I knew for sure that they could take care of my heart and my feelings. I heard about a lot of girls that would kiss boys whenever they wanted, even if they weren’t in a committed relationship. And then that boy would break their heart and they would be left in a path of devastation. Or I saw girls that thought if they didn’t have their first kiss by a certain age, then that meant they were uncool. I chose to not believe in those lies. Choosing to not believe those lies has led me to being almost 30 years old and no first kiss yet. And I don’t regret it for one single second. You will never regret saving your kisses for as long as you can.
It is not a rule that you shouldn’t kiss until you are 30, although I am sure many dads in here wish that it could be. I am not telling you girls that you have to wait until you turn 30 to kiss boys. You won’t find that written in the Bible, unless your dad writes it in there. But God wants you to choose purity and that IS in the Bible. I am telling you that you need to listen to what God wants for you. Don’t feel like you have to be like everyone else – that you need to have a boyfriend and kiss in middle school or high school. Remember that doing it God’s way will save you from a lot of hurt in the end.
Galatians 6:9 says,
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do no give up.”
Do not give up girls, staying within God’s boundaries for our lives may not always be easy, but it will always be worth it, always, every single time.
I know this was a long one, so if you are still reading, thanks for your time. I hope in some small way maybe you found something encouraging. Or maybe just intriguing.
Thanks Dad, for still being the man that holds my heart and for always wanting to go on dates with me.
I’ll pick back up with more dates next weekend with MR. KJWTS.
7 dates and counting down.