Femininity Begins with Self-Respect

I grew up in a solid Christian home. My father was an evangelist who traveled extensively, holding revival meetings. Our entire family traveled with him for four years full time. We lived in a twenty-eight-foot motor home (two adults, four children, and a dog!). I recall my father always seeking a deeper relationship with God. As God shared things with him, he would in turn share them with the family. We were all very close, and each of us knew we were loved without question.

In spite of this godly upbringing, I struggled. From my earliest memory I was thoroughly convinced that I was ugly and unlovable. These feelings shaped many of my choices and behaviors as I was growing up.

My crisis moment came when I entered a conservative Christian college. I recall walking by the boys' dormitory the first day or two after I arrived, and I heard laughter. I immediately felt in my heart, You see, even here they know who you are. You're laughable, Kim! Who would ever want you?

The reality is that the guys in that dorm room that day had no idea I was even there. They were laughing about who knows what. But the enemy of our souls is mean and a liar. I was too wounded to recognize him for who he was, and I believed every word.

My mother and sister who had brought me to college were ready to make the four-hour drive back home. In those last moments together I broke down. I had never shown my mother blatant disrespect, but my wounded spirit had reached its breaking point. I yelled at her, "Why did you ever let me be born? I never should have been allowed to live!"

I think God gave my mother an extra abundance of grace that day. She looked at me, and after a moment's pause said, "Kim, I don't know what to do. I have told you your whole life how valued and precious you are. God is going to have to show you now—I can't."

Now that I am a mother of a child in college, I can't imagine the pain [my mother] felt that day as she and my sister pulled away and drove those hours home. She has since told me she spent much time praying.

I went to my dorm room and fell on my face before God. I was broken and wounded. I cried out to God asking Him the same questions I had asked of my mother: "Why, God? Why? Why would You let me be born when You knew what a disappointment I would be? I'm ugly and not worth anything!" The words flowed from my heart; I had been afraid my entire life to be so honest with God. I lay on the floor, facedown, for hours. The room became dark as the sun set. It was then that I heard, Kim, you are beautifully and wonderfully made.

"No, I can't be," I responded.

He said without words, I knit you in your mother's womb. I knew your name. I loved you and you were mine.

God was so patient with me. He quietly, gently spoke my name, brought to mind Scripture as if He had written it just for me. My spirit began to quiet, and His spirit fell on that room in a beautiful way. God began healing me.

I truly believed I was unlovely, unlovable, and unworthy. Now I know what a lie that was. This is why I am such an advocate for girls to recognize their worth. If respect for ourselves doesn't take root in the heart, we can never realize the full potential of who God created us to be, and we can never really respect others. The more I see myself as God sees me, the more I can see others as God sees them. I've taught in schools off and on since 1984. Through the years I have seen a decline in the behavior of young ladies. My heart has been heavy for them as I see such wounds and pain. Seeing in them the same struggles I had experienced, I began to seek ways to address some of them.

While at a teachers' conference, I saw a rhinestone pin shaped like a crown. I immediately thought of my middle school students who didn't value themselves, who didn't know how to be ladies or respect themselves. I purchased the pin, knowing that the girls would be drawn to the "glitz."

The next day at school I wore it, and sure enough, the girls asked me about it. It was the invitation I was looking for. I began by stating in an offhanded way that it reminds me that if I want to be a princess, I need to act like one and expect to be treated like one. I was amazed by the response. The concept of being so highly valued was foreign. It became the focus of our girls' class (I taught in a single-gender classroom).

These girls had no idea that they could expect to be treated like ladies, let alone act like one.

I have found that many of the girls I teach:

  • are being raised by working or single mothers
  • are being raised by parents who were themselves raised without a moral compass necessary for healthy behavior
  • have no positive male influence in their lives

While many young ladies who come out of homes like these are strong and healthy individuals, I saw more pain and damage than anything else. The girls who didn't have the moral guidance of an involved parent habitually made poor choices. By God's grace, I found that engaging these young ladies helped many of them to realize they were worth more than they knew, and they began expecting others to treat them with healthy respect. And it goes way beyond expecting boys to be gentlemen. With these girls it was about respecting themselves, accepting who they were, and coming to the point of celebrating who they were created to be.

What started with a crown-shaped pin became a yearlong focus on femininity. I had many conversations with the girls as they brought up struggles they experienced that destroyed their self-respect. I've seen lives changed and have even prayed with students (in a public school, no less) as a result of this focus. Girls want to know who they are! They want to be accepted and loved. That's why so many of them make the poor choices that they do. I believe we women have been remiss in giving that guidance, thus the havoc that has been wreaked in our girls. These girls are too precious to lose.

Book: Bringing Up Girls

By Dr. James Dobson

Article By Kim Davis

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