We have a triple amazing guest writer today. Wendy Scott was the speaker at Faith UMC’s Women’s Retreat last February, and she is one of the funniest, most awesome people that I know. She and I now belong to the same writer’s critique group, and when I read her most recent submission, I immediately asked her if we could post it here. Because you guys, I’m telling you…her parenting wisdom…I need it.
Here’s a quick snapshot of her background:
Wendy is married to a high school basketball coach; has three amazing kids; and she writes bible studies. (Seriously, you guys, I have a significant bias towards anyone who loves basketball AND writes bible studies.) Plus, she loves coffee and is a self-proclaimed sarcasm expert. I could not love her more.
More than any of those “Favorite Reasons to Like Wendy A Lot”, Wendy challenges me regularly to live into deeper faith…to live as a mother, wife, and writer who doesn’t fit the world’s pattern. But she doesn’t just talk about what faith people should do…she’s the type of person that does it.
By: Wendy Scott
Dear Teenage Daughter,
Now that the initial sting is passed and the tears have dried, I’m hoping to better explain why I made you cry.
Sweetheart, right now your world is expanding at a rate that is intoxicating. New freedoms are constantly being made available to you to the point that you no longer expect to be told “No.” So today when I told you no, there was a shock of reality that caused great disappointment.
Though you might not believe it now, the goal of my life isn’t to make yours miserable. And while I don’t enjoy making you cry, I’m also not afraid to, either—especially when I’m confident that I’m protecting you from harm.
I know all of your friends are going to see that movie. I’m also aware that, technically, you’re old enough to be admitted. But being able doesn’t mean you should.
You see, I did a little research. I read more than just the reviews written by the “professional critics.” I read the synopsis, so I know there are some really positive elements in the film. I also know it’s a really good story – one that does everything a really good story should. It makes one laugh and cry. It creates an immediate bond between the characters and the viewers. The viewers aren’t meant simply to watch the movie, but become deeply emotionally involved. And this is precisely where I begin to take issue – why I feel it’s not only inappropriate for you, but potentially harmful for you.
Though you probably can’t believe this to be true, you aren’t yet fully emotionally developed. You haven’t yet reached an age where your rational self informs your emotional self. Instead, you are precariously perched in a place where you’ve gained some control over your emotions, which makes you believe that you’ve gained full control over your emotions. The trouble is that, in this phase of life, you are particularly vulnerable to manipulation, especially when it comes in the form of a young love drama where the leads are played by extremely attractive actors who exhibit fairytale-like qualities.
As the leads in the film face premature mortality, he loves her so sacrificially, so extravagantly, that her cynical heart softens again to the idea of loving and being loved. The movie portrays every young girl’s dream to find a (hot) guy to see past all her faults, all that she believes makes her unworthy of being loved, and loves her into something beautiful.
So in this particular story, when the self-protective shell around her heart finally cracks, the two unwed teens express their love to one another…passionately…horizontally…in a bed. By this point, the (emotionally fragile) audience is so manipulated by the story that they not only excuse the blatantly immoral activity but almost welcome it, expect it, as if the two young lovers deserve the pleasure of sex because of their unfair condition, regardless of whether it is right or wrong.
I know. I know. You think I don’t want you to see this movie because I think that you will rush out and sleep with the first guy who treats you well. I think more of you than that.
But here’s what I do fear: compromise. I fear that in order to see this film you will have to suspend your convictions and what you know to be right.
I fear that, while it may be difficult to suspend your convictions this time, it will be less difficult next, and the next. I fear for you a slow descent in to captivity to sin, because this is how captivity to sin happens. Repetitive compromise, de-sensitivity, willing participation.
I know some of what lies ahead for you. I know that while you haven’t experienced much in the way of temptation, sexual or otherwise, you will. It’s coming. And when it comes, it will come with a vengeance. And when you face temptation, what I want for you is the ability to resist. What you practice NOW when the stakes are small is what will prepare you to accomplish THEN when the stakes are huge.
My love, don’t rehearse compromise, because if there is one thing I know, compromise always has a cost.
So while you are mine, even if it means I have to make you cry, no, you cannot go see that movie.