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    Be Brave

    A letter to my daughter. May 8, 2020 by Captain Laura Van Schaick
    Filed Under:
    Feature, Women's Ministries
    Cpt Laura Van Schaick with her daughter Vanessa
    Cpt Laura Van Schaick with her daughter Vanessa
    From the moment I knew I was going to be a mommy, I have celebrated you. Over the six years of your life, I have watched you shine with confidence.

    At age one you learned to walk, and I celebrated each step you took in between diaper-padded falls. With determination you pulled yourself up each time. A failed attempt didn’t hold you back.

    By age two you were dressing yourself, and I celebrated your independence. You still have your own unique sense of fashion; with contrasting colours and princess dresses, yours is a style that is all you.

    At age three you asked to sing in church, and I celebrated your boldness. Accompanied by Daddy strumming on the guitar, you bravely sang Jesus Loves Me off-key in a room filled with adults, but an audience of One.

    You were four when we visited Disney World, where you wielded a light sabre and defeated Darth Vader. You exclaimed “I did it!” as you vibrated with adrenaline (and perhaps a bit of fear) and I celebrated your adventurous spirit.

    At age five you were the youngest to participate in your school’s talent show, and I celebrated your achievement.

    Now, at age six, I see leadership potential in you. I have seen you welcome newcomers while being a newcomer yourself. I have seen you speak up to teachers and stand up for the marginalized. I celebrate the brave way you use your voice and the way you care deeply for others.
    But a few weeks ago, you said something that broke my heart.

    You had been diligently working on a project. When you felt it was complete, you came over to share what you had accomplished, exclaiming with bright eyes, “It turned out pretty good, for a girl.”

    Captain Laura Van Schaick holds her daughters hands, dancingCpt Laura Van Schaick dances with her daughter, Vanessa, at her sister's wedding in 2018
    For a girl.

    I know the statistics. According to Ellen Duffield, author of The Brave Way, by age six girls in the West have already been socialized to believe that boys have the potential to be smarter than girls. By age seven, many girls believe they are valued more for their looks than their character. I knew this was the norm. I just didn’t think it would ever apply to you.

    I’ve raised you to know that you are capable and strong. I’ve raised you as an equal to your brother, to know that you are both made in the image of God and deeply loved as his children. I’ve parented by example, emphasizing that your daddy and I are equals in the household and in life. I’ve preached and led and used my voice in your presence countless times.

    And still, you have become a statistic. You feel you are doing well “for a girl.” This is not OK.

    I want you to know that you are worth just as much as any boy. That you are capable of doing anything you put your mind to, that you are smart and that your voice matters. I want you to know that what you say, how you act and the decisions you make are more important than how you look. I want you to be confident and bold. I don’t want failure to hold you back—we all fail sometimes—but rather for you to learn from your mistakes and to persevere.

    My dear girl, you live in a world of stereotypes and judgments, and I recognize that this comes at a cost. I want you to know that I am not living in ignorance anymore. I thought you were immune to becoming another statistic. You are not. But I want you to know it isn’t your fault.

    As your mother, and as a woman, I commit to encouraging you to be brave. I commit to reminding you every day that you are valuable and that you are enough. I commit to pushing you to take risks and to step outside of your comfort zone. I commit to complimenting you on more than your looks. I commit to modelling for you what it means to be brave in a world that is often still destructive for women and girls.

    On most Sunday mornings, as the worship team begins to play, you make your way to the platform and begin to dance. In these moments I see the free, confident, self-assured girl I know you to be. I see you embracing your identity as a beloved daughter of God, and it gives me such joy. My prayer for you is that you would continue to dance. Dance before the Lord in worship, and dance through life—not because no one is watching, but because someone is, and they might just be inspired by you.

    Captain Laura Van Schaick is the women’s ministries program and resource officer.

    Comment

    On Sunday, May 17, 2020, Dani said:

    Laura, this is one of the most beautiful, brilliant and disturbing pieces I have read in a long time. First, you are a great writer! Second, you are clearly an amazing mom, who is leading by example, encouraging your daughter to be her bravest, strongest, most free self. Third, thank you for recognizing that even in 2020, girls and women will still struggle. Inspired by the movie, The Help, my husband has a bedtime routine with our 6 year old daughter that ends with the words, "You are smart, you are strong, you are important" followed by the words, "You are persistent!" Like you, he recognizes the importance of persistence and perseverance for all people, but especially for girls.

     

    On Saturday, May 16, 2020, Anita Kennedy said:

    Well written and truthful. We as mothers want our girls to be whatever they want, and can be. Sadly society puts theses barriers up for girls and we just have to pray they change and our daughters grow to be bold,strong warriors in society and for Jesus.

     

    On Monday, May 11, 2020, Zoe Leslie said:

    Such a well written, thoughtful, insightful and inspiring article. Thank you for sharing your daughter's experience and your loving response!

     

    On Monday, May 11, 2020, Reenie Murphy said:

    First of all your daughter is amazing. I agree wholeheartedly in everything you said. With you leading the way with Gods help your daughter will be an amazing individual!! Of this I have no doubt! 💕💕

     

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