It has been on my heart since I was still young enough to be called a "girl" myself; just how do we leave girlhood to enter into womanhood with all our dreams and values alive and intact?
Somehow the journey gets cluttered with pot holes and traps that can catch us off guard. When we aren't looking, small bits of those values can slowly be snatched away. In some cases, what we have believed for years can be tested and strained in a moment when we are faced with the difficult choices young girls face each day.
When I was 12, I "dated" a boy. It was my very first experience having a boyfriend, and I wasn't sure what that would mean. As it turned out, it meant that for four months we called each other "boyfriend" and "girlfriend", and for more days than not we held hands to walk home from school.
After a while, we had some friends who wanted us to kiss. Apparently, "going steady" for several months without kissing was breaking some sort of unwritten elementary school dating law. I, on the other hand, wasn't sure I wanted to start that whole part of dating yet.
Lucky for me my friends made it an easy choice for me. The place they decided to get us together to kiss was on the side of my friend's house, and her house sat directly across the street from my house. So, should my mother happen to look out the window, she would easily be witness to this delicate event, and I was having NONE of that possibility.
Not kissing didn't stop me from thinking seriously about that first boyfriend. At night sometimes I'd ponder whether or not he would be the man I'd marry. Then, I'd burst into tears at the thought that he might NOT be my future husband. I cried because that would bring an end to my dream to date and marry only ONE man.
Turned out that he was not "the one". In fact, he began a total of a 16 years of dating period for me. But I clung to the innocence of that first dating experience for many years afterward. I wish we could all have such a purely innocent introduction into the big and sometimes crazy world of dating.
And that brings me to my purpose in writing to you. I'd like to share some of my insights to dating and even marriage with you girls.
With my letters, I hope to inspire you to construct your own bridge. A bridge that will be sturdy, strong and stable. A bridge that can safely take you from girlhood to womanhood because you'll need a place to cross where you can take all your values with you. That journey can sometimes be a treacherous one. Instead of finding you clinging to the rocks of despair or desperation as you try to shimmy across, I'd like to find you walking with dignity, holding on tightly to the values and beliefs you have spent your whole childhood growing.
I want to encourage you to make that cross over without losing all the fortitude you will surely need when you get to the other side. Let's not settle for the possible heartbreak of giving up on any of your values. Won't it be great to arrive at the beginning of your adult journey with all your youthful hopes, aspirations, values and beliefs in tact.
I prayerfully dedicate the first of these letters to you, the young girls of today and the young women of tomorrow. May you find peace along your road to adulthood.
Here's to many blessings on the journey,