Key To Her Heart
Shortly after my oldest daughter had her first period I instituted a new tradition in our family. I believe that rather than avoiding the issue of menstruation, fathers can help their daughters understand the incredible creation of God by celebrating these passages of life. So I invited my daughter out on a date.
I take my daughters out for dates from time to time and have other opportunities to share with them in one-on-one situations. But I wanted this to be different. This wasn't going to be a hamburger date. I called a very nice local restaurant and made reservations for 2 in a corner table. My wife helped Joi get all dolled up and I came calling. She was gorgeous.
At the restaurant we enjoyed a scrumptious meal with all the trimmings. We laughed and talked about all sorts of things. As the meal came to an end we began to talk about more serious things. We talked about what this change in her life would mean, the beauty of God's creation and how awesome being a woman is. I also shared with her that just as her changing body and emotions were affecting her, they would also affect boys around her. I encouraged her to maintain, not just her virginity, but her purity. It was a sweet time of sharing.
Then I brought out a gift I had bought for her. It was a necklace with a heart pendant. The heart looked similar to a padlock and it had a keyhole in the middle along with a matching key. I told her I was giving her this heart to represent her womanhood and her purity. And I told her that I would keep the key, as a reminder to me and to her that I had the responsibility to guard her heart until she was ready to give it to another man. On her wedding day I will give the key to her husband, entrusting him to guard her heart from that day forward.
I shared with her a covenant that I had drawn up that outlined her responsibilities and mine towards each other, especially in light of her future husband. We read through it together:
After talking about each point we both signed the covenant. (Lori signed it later.) I then shared my heart with her about several areas. We talked about the fact that her body was capable of having a baby but her emotions and maturity were not. We discussed the effects that hormones had on the body and the mind, how they pulled and pushed and screamed for attention and how important it was to maintain self-control in this area. We talked about the kinds of attention guys give girls. I talked about how guys her age were also going through incredible change in their own bodies and emotions and what a volatile mix it is to put guys and girls together without restraints.
In the midst of all this sharing I told her something that had a deep impact on her. I thought a lot about this before I said it to her, wanting to make sure I was saying the right thing and not setting her up for failure. But it was obvious that the impact it had on her was much deeper than I anticipated and much more positive. I told her that my desire for her was that the first man she give herself to would be her husband on her wedding night. This is something she and he would value forever and would have incredible impact on their lives. There is only one "first time" and you can only share that with one person. These things she already knew and she knows how important this is to me for her.
Then I shared that even if she didn't make that goal, that if she lacked the self-control to keep herself pure or that if she ever had to come to me and utter those words no father wants to hear before his daughter's married ("Daddy, I'm pregnant"), that I would not love her any less. I would be disappointed, yes. I would be sad for her. But I would still love her with all my heart. I told her my love for her is not conditional. It's not based on behavior or standards or meeting my expectations. That's not how I love her. I loved her long before she could ever please me and I will love her forever. I wanted her to know that my love was not based on conditions. Even if she failed in this important area, I would always love her.
She wept as I shared this with her. I know she has no intentions of ever letting me down. But I could sense the relief that came over her as she relished her father's unconditional love. It was as if she understood for the first time, or perhaps more fully, that her daddy loved her no matter what. It was a significant moment for both of us.
It was important for me to share this with her. I definitely don't want her to have the attitude of "My daddy will love me no matter what so it doesn't matter what I do." But I also don't want her to ever doubt my love or to ever question my love or look for unconditional love elsewhere. I want her to have the assurance of daddy's unwavering love throughout her life. Will there be consequences of wrong actions? Absolutely. But the love's always there.
This is how my heavenly Father loves me. I know I disappoint Him often. I let Him down and hurt His heart. But He never stops loving me. There are always consequences to my actions. A price is always paid. But how great is His love for me! It's the knowledge of that love that brings me back to Him when I've strayed, that causes me to repent when I've sinned and encourages me to continue doing well. I want my daughter to have that same sense of her earthly father's love. And if she will understand that her earthly father loves her that much, perhaps she'll get a glimpse of how much her Heavenly Father loves her.
I hold the key to my daughter's heart. One day she will ask me to give that key to another man. May God help me faithfully guard her heart until that day. And may he take it as seriously as I do.
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