Someday you will have babies of your own, oh I pray you do, and you will hold that squirmy, warm bundle of squishiness and love will flood into your heart and you will think that Jesus could just come already because you’ve done everything with your life that you need to do. That surely nothing can top this moment, so let’s just call it, shall we? You will find that love filling in empty places you never even knew you had. Grant and Peter did that for me and I fancied myself the mom of all boys; was sure you were the Jack Hendrik I’d been dreaming would join his brothers in their escapades. I figured I would probably never have girls and that would be ok; they were kind of too fussy for my taste anyway. Boy moms are so chill and I wanted to be so chill. And then you emerged and Dr. Cummiskey said, it’s a girl, and I felt right then like I had been waiting for you, for a daughter, my whole life. We used to say, I know what I know and I know what I think: everything’s better, better with pink. We’d wrap you up in that so soft pink blanket Nana brought to the hospital, all of us marveling at it’s softness, it’s pinkness. Now it’s lulu’s Black, so I owe you a blanket. We’d wrap you up and marvel at how perfect and soft and perfect you were. We needed you.
And now you’re 12 and you and I are heading out of town tonight for our Passport to Purity trip. Headed to three nights in a yurt at the Rolex Three Day Event in Kentucky and you can hardly wait. You’ve been dreaming of the horses and the fanfare and the sheer athleticism of this sport you adore. I have been dreaming of the way your eyes will sparkle when you watch, of how the sun will catch your hair and make it look like it’s made of spun gold, of snuggling in our bed at night and whispering ourselves to sleep. You’ve asked no fewer than four times if we can just hurry through the sex talk stuff so we can focus on the horses and I’ll do my best, but don’t rush me because this is so important. Nana took me to Russ’ for dinner, a restaurant that is host to epically bad food and phones you can order it on right from your booth. I can still picture her sitting across from me and I was mortified as you will be too, but now that I’m a mom, I know how very very valiant she was to do this. I want to be like that.
There will be times in the next four days when you will blush. You might wish the ground would swallow you up whole and drop you anywhere no one is talking about sex, but I want to be, need to be, the information super highway by which you get your facts. You might choose never to ask me a question about sex again for the rest of your life, even when questions are burning in your brain, but I need to know that I’ve opened the line on my end so you can always pick up on your end and ask. Anything and I will answer as honestly as I can and in a way you are ready for. Remember when you were little and we made telephones with tin cans and a string? For the rest of your life, I will have that tin can in my hands and will be listening for you. You just talk whenever you want. I’ll be there. Or say nothing at all and that’ll be ok too.
Tess, the instructions for this weekend call for a gift of a purity ring, but I’ve never loved being put in a box, so I did my own thing. The signet ring I had made for you is like my own. It has your initials engraved on it. Someday you will maybe get married and change your name (and your initials) and that’s ok. But you must never forget who you are, who you were created to be. You, my love, were created for purity. You were created to give yourself to your husband and him only. This is God’s perfect plan for you. There are wonderful things that wait for you when you are married, but only then. Your purity is a beautiful gift you will present to him on your wedding day and we pray that he will return it with his own purity. This is what God wills for you, but the world will tell you otherwise and it may tell you in a voice so loud that it drowns out God’s and you surrender to it. It may be that you lose your purity. If this happens, we will be sad for you and for your future husband, but it will not diminish you in our eyes or in God’s. There is nothing you can do, no step you can take that will change how much we totally adore you. Holding yourself to a higher standard is counter cultural. Lots of the people around you are just trying to do what feels good, but you were made for more than that. You were made for self-control and holding fast to the limits laid out for you in the pages of the Bible. Cling to your Father and listen for his voice always. Learn to shut out the voices that compete with His until your ears have become finely tuned. Know that He thought about how tempting sex would be and that he made provisions for you to handle it. Hopefully none of this applies to you for a long, long time, but when it does, you will have this letter in a safe place and it will help you remember that you are so much more than what you do with your body, but that what you do with your body…it matters. It matters now and it’ll matter later. You matter so much. To us and to the Father who knit you together in my body almost 13 years ago. You are the greatest gift and I pray you feel that always.
Dad and I want the following things for you:
We want you to fall head over heels in love with Jesus. This might happen on it’s own, organically, or it might be the outcome of some time of hurt and pain for you. We will be there.
We want you to lay down your life, to look for the lost, the poor, the sick, the weary and give them the very last shirt in your closet. You will find your life if you give it away. We will be there.
We want you to experience love beyond our family. The love of a husband and children and maybe even some grand babies in cowboy boots and smelling like the barn you will surely live near. The love of dear friends who know all your secrets and love you anyway. We will be there.
We want you to keep your body, your heart and your mind pure. To dedicate them to God and for the service of others. Nothing matters more. We will be there.
Notice that we don’t write that we want you to be happy or content. The truth is that sometimes you will and sometimes you won’t and that’s ok. You were never promised a rose garden and you will find that a little time being stuck in the thorns will help shape you into the person God wants you to be. We believe that if you follow hard after Jesus, you will find happiness and you will be content and that the world’s definition of both is so jacked up it doesn’t even bear writing about. Trust us on this: if you follow the verse “religion that our father finds good and pure is this: that you care for widows and orphans in their time of need and that you keep yourself from being polluted from the world” you will find happiness and contentment. We will be there.
Tessie Mama, you are my girl. I love everything about you. Let’s have an adventure together, shall we? I can hardly wait.