Thrive – A Beautiful Reminder We All Need To Hear
A beautiful reminder we all need to hear… from the heart of this year’s banquet speaker, Melinda Clark.
She’s only three. She twirls in her new dress and looks up, looks for approval. “Am I cute?” I smile. And choose my words carefully. “I love to watch you twirl. You have so much energy. And your smile is wonderful. You are amazing.”
She’s sixteen. She doesn’t twirl. She fidgets with her scarf, trying to make it fall just so. She pulls her sweater down, hoping to readjust the shape. She flicks at her makeup. “Do I look okay?” I smile. And still choose my words carefully. “I love the way your eyes sparkle. Your smile is contagious. You are amazing.”
My heart sighs for the weight they already carry. Wondering if the way they look is good enough. The weight of wondering if they’re *enough* for everyone around them. That nameless, faceless “everyone” that has such expectations for girls growing up in today’s world. They already feel the need to know if others approve. If they’ve passed the test.
So I affirm that they are more. More than the sum of their parts. More than what shows up on the outside. More than what they accomplish. More than what they can produce. More than what “everyone” is wearing today. More than whether or not guys’ eyes light up and linger. Everything that matters most about them shows up in the ways their eyes dance, their smiles dance, their feet hop. They matter simply because they do.
I want them to know this, for their hearts to be convinced of their incredible beauty. Because I also know that one third of girls are in an abusive relationship during high school. And that almost ten percent of girls said that the first time they had sex, they “didn’t want it to happen.” I know that many girls keep having sex, not because they want it, but because they think that “at least for that moment, I matter to someone.” And if two lines show up on a pregnancy test, that positive result is the least positive thing that has ever happened to them because they simply do not know how to handle an event that they think will reduce them to nothing more than a statistic.
So I want these girls, and every girl in Collage’s communities, to know that they are more. They are more than just the next sexual partner. More than a set of reproductive organs waiting for a guy to take notice. That they are worthy of a relationship where their boundaries are respected. Where their values are affirmed. Where their stories matter. Their stories deserve to be written. They are a glorious, breath-taking jumble of dreams, skills, memories, relationships, hopes, strengths, fears, and everything that makes them unique. And incredibly valuable. They have the right to choose when and with whom to have sex. And they are wise to put off having sex, no matter what anyone else tells them. And I want you–their neighbors, teachers, friends, mentors, parents, and grandparents–to have words to speak that will fill up empty places and fill them so full that they can’t help but thrive. I want you to see how essential you are to the young women in your life so that you step into the places that will otherwise feel less than full.
Girls all around us need to know this. And if you are the one who needs to hear it, hear me say it soft and firm, “You are amazing.” Join me at Collage’s banquet. Let’s talk and dream and partner together to position women–and the men around them–to thrive as the glorious human beings they are intended to be.
Both events are reserved seating only, so please call soon to save your spot. For the Kearney banquet, call 308.236.9248 by April 13. And for the Grand Island banquet, call 308.675.2217 by April 17.