Any time I write about motherhood and raising daughters, I don’t do it from a place of expertise of being a mother. After all, my daughter is only two years old. Instead I write from a place of being a daughter and what I wish I had experienced as a young woman.
My experience going off to college was like most young women’s, I suspect. I coordinated with my new roommate about who would bring what, and my mom and I shopped for new bedding and linens. My parents drove to my new campus and helped me move in. There were hugs and maybe some tears. Then they left. I navigated through my first days of sorority rush, college professors, and communal bathrooms.
That’s pretty much it.
I don’t remember my mom telling me what to expect in college. To be fair, maybe that’s because my mom didn’t go to college. I don’t know.
But I do remember feeling isolated and lost those first several months, and looking back, severely insecure the remaining four years.
From now until my daughter goes to college, I pray I become wiser and have more to share with her than I do now, but if she were leaving for college now, this is what I would tell her.
1. You’ll be more respected for being different than for being the same.
It’s funny how even though young people desire to be different, they often end up like everyone else. They spend time being different from their parents, different from the mainstream, different in their appearance, different in their speech, and yet they end up all the same. It’s as if they fear what they desperately want.
For a Christian young woman, being different is even scarier, especially being different in college. Being different sometimes means being alone or being isolated from your peers in a place where you’re already isolated from your home.
True, authentic, surrendered Christianity is not normal in today’s culture. It’s certainly not normal on most liberal-minded college campuses. However, that’s not a reason to run and hide. Instead, it’s an opportunity to be different for a cause greater than yourself – for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Whether people recognize it or admit it, everyone has a heart that yearns for Jesus. By being different as a disciple of Jesus, you are attracting others to yourself which in turn attracts them to Jesus. People will look up to you, and respect you, for going against the status quo.
Sure, this may not come immediately. There may be some ridicule and lonely nights, but people value authenticity over superficiality. When they see that you are strong in who you are, they will want to know more about you, even if they don’t agree with you.
2. The decisions you make in the next four years have the potential for changing the rest of your life for either bad or good.
This is nothing new. I’m sure you’ve heard this wisdom throughout your high school career, too. We often think about the big life choices that can change our lives forever – premarital sex leading to unwanted pregnancy, alcohol leading to addiction, or failing grades leading to not graduating.
However, there are other decisions you can make that are less dramatic but still leave you with lasting consequences.
Every guy you date, and every guy you go too far with physically while dating him, you will remember. Memories of your dating relationships will creep up in your mind at the most inopportune times. Depending on how deep the past relationship, you could struggle with insecurity and trust issues far into your adult life. Recently I read pastor Andy Stanley mention in his new book The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating that most regrets have to do with past relationships.
Then there’s the night you drink too much at a party, or perhaps even get into a car and drive after drinking. You never know how past decisions will come back around years later and affect your goals.
On the other hand, there are many decisions you can make that will change your life for good. For example, staying sexually pure will allow you to experience all God intends for you in marriage. It will also leave a strong legacy for your children and spare you from heartache.
Also, taking advantage of every opportunity to get involved, travel, and go where God leads can open doors in ways you can’t see right now.
3. Your mother is a sinner, and she has made many mistakes. So will you. But there is nothing you can do to make her or Jesus stop loving you. Nothing.
You will mess up. You will sin. The enemy wants to take your sin and lead you down a life of shame and regret. Don’t let him have that foothold in your life.
Sometimes mothers have a hard time admitting their past sins to their daughters in fear that they in some way condone the behavior or that their daughter will think of it as a free pass to commit the same sin. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and it’s pride at its worse – a strategy Satan uses to keep families in bondage.
You need to know your mother’s past sins so that you may also know the redeeming work of Jesus, how Jesus changed her life, and the reasons why she wants better for you.
Moms, telling your daughter your past sins will build trust in your relationship with her so that when she sins, and she will sin, she feels safe coming to you. She will know that she can trust you and that you still love her.
Because, you see, if your daughter has a hard time believing you love her in her sin, then she’ll have a hard time believing that God loves her in her sin.
For more on talking to your daughter about your sinful past, see the recent podcast by John Piper here “How Much of My Sinful Past Should I Tell My Children?“