Sorting, packing (and sometimes tossing) almost 28 years worth of things in the attic, I come across a box of memorabilia  from high school, college and my year backpacking through Europe.  I read the letters and cards I’ve kept, bringing smiles to my face and often laugh aloud, look at the pictures and remember. 

The journals evince all the joys, trials and angst of a 13 to 21-year-old tomboy turning into a young woman.  But even more, I realize they record going from a loving, Christian, conservative home to a Lutheran high school and college, where even the most wild things would scarcely cause a ripple elsewhere, to Europe in the 70’s…and staying Christian and conservative while having a fabulous time on a dream trip, meeting all sorts of people and making many friends.  I feel like redacting some of what I read, not because of scurrilous or titillating lines, but from eye-rolling chagrin at the feelings of my younger self.

But one thing I recall quite clearly about those times as I sit in the dusty attic, swimming through a flood of memories; something I want to say to my daughters as they go out in the world where their values are not those of many people they meet; something I learned especially as I traveled in Europe and after I returned to the States and moved into post-college life.  It may be something you would want to tell your daughters or it may not.  But I believe it with all my heart.

There will be plenty of men who find you interesting and will want to sleep with you.  They will have all sorts of reasons for wanting to to do so. Some will be true, others not. Some will sound wonderful and convincing; some they will even believe.  They’ll tell you that sex is wonderful (it certainly is or can be) and all sorts of other things.  But the truth is that you are the most precious gift of all and sleeping with someone is giving the most intimate and personal part of that precious gift to whomever you sleep with, the gift of all of you.  You can really only do that once and then it becomes something you’ve already given to someone else first.  The first time for anything happens only once.  I believe it’s a gift worth saving until you get married.

What I found, in all those and subsequent years and places, is that the men who are worth something are those who, once you explain why you won’t sleep with them, respect that and respect you for acting on and living your beliefs and who will continue to like you and want to be around you.  The ones who just want sex may try to cajole you, make make fun of you or even revile you.  These men are showing their worth, or lack of it, not yours.  And they can find what they want in many places.  They don’t need you.  They don’t need or want your respect.   But you need to be able to respect yourself.

That’s it. It’s counter-intuitive; it’s certainly counter-cultural. Lots of good things are.  I don’t dislike, hate, or mock anyone who doesn’t believe this or does but hasn’t been able to do it.  I know many don’t believe it matters.  I say, as Ripley said, “Believe it…or not.”  It’s still one of the things what I want to say to my daughters.  And if you, my dear daughters, don’t know if it’s worth it, just ask your dad.

Comments
  1. I agree! “Beautifully said!” 🙂

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