Today in church we had the pleasure of having our 11 week old daughter, Hannah Grace, dedicated to the church.
When she is old enough to decide on her own, it is our hope that she will want to be baptized. That will be her choice to make. What we did today in dedicating her to the church is to publically declare that we will try to raise her to know the love of God and to ask the church to help us in raising our girl toward a life of faith and integrity in a world where integrity is easier to give away than keep.
As a parent, I want my children to be involved in their choices of how they choose to view the world and if and when they choose to dedicate their life to trying to follow In His Steps. In raising my children, I believe if I want them to be good people, they need genuine choice and the chance to explore and seek their own answers in a safe and supported way. As a family, we feel great security and warmth in having a church family dedicate themselves to helping us raise our children well. There is a beauty knowing you have thoughtful and caring people who want to help your child, who want to be supportive, and will remember your child’s name with a tinge of duty to care and interact. I don’t feel the need to make Hannah’s choices for her or force her to think of church in the way I do, but I certainly don’t mind acting purposefully to give my daughter the support of a caring community. Our church friends will be a blessing for her.
I choose some verses for Hannah, some verses that I as a mother hope my daughter one day comes to value.
Our children, Eli and Hannah, are named after people in the same book of the Bible, the book of Samuel. “Hannah’s Prayer” in 1 Samuel 2:1-2 embodies an ethos I hope one day my daughter yearns for. It reads “Then Hannah prayed and said: ‘My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance. There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.'”
I hope Hannah grows to rejoice in the Lord, to view the Father as a comfort and source of strength. I hope she delights in the deliverance of the Lord and knows from where her grace was given. May she grow to know God as unique in holiness, a Rock of faith and fortitude like no other.
The second verse I picked for Hannah’s dedication is in Proverbs 31:25. I sigh to think of the difficulties a young girl raised to her teens in the 2020s will face to find and hold her virtue. Social media’s visual emphasis makes it feel extra rewarding to gain attention through revealing more than concealing. The desire for “likes” in one way or another can make it feel more gratifying to please the social media user than to strive for the virtues of moral character.
The verse I picked for Hannah reads “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”
I hope my young girl values dignity, that she isn’t afraid to be a woman of strength. Honestly, I hope she views her clothes themselves as something like the armor of God – that her wardrobe should reflect a self image grounded in faith that dignity is worth more than turning heads. If I succeed in raising my daughter in the way I will strive toward, she will have the confidence and positivity to look at days to come and know that the Lord will be her Rock and that she will be able to find joy and laughter even in hard situations.
A truth about the modern world – we have options, so many open doors, and in those options we have distractions and multiple paradigms pleading for our allegiance and efforts. My daughter is a digital native, and she will hear more different voices in her life because of the ease for one voice to reach another through the internet. This is beautiful and intimidating. There are many ways to lead a good life, but there are many enticing voices offering pleasure in trade for purpose – easy gratification in place of challenge. The world will tempt my daughter to accept good enough, to not worry about striving for virtue if she can settle for getting by, to fritter away seeking entertainment rather that to seek edification.
It’s hard to choose not to get lost in the drum of leveling up or advancing to the next Candy Crush level. It’s hard to turn off the TV and pick up the Good Book. In the modern world, why would I put down something built to send pleasant chemicals to my brain as I click in a way that makes me feel I earned it? I hope my daughter can answer that question.
I hope she knows the value of joy found in the Lord is greater than the joy found in media. I hope it is in the Lord that she finds value in her accomplishments. And I hope she knows that there are certain needs she can only find fulfilled in God.
I named my daughter with two names that mean the same thing. Hannah means “full of grace” and Grace means “grace.” I hope one day she knows why I did that. It is hard to strive toward integrity and dignity in the modern world, and it’s hard to avoid sin – in fact, impossible. I hope above all that my daughter grows to know that God’s grace is strong enough for her and that her Father in Heaven will always find her worthy of his grace. If I could give my daughter any one strength, it would be the strength to forgive herself and rely on Grace to carry forward.
God, may you lead my daughter to seek you in her heart. May you help her desire the strength of a virtuous woman. May she value dignity more than short term admiration, and seek to please her Lord more than any other man. And God, above all, may you lead my daughter to know your grace in such an intimate way that she has the security to forgive herself and the desire to love herself in the way You would have her loved. Amen.