Letters to My Girls: On Dating, Marriage, & Men



I know it's crazy, but there will come a day when you will like boys. Right now, there are only 3 men in your life that you adore: Your daddy, G-daddy, and Papaw. And I'd like to keep it that way for a while, but I know that this is only for a season. So I'm offering you some sweet words of advice now, because when you actually get to the season when you like boys, I'm guessing my advice will be less than welcome. So I'm hoping that by starting early... some of it will stick. 

Girls, let me tell you a hint. The type of guy you're looking for is rare, but you are fortunate enough to live with one of them. Your daddy is one of the best; don't ever take this for granted. The reality that you have been loved unconditionally by your father is a gift and it is rare. And although it happens so naturally that it's just like breathing air, there are girls all around us who have not been given this. Baby girls, don't let this precious gift go to waste. Don't let Satan harden your heart to the safe place you've been given. Let this gift point you to the giver of good gifts & allow it to help you when looking for a guy to date/marry.

I'm not going to give you a super long list of characteristics like "Tall, Good-looking, Athletic, Adventurous, good listener, etc." because honestly, although those things might actually attract you to someone... they aren't the things that make a marriage work. Trust me on that one. I can tell you stories about how I sought out other things on my "list" and how it always led to emptiness & heartache. So instead, let me give you a few guidelines... the non-negotiables in a partner for life, and I think if you look right under your nose... you'll see what I'm talking about.

  • He has got to love Jesus more than life itself. Let me clarify. This doesn't mean he's some weirdo running around with 12 WWJD bracelets on each arm and a HORRIBLE t-shirt that has a picture of empty smoking shoes and some corny slogan about being left behind (Lord willing you'll have to google that to figure out what that means... Heaven help us if either of those items make a comeback). You want a guy who doesn't just claim to be a Christian. Wait for the guy who understands that his life is in the hands of God and every thing he does is for God's glory. You might wonder why this is SO important. But if you choose to live a life in pursuit of loving God, it is crucial to find a mate who does so as well. You can both have different expressions of this endeavor, but when the storms come (and come they will at some point), you both have to have the same anchor or your ship will sink. In the hard moments of our marriage, our common bond in loving Jesus and understanding that our life is not ALL about us is what really helped us get through the valleys.


  • Grab the humble servant. You see that good-looking guy who loves the spotlight and thinks the world revolves around him? Run. Run as fast and as far as you can. And if he's using Christ as a means to make his own name known, run even faster. Sweet girls, these guys are EVERYWHERE. And don't get me wrong, they're fun for a season, but it always ends in heartache. We all struggle with thinking the world revolves around us! But when you marry a person who isn't struggling and instead they're just completely giving into selfish thoughts and actions, well you end up as arm candy... just a side character in a show that revolves around him. You'll inevitably have a crush on him... because he's bound to be good looking and charming, but please just leave it at that. BUT... You see that guy who stays late after church to help clean up? The guy who actually asks about how YOU are doing and then listens, and then the next week he follows up and asks another GOOD question (again, because he LISTENED to you)? The guy who is serving in your local church faithfully without recognition? The guy who all the married women are saying is a gem but all the single girls think he's just not quite hip enough for them? SNAG HIM. Trust me, you can change the shoes he wears later... I'm not even kidding. Or better yet, you'll grow and learn to NOT CARE what shoes he wears! Don't get me wrong, attraction is important. But so many times we women don't even allow ourselves to be open to being attracted to certain guys because they don't fit a "cool" stereotype. Look beyond the flash and attraction and go for quality. Your dad is a hottie. Make no mistake about that... I'm 110% attracted to him (are you cringing yet?)... but the things that attracted me to him most were things like... He babysat for his married friends (FOR FREE) and actually LIKED doing so (more than me!). He was and still is ALWAYS the last person out of the building because he genuinely cared about talking to EVERYONE. It brings him joy to serve and encourage others. He's by no means perfect... and if you do get married and have false illusions about your dad & expect your new husband to live up to what will hopefully be decades of marriage, I'll gladly burst your bubble. But for real, date the guy who loves others more than himself. Give your heart a chance to become attracted to him, because years down the road you'll still be madly in love with the guy who is serving his church, family, & marriage faithfully.


  • Pick a guy who isn't afraid to say "I'm Sorry." If you're in a relationship, and your boyfriend never genuinely repents and says "I'm sorry." Get out. Like yesterday. And note the wording, "genuinely repents." I'm not talking about a flippant "I said I'm sorry, you're going to have to get over it now." If it doesn't grieve him that he's hurt you now... It's not going to grieve him that he's hurt you when you're married. And let me tell you something, there is no greater picture of the Gospel that we can give each other by confessing our sin when we've wronged each other and offering genuine unconditional forgiveness. This will change your relationship and point you both to love Jesus more. (And side note... you need to say you're sorry too. Practice now with your sister and future siblings... and practice with me and your dad. It'll serve your future relationships well). 


  • The guy you want to date/marry looks at, talks to, and treats women with dignity and respect. My babies, I could write a novel on this one. But I won't. Listen to me though, you are beautiful. And you have no need to find your worth, your beauty, in anything other than Christ. But let's be honest, we're women, and often we look to men to affirm things that they have no business defining. Yes, you want a man who tells you that you're beautiful, but there is a fine line between a male respectfully recognizing your beauty and a man who treats your beauty like a commodity, his for the taking. Your beauty was not given to you for some selfish, undisciplined boy's enjoyment. If a guy looks at you (or other women) like you're a piece of meat. RUN.  If he treats you like you're a piece of meat. Run. If he talks to you poorly or talks to his mom or sisters poorly... RUN far, far away. The man you want treats all women with respect. He looks your parents in the eye and engages us in conversation, not to impress us, but because he respects us. He treats his mother and sisters well. His eyes don't linger uncomfortably in places they shouldn't. And let me tell you something, our men need grace upon grace in this area... but my daughters, in choosing a life partner you will do wisely to choose a man who honors women and honors you. There is grace for failure, but if at the core you sense that he does not honor you or other women, this is not a man you want to do "forever" with.  

Baby girls, one final piece of advice. Every relationship you have needs to be sprinkled with grace. No man is perfect. Your dad is not perfect. I am not perfect... (stop snickering). And I believe that the ingredient that really makes a the Christian life flavorful is grace. I'm hesitant to say that now for fear of the boy you bring home at 16 and you throw the "grace" card at me. But I think when it's time, you'll understand what I mean. I believe it was Elisabeth Elliot who said something to the affect of  "that preparing for marriage is not so much a matter of finding the right person as it is becoming the right person." Be gracious women of God, baby girls. So although this post isn't one about you per say, I pray that the good things mentioned above will also be said of you as well. More than grandbabies or a great son-in-law... it is my desire to see you live lives that honor your heavenly Father.

I know that whether singleness or marriage lies at the end of your journey, at some point you will be distracted by boys. Live wisely baby girls. Choose wisely. Because in these moments, one flippant bad decision can change your life forever. It can make the road you walk much more difficult. And although I know that no matter WHAT we do to "choose wisely," difficult moments will still come and God is still sovereign. But as your mom, I want nothing more than the men that you allow into your life to be men who honor God, by honoring you and for you to honor God and them as well.

We'll have more of these chats over the next few decades. This is just the first of many. But I hope that when you do read this, you'll know that even now, as you can't speak a full sentence... I'm praying for you. I'm praying for the decisions you'll make. I'm praying for God's protection on your life and relationships, and I'm praying that the men God allows to cross your path will be men who point you to Him. 

You are loved baby girls... 

Your mama.