There's been a major dilemma at our house this summer.
Our teenage daughter wanted a bikini.
To be honest, it took me completely by surprise. She's never been a clothes hound and has always been pretty modest. She buys her shirts a size or two bigger so they aren't so tight. She's always turned her nose at skimpy clothes, giving them a "gross."
And she's always followed the rules...to the letter. She's the one I can trust to be completely honest and trustworthy and has never given me reason to doubt her.
Until she happened to borrow a bikini at a friend's house so she could get in a hot tub.
"Mom, don't worry, it was only girls in the hot tub and when the boys came out we stayed under water. When we got out, we wrapped our towels around us so they couldn't see anything."
"Mmm hmm, well you know what I think about that."
"Yeah...but...I finally looked okay in one."
And then the following week, she came home from the lake with a bad sunburn on her lower back.
"How'd you get sunburned there? Doesn't your suit cover that?"
"Well, I borrowed one of my friend's suits."
"Yeah...but...well my suit doesn't fit so well anymore."
Then she was leaving to go on another swimming outing with friends when I noticed she didn't have ANY suit with her.
"Where's your suit?"
"I can just borrow one from somebody."
Uh huh. You see what was happening here? I was losing my trust in her over a swim suit.
We set a date to go shopping the next morning. I tried to be open-minded and give it a chance, but the first three suits she put on produced an immediate, "No" out of me. Many suits later she was still hearing "Absolutely not" or "No way". Then came the tears, lots of them, uncharacteristic for this girl. We had words and friction and utter frustration. We left that store and tried another, only to experience the same problem.
We were at a complete standstill everywhere we went. She tried some suits I picked out, but didn't like any of them and I hated everything she liked. We tried to see each other's point of view. We tried to compromise--me saying she could try the bikinis that had more than a string holding them on, her saying she'd wear shorts over the bottoms to cover more. I understood how she felt and she knew where I was coming from, yet there was no agreement in sight.
As I looked at her teary eyes pleading with mine I wondered if a bikini was such a big deal. I worried that letting her a get one was going to cross some sort of line I could never go back to, but then I remembered who she is. She has always been a really good kid. She wants to do what's right. She works hard to keep her mama happy. She makes good choices in friends and handles herself responsibly. I imagined her at the lake and hated the thought of her feeling self-conscious or dorky in a suit she hated. She had already passed on a swimming event that week because she didn't have anything she felt comfortable wearing.
But what really plagued me was how other people would react to it. I dreaded what others might think of me allowing her to wear something I was not at all crazy about. Would they think I was a sell out?
I had to ask myself some tough questions. Which is more important, your daughter or what other people might think? Do you want to push it and make her buy a suit she hates, giving her an opportunity to "borrow" behind your back and destroy the trust you've built? Is this an issue of modesty or of your own pride? Should you be worried about the reflection on your parenting or your relationship with your daughter?
I still don't like it, but I let her get a bikini. I know others will think I caved. That's okay. Though man may only see the outward reflection of who I am (via my bikini-clad daughter), though they may think me worldly, God will see my heart. He will know my intent, giving up this battle to win the war and maintain a good relationship with an amazing teenager.
“When we are set free from the bondage of pleasing others, when we are free from currying others approval-then no one will be able to make us miserable or dissatisfied. And then, if we know we have pleased God, contentment will be our consolation.
Lord, help me release myself of the expectations of others. It is a lifelong battle that plagues me and can dishonor You. Give me wisdom to do what is right and pleasing to You alone.
To read more impressions of this quote, visit Denise at Shorty Bear's Place.