The 21st Century Princess: A COVID-19 Challenge

Hello, friends!

Goodness, it’s been a while. I sincerely hope all of you are doing well–please know that before I published this post, I prayed for all of you, and I’m still praying that whoever stumbles upon this post leaves feeling validated, refreshed, and loved, though I may not know you personally.

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Missing my princess days! Also, is Rapunzel not the best quarantine role model ever? 😛

So, allow me to give you a quick life recap–the same day I published our last post here on the blog, I transferred from an online school to a real, physical college–and I was scared. Absolutely petrified. I’m always one for being real, so I’ll go ahead and put it out there–I’m not great at making friends. I try my very hardest to be friendly, but I’m terrible about being a loner and not actively pursuing friendships, as extroverted as I am. I think it’s that doubtful part of me that assumes no one ever actually wants to hang out with me that stops me from pursuing friendships beyond that initial “reaching out” phase. Well, I had a feeling as I moved into my dorm for the first time that God was going to push me out of that cozy little loner comfort zone…

…and I was right.

I’ll say this, first–college is hard. It’s stressful. I can promise you that crying in the library at 11:30 pm does happen. As does stress eating of cafeteria french fries. As does that insanely scary feeling of trying to find a professor’s office for the first time to ask a question. College requires more effort that you ever thought possible. If you’re doing it right, it probably shouldn’t be easy.

And honestly–I expected those things.

What I didn’t expect, however, was that I would be thrown into classes and a dorm and an entire campus filled with wonderful people who would show me I can’t do everything on my own. I was shown that God can orchestrate the actions of you and those around you to weave an amazing network of fellow believers. I was shown that you should never compartmentalize yourself and think that you can only have a certain kind of people for friends.

I found friends in freshmen and seniors. I found friends in people in my major and in people whose career plans are the complete opposite of mine. I found friends in my professors. I found friends in random people in the hallways and people behind me in line at the cafeteria. I found friends in those who sat behind me in class, who I never would have dreamed could like me enough to want to sit with me at Starbucks until closing singing Disney songs. I was blessed with the most amazing roommate anyone could ask for, a sister in Christ who stayed up past 2 am with me many a night to simply fellowship and talk about the plans God has for our lives.

I never would have guessed that my new friends and I could make it into the school paper, or the school’s online, anonymous “crushes” page (don’t worry, it wasn’t weird, although it was hilarious).

I never would have guessed how much fellowship with other believers could grow me in my own faith, or how I could come out of my shell so much when it comes to worshipping in front of others. I’ll be real–until this January, I’d never had the courage to raise my hands during public worship. I know that probably sounds pathetic, but God grew me in so many ways this semester, and one of those ways was by encouraging me to not be so private about my faith.

Yes, college is stressful, but it’s also an incredible gift.

And then it ended.

I left on my merry way for spring break, with calls of “see you in a week!” echoing from professors and fellow students. As we all know, that didn’t happen. Covid-19 stopped plans of coming back in its tracks, and a week later I was moving out of my dorm half a semester early, without even the chance to say goodbye to my friends, several of whom were graduating seniors.

Now I’m fully online again, back to square one, as it would seem. I just finished up spring classes and in a few days I have summer ones starting. If you’re any kind of student and you’re reading this, I imagine you’re online now, too. My dad has been doing his work online, as I imagine many of you are, too. Zoom and Microsoft Teams now take the place of walking and driving to class or work. No in-person church services or extracurricular activities. No hugs from friends, classmates, and co-workers. Of course, this is the least we can sacrifice in order to flatten the curve and do our part, but quarantine feels weird, and I get that.

Actually, I have a kind of unique perspective on this situation, as my dad is a swim coach, and I get to overhear the responses from the kids he coaches when he has meetings with them via Zoom and asks how their day is going.

The top response?

“I’m kind of bored.”

As a former homeschooler, I can tell you that this word has been outlawed in my home since 1995. “Bored” wasn’t even in my or my brothers’ vocabulary–we were taught that there was always something to do, whether it be conventional schoolwork, a do-it-yourself-project, or helping others.

And yet, I totally get it that there’s something different going on here–the whole world is paralyzed. It isn’t that just a few people are bored–everyone is, all at the same time. That’s kind of a freaky feeling.

In my experience, however, being bored also causes people to think a little bit more. When the business of everyday life slows down to the point that we’ve scrolled on Instagram to our heart’s content, and our Netflix (or for some of us, Disney +) watch lists are suddenly dwindling, our minds start to drift to what’s really important.

When you lose the luxury of normal, daily life, you realize how cool it is. How much actually speaking to someone and seeing their face can lift your spirits. How physical fellowship with other believers is a gift straight from God. How simply running errands is so much fun.

So now, while everyone is so “bored” and realizing just how wonderful the activities of daily life are, I’d like to issue a challenge to you. I’m asking you to let this simmer in the back of your head for the next bit of time so that when the gates are thrown open and we can frolic in public to our heart’s content for the first time in forever, you’re ready for this challenge.

And no, this isn’t a social media challenge. I’m not asking you to post a selfie with a specific hashtag. In fact, part of the point of this challenge is kind of to do it on the down-low. Just like how Jesus said that we shouldn’t pray like hypocrites who do it “standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others” (Matthew 6:5), the point of this challenge is to do it sorta quietly–let your actions and your hearts and minds speak for themselves.

So, on to business.

I would like to challenge every single female out there, whether you’re in middle school or you’re a mom of three. Whether you’re a college student or a CEO. Whether you’re on top of the world or struggling with anxiety and depression. Whether you’re thriving or barely surviving.

I challenge you to be a princess.

Yeah, I know–that sounds cringy, but stay with me.

Seriously–when all of this is over–when you go back to normal life with shopping and working and classes and physical interactions with people beyond your immediate family–

I challenge you to change the way you see the world. To change the way you see yourself. To change the way you see the impact you can have. 

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Your attitude is like a pair of glasses–and you can change it out pretty easily. 

The fact, plain and simple, is that you have enormous potential for impact. Every single word that leaves your mouth has the potential to lift up others. I’m not asserting that everything you say has to sound like something a pastor would say in a sermon, but I am challenging you to reevaluate the power that your tongue has. It doesn’t have to be eloquent or profound, but it can be kind, light-hearted, silly, or loving. Seriously, you have no idea how many people are listening. Even if you think you couldn’t possibly be a role model for anyone, you probably are to at least a few people–so live up to that. Show the world how a princess should act and speak–it’s not a burden, it’s the freedom to be gorgeously classy and abandon the world’s frankly disgusting standards.

I’m challenging you to stop bullying yourself. Tough love here: we say a lot of things to ourselves (self-talk, anyone?) that we would never dream of saying to others. I’m pretty sure you would never walk up to your best friend and tell her that she’s ugly or dumb–so why the heck are you saying it to yourself? Honey child, you’re telling yourself lies straight from the enemy, and do you really want to let him win? Guilt and shame are not your friends, so don’t hold on to them as though they’re a cuddly teddy bear. When quarantine ends, I challenge you to go out into the world truly believing that God designed you in His image to be a joyful princess over the world He created. Stop comparing. Start living.

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With God in control, everything is going to be alright, so start actually living.

 

I’m challenging you to change the way you see the world around you. I know that in the midst of stress it’s easy to think that it’s a dark, terrible place, and to be totally honest, it 100% is. But there’s potential in some of the people living in it. There’s potential in your job. There’s potential in your class. There’s potential in the line to get coffee. If there’s one thing my half-semester of in-person college taught me, it’s that quite literally anyone has the potential to change your day, week, month, or life–and vice versa.

I’m challenging you to have unbridled joy. Life is simply too short to care what other people think. When you get ready to go out for the first time after quarantine, I want you to really think before getting dressed. A dress and heels for the grocery store? Power boots and a leather jacket for Home Depot? Victory rolls and an Edwardian choker for coffee? Do. It. If you’re going to impact like a princess, you might as well look like one. As my mother so eloquently coined, “Dress like you’re going somewhere, and you might.” Throw compliments around like confetti. Twirl in Target. Smile at strangers. Sing in the parking lot. Carpe the life out of that Diem.

Perhaps most importantly, I’m challenging you to live up to something one of my professors talked about this semester–the Dominion Mandate. It’s a common theological talking point, but it’s one that I don’t think we as average Christians think about enough. It essentially stems from Genesis 1:26-28, which says:

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

This doesn’t mean we should be aggressive with our behavior and subdue others in an antagonistic way; it means we should be leaders, confident that despite the fall and our sins, we have a special relationship with God. Take it from a biomedical sciences major,  we as humans are made differently from every other living creature, with unthinkably complex systems keeping us alive, and, you know, a soul. As those made in His image, we are stewards of this world God so intricately created–it might be a fallen world, but we still have the opportunity to honor Him through the way we live in it.

But realistically, what does having dominion look like for an average girl like me or you? How can a modern “princess” even exist in 2020? What does all of this even mean?

Well, first of all, it means not giving in to the world’s lies. Fight back against those feelings of insignificance and insufficiency. You are enough, my darling. Fight with all of your strength, and when you see those dark feelings in others, take up the sword of God and help them to fight, whether through encouraging them, praying over them, or speaking biblical truth into them.

Having dominion also means possessing a willingness to be different from the world. One of my favorite “tough love” verses in the entire Bible is John 15:18-19, where Jesus says to His disciples,

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

Earlier this semester, the head administrator of NASA (a fellow Christian) came to speak to the student body of my college, and he talked about how even in situations where you’re not allowed to speak about your faith, people will be able to tell that you’re different. They’ll be able to tell by the fruit of your actions and the way you treat others.

The thing is, though, in my own experience, people can react weirdly to that “different” factor.

I know this because I’ve been there–I’ve had countless jobs, classes, and social situations where I was treated like a naive child, a diva, or a jerk simply because of who I am. I’m not at all saying I’m perfect, but I generally have pretty solid standards about what I say, what I wear, what I watch, what I listen to, and how I act around boys…and some people can’t stand that. On a regular basis, I hear things like “oh, we have to protect Grace’s innocence” and “Grace can’t handle that” in eye-rolling tones.

And yet–the truly good people–the ones who are probably going to end up being your real, true friends, are the ones who are going to love the fact that you’re different. They’ll embrace your high standards. They won’t shame you because you don’t watch TV shows laced with graphic scenes just to see a “good story” or a “talented actor”. They won’t loudly apologize for cursing in front of you just to make sure everyone knows you’re the only one who isn’t super comfortable with it. They won’t laugh at you because you’re keeping yourself pure for marriage. In fact, they’ll applaud you for not compromising. They’ll understand that having high standards with your words, choices and actions isn’t a sign of weakness, and the choice to remain innocent doesn’t mean that you’re naive or incompetent, it means that you’re careful with the kind of content you’re injecting into your brain (hypodermic needle theory of communication, anyone?).

When it comes down to the wire, you’re going to discover pretty quickly who your fellow kings and queens are–they’re that special part of the world that doesn’t hate you because God chose them out of the world, too. They’re in this fight with you. Yeah, they’re hard to find, but that doesn’t mean they’re nonexistent.

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Matthew 7:14–“But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

So, since we’ve already established that our faith makes us different, here’s what I want to know (and yeah, this might seem kind of abstract, but stick with me):

Why try to minimize the fact that you’re different? Why not take the ball and run with it?

If you already don’t like mainstream girls’ fashion for its immodesty, then who’s stopping you from dressing the way you want to dress? If you already dislike mainstream movies and TV shows for their inappropriate natures, then who’s stopping you from watching what you want to watch? If you already speak differently from the norm and don’t spew cuss words, then why in the world can’t you go all the way and be so radically different with your voice that you use it to boldly uplift and speak life and truth?

If you’re a daughter of the King, why the heck are you still sitting in the middle of the road halfway between the poorhouse and the castle?

I’ve known many a girl who wasn’t exactly denying the Bible’s standards, but was also sort of trying to hide or minimize the fact that she follows them. Jesus tells us very clearly in Matthew chapter 12 that whoever is not with Him is against Him–that’s pretty darned cut-and-dried. If you’re with Him, why not be really with Him and embrace the lifestyle He outlines while creating a radically unique heritage for yourself?

To be quite frank, we ain’t got time for being milquetoast–life’s too short for that. The Covid-19 crisis is reinforcing this fact. Being princesses in the year 2020 means that we jump wholeheartedly into being different. Nobody said being a Christian girl is boring, and if you think that, then oh boy, you’re in for a surprise.

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Social distancing life hack and instant anti-boredom solution: wear a hoop skirt to the grocery store.

You want to dress like a boho lumberjack mermaid? Do it. You want to exclusively wear overalls and graphic tees? Do it. You want your aesthetic to be “background character from a Charles Dickens book”? Do it.

You want to watch black-and-white mystery movies? Do it. You want to watch animated movies intended for kids? Do it. You want to watch Jane Austen period dramas? Do it.

You want to raise chickens? Do it. You want to start an Etsy shop? Do it. You want to write a book? Do it.

Be an unapologetic Christian boss lady rebel princess. I dare you.

But yeah, I hear you. We’re all still stuck in one place for the next who-knows-how-long.

So?

Start now.

Soak in God’s Word. Pray. Breathe in His creation. Probably the best thing I did recently was taking my schoolwork outside and laying on a blanket in the middle of the woods for a few hours (hey, living in a forest has its perks). I think it had been months since I had actually stopped my to-do-list brain enough to just thank God for giving me my life, my family, and the world around me. Prayers don’t have to be fancy for God to hear them, too, you know. Ask for God to use this time of isolation to grow you.

Be eccentric. DIY projects are your best friend right now. Make flower crowns, sew a dress, paint a cabinet, or learn to bake French macarons. Be quirky. Write actual, physical letters to your friends. Learn how to change a tire. Make a funny video. Learn how to juggle. Google some musical scripts and put on a one-woman show, even if it’s for no audience in particular. Paint some rocks.

Now is the perfect time to be weird, my friend.

Achieve excellence in whatever situation you are placed. If you’re stuck doing online classes, blow them out of the water. If your job is now relegated to Zoom meetings, make them truly great. If you’re taking care of loved ones, do it to the best of your ability.

Princesses make it work–use what you have where you are right now.

Love on people. Check on your friends and family. Call them, video chat them, text them, or send them actual, physical mail. So we’ve got barriers–so did a lot of history-making people. What you do within these barriers is your choice.

Now, am I saying that everything mainstream is inherently bad? No, not at all. Is this challenge about wearing outlandish clothes or taking a “I-do-what-I-want” attitude just to show off in front of others? Nope, not in the least. Am I saying that if you’re not as weirdly eccentric of a person as I am, then you’re doing it wrong? I promise you, no. This challenge is simply about embracing the freedom God gives us to be our crazy, wonderful, weird, fun, Biblical selves without fear of repercussions from the dark world around us.

And I want to make sure I put it out there that there are certainly moral grey areas in this world, especially when it comes to media consumption, modesty, and word choices. I’m not at all saying that if my exact, precise standards on relatively minor issues don’t match yours, then you’re automatically wrong–I’m just a forest-dwelling, mortal girl who doesn’t understand absolutely everything about God and the Bible (no humans do, after all). These grey areas are where prayer comes in–listen for God’s voice. He can convict us each differently, however He chooses. However, I will say from experience as a good rule of thumb that if something in your life doesn’t honor God, you can live without it. Also, if you have questions about whether something honors God or not, don’t just take a human’s word for what the Bible says–go read it and discover what it says yourself. You can’t always trust humans, but you can always trust God’s Word.

My point in writing this is to assure anyone out there trying to stay strong in their faith and standards that they aren’t alone. Being a daughter of the King in 2020 doesn’t mean that we’re tied down by God’s rules–quite on the contrary, they free us up to stick it to the (mainstream culture) man and live freely without fear of what the world thinks of us.

Yes, I often get carried away with metaphors and dramatizations, but sometimes that kind of thing makes our struggles and everyday lives more bearable. When I was bullied a lot in my middle school years, part of how I was able to get through it was by picturing my favorite literary characters who had hardships and got through them. Go ahead and romanticize yourself a little, because in God’s eyes, you are an important character, so important that He has planned a story and a happy ending especially for you.

But you know, if you walk away from this post thinking that I’m weird and simply carry on with your business as usual, that’s perfectly fine–I don’t blame you.

I just need for you to know that even in this weird lockdown state where we’re all stuck within the same four walls for months at a time and absolutely sick of Zoom calls and Walmart grocery pick-up (and let’s be real here, until a couple of days ago I hadn’t put on makeup in two months), you are really special.

As overused and commercialized and cliched as this term has become in recent years, you’re a princess, my friend. I don’t care what connotations that word might have within pop culture, because that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that you’re made in God’s image, and that you’re a role model for those around you. I’m saying that you have incredible potential to be a light in whatever situation you’re placed in. I’m saying that you can live in God’s freedom and be as eccentric of a person as you want. I’m saying that your words have power to uplift others. I’m saying that you are a fearfully and wonderfully made leader and light in this dark world.

So, be radically different from the world around you. Be a rebel. Be eccentric. Be weird. Yeah, the world can be pretty hostile towards princesses, but why should that faze us? You’re not alone–you may not know many princesses right now, but I promise you, we’re out here. Rebellions are built on hope, my dudes, and we just so happen to have a lot of hope.

I salute you, princess–shine on.

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Author: heritageforher

Mother/Daughter team to be an encouragement to all women.

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