The following is a transcript of a speech given at a young woman's 13th birthday celebration. I enjoyed the vision of biblical womanhood presented in this speech, so I thought I would share it with you.
The Thirteenth Year
By Anna Sofia Botkin
Most of you girls are embarking on a monumental season in your life: the season of transition from beautiful girlhood to noble womanhood. This is also the season that brings new knowledge of good and evil. It brings a stronger awareness of our “crooked and perverse generation.”
As John Adams put it in a letter to his daughter Abigail when she was approaching her thirteenth birthday, it is “a time when the understanding opens, and the youth begin to look abroad into the world among whom they are to live.”
Of all the generations you could have been born into, of all the centuries, God chose for you to live in this one. Let me tell you a little bit about the generation that God placed you in.
There is a generation that curseth their father and doth not bless their mother.... There is a generation, oh, how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up. (Proverbs 30:11&13)
This generation is arrogant; it has no respect for its parents, for its heritage, for authority. They are blinded by their pride.
Isaiah 3:12 says, “As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them.”
The fact that we have women ruling in the civil and judicial spheres, and are possibly on the verge of facing the dictates of a female chief executive, shows that America is in an advanced state of apostasy and judgment. And rebellious, out-of-control children are a scourge and a shame to the nation.
The women of our generation have forgotten how to be women and how to be mothers. Some of the most important lessons we learned about womanhood this year, we learned together on the Faith and Freedom tour of Plymouth this past Fall. I learned that the current women of America are not just lesser women than their pilgrim mothers, they are the perfect opposites of their pilgrim mothers.
Where they used to be strong, now they are weak. Where they used to be models of sturdy virtue, they now are examples of flimsy immorality. Where they used to understand the importance of children and selflessly sacrifice for them, now they murder them in the womb as a sacrifice to their own selfishness. And the majority of Christians nod their heads in approval. This is your generation, and mine.
As evil as this generation is, many thirteen-year-old girls feel an uncanny attraction to it, and a desire to be approved of by it. I know I did. Our generation is out to get us, with their glossy magazines, TV shows — every medium of communication they have — they have used to ensnare thirteen-year-old girls.
This year you will see a lot of evil. Your parents will continue to protect you, but there are things and facts that you will become aware of just by living in this generation. We’re all tempted to get used to evil, the more we see of it, and be desensitized to it. We can’t hide from evil and pretend it isn’t there; but when we do see it, we have to see it with the Lord’s eyes. This is one of the most important things that my father taught me. Every time we see it, it should be even more despicable to us.
In this stormy generation which will try to shipwreck you, God has given you two wonderful gifts. Two things will help you keep your heart pure and enable you to see evil with the Lord’s eyes:
1. Intimacy with God and His Word and His Law. Immerse yourself in the Scriptures and pray that God will give you purity and wisdom.
2. Intimacy with your parents. A spirit of gratitude and honor for your parents will guard your heart and could preserve your life. I cannot stress this enough.
Ephesians 6:1 says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
“Well with you” doesn’t mean you will have everything you want. It means you will have everything you need. It means having complete inner peace, joy, happiness, and the enjoyment of God’s support in whatever you do. It means even when things seem to be going badly, God comforts you and gives you grace. It means being spiritually happy.
Here are some other blessings the Lord promises to send which are listed throughout the Bible: length of days and long life, spiritual peace, prosperity, happiness, wisdom and knowledge, honor and glory, spiritual safety, spiritual eyesight, and success.
You’ve probably heard many times that you need to “give your heart to your parents.” What does it actually mean to give your parents your heart?
The heart, called “the seat of the affections,” is the source of all passions, desires, loves, interests, likes and dislikes, convictions and opinions. Proverbs 23:26 says, “Give me your heart, my son, and let your eyes delight in my ways.”
God wants our hearts and all that they contain to be surrendered to our parents — and ultimately to God — to be molded and directed.
This is not possible unless you talk to your parents and let them know your heart and tell them about everything that you hold dear. This is that year that you need to purpose to communicate more and better with your parents than ever before. Tell them everything. Be an open book.
Making yourself vulnerable in this way requires trust. You must trust your parents, that they ultimately desire what is best for you, and that they are qualified to lead you and guide you simply because they are your parents chosen by God to raise you.
It also requires faith that God will lead you through your parents, imperfect though they are. And faith in God’s promised blessings for your obedience.
When your parents have your heart, you will truly “delight in their ways.” You will love what they love, hate what they hate, and desire their approval and company and even “think their thoughts after them.” You can learn a lot about seeking God’s will and God’s mind by doing this with your parents in your thirteenth year. This is called “seeking after the hearts of your parents,” just as King David was “a man after God’s own heart.”
Similarly, your parents’ hearts should be able to trust in you, as it says in Proverbs 31, “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her....” This means that they will have confidence in your obedience, when they are watching and when they’re not, that you will demonstrate loyalty to them and to everything they have taught you, in what you speak and do, in public and in private.
My son, keep your father’s command, and do not forsake the law of your mother. Bind them continually upon your heart; tie them around your neck. When you roam, they will lead you; when you sleep, they will keep you; and when you awake, they will speak with you. For the commandment is a lamp, and the law is a light; reproofs of instruction are the way of life.... (Proverbs 6:20-23)
It’s especially important that daughters radiate devotion to their parents when they are with their friends. And when it comes to choosing friends, the best advice that I can give you is to gravitate toward the girls that have respectful attitudes toward authority and even reverent attitudes toward their parents and your parents.
In my lifetime, I have spoken to a lot of young ladies, and it amazes me how quickly one can tell, sometimes just in one conversation, how much or how little a girl reverences her parents. Some girls drop “innocent” or “affectionate” comments that betray a belittling and dismissive spirit. They might refer to their dad as if he were a ridiculous little brother or speak disparagingly of their mother’s restrictions.
This is not honor! This is dishonor. Feel free to lovingly correct girls who do this, but please don’t choose them as role models or intimate friends. Attitudes are the quickest things to rub off onto us.
I realize that I am putting a lot of emphasis on the relationship between children and parents. I don’t believe it’s possible to put too much emphasis on a relationship that is ultimately an earthly reflection of the relationship between the Eternal Father and the Eternal Son. The goal of our relationship with our parents is a better relationship with God.
The virtues we learn by being good daughters to our fathers on earth help us in being good daughters to the King and prepare us for this life and the life to come. Learning to be good ambassadors, to be faithful, to be trusting, and to have a yielded heart with our earthly fathers will teach us to relate this way to our Heavenly Father.
We need to make the God of our parents our God as well. We can’t forget the purpose, or we’ll start thinking the whole reason we obey our parents and behave ourselves is to impress our parents’ friends and to be “the best kids.” This is one of the dangers of being a second-generation Christian... which I am and you are. The examples in the Bible show that it’s easy for second-generation Christians to lose the vision.
When I was young, I often felt there was nothing left for the second generation to do, except “keep Christianity in the family.” I felt like my parents had already done all the pioneer work. They were both saved out of non-Christian homes, and had to figure out how to build a Christian family from scratch. All the excitement and adventure and discovery was theirs; our job was just to keep from dropping the ball, and keep our children from going back into the world.
Then, when I was thirteen years old, my family moved to New Zealand, and the seven years I spent there taught me that our family’s Christian warfare has only just begun. Our parents had to fight for the right to raise their children to be soldiers. Now it’s our duty as soldiers to win the war, ours and our descendants’. Everything our parents have done doesn’t give us less to do — it gives us more to do. Luke 12:48 says, “...For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”
My father believes that the twenty-first century will be the Asian century. In your thirteenth year, you are being given the opportunity to wage war in a leading Asian nation. Korea can be pivotal in God’s plan, and you have the rare opportunity to learn about God’s elect in that nation and to bless them by your example as a kingdom-oriented Christian daughter. Please keep in mind your ambassadorial role as these needy people watch your life. You represent America’s providential history, her Western legacy, her home-schooling pioneers, your important family, and Jesus Christ Himself.
The duty of all second-generation Christians is to stand on their parents’ shoulders and succeed them; to go further and conquer new ground — to make new biblical discoveries, to reach greater heights of theological precision, to root out even more worldliness of thinking and living, to have more obedient Christian families, and to extend Christ’s dominion into every nation. And this will leave plenty for our children to do, and even our great-great-grandchildren.
In the beginning of my speech, I talked about our generation. It is perverse. It is odious to God. He is grieved and offended by it. But God had a purpose in putting us into it. Abigail Adams wrote to her son John Quincy:
These are times in which a genius would wish to live. It is not in the still calm of life, or in the repose of a pacific station, that great characters are formed. The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great necessities call out great virtues.
As you learn more about our evil world, it’s right that you should be repulsed by it, but it would be wrong for you to be afraid of it. Because one day, Lord willing, your thousands of millions of descendants will possess its gates.