An open letter from a father of girls

Published 2:30 pm Saturday, September 30, 2017

by Andrew Book

To my mothers, sisters and daughters in this human race,

I want to take a few minutes of my time to thank you for the incredible, unique contributions that you give to our world. You are fascinating and wonderful people who are created in the image of our great God and filled with God’s own breath. Over the course of my 37 years, I have gotten to know many of you and have seen such a variety of gifts, passions and callings that I want to take a few minutes to encourage you to be exactly who God made you to be: yourself.

We live in a world today where I know many of you struggle to find your own voice and struggle to know your voice matters, so I want to let you know your voice does matter. Without your voice, your thoughts and your mind, this world is incomplete. You have something powerful to offer! This week, social media and the news have been filled with pictures of women placed like props beside a man that is the focus of the article. These women are usually left unnamed and have nothing to say in the articles attached to their pictures. Instead, the only thing we know about them is based off the scanty outfits and rabbit ears they are wearing. The pictures and the stories tell about women who are used and valued for their bodies, but I want you to know that those people are not the only “beautiful” people.

You are beautiful.

You are beautiful physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. You are a unique person and I pray that you will never feel compelled to try to force your body into someone else’s idea of beauty. Our world is filled with images used to promote everything from hamburgers to sports cars that try to sell us on a twisted idea of what it means to be beautiful. Fight against the lie that beauty only comes in one shape and size. Fight against the lie that the only kind of beauty that matters is your physical appearance.

The world around us is focusing on a man who lived his life in pajamas, but I want to celebrate you.  We can’t begin to record all that you have done to make this world a better place and all that you will do to love the people around you in the kinds of soul-nurturing, life-shaping kinds of ways that make a profound difference in our lives. I want to celebrate the women who are scientists, mothers, teachers, doctors, emergency personnel, sisters, daughters and friends. You are wonderful, powerful people!

I want to celebrate your dreams. Some of you have already lived your dreams, and you can look back at a life well-lived and smile. Others of you have seen your dreams broken but still seek to live the best way you know how. Still others are dreaming, and I pray you would fan those dreams with the knowledge that God has placed you on this earth and given you a mind, a voice, a heart and a life, which can truly shape the course of life for your community, family, city, country and even the world. I don’t know what you are dreaming, but I hope you will steep those dreams in prayer and allow God to work through you.

As a pastor, I have talked with some of you about how hard life can be. I know some of the challenges you are facing. I recognize that you will have mountains to climb that I will never face. I can see there will always be people around you who seek to determine your value based on their assessment of your appearance. Those people are losing out. They are losing out on knowing the depth of your heart, soul and mind. They are losing out on the skills and gifts you bring to the table.

Those people may get you down, but I pray they will never push you out. Their myopic vision should not stop you from being who you can be.

As I conclude this letter, I want to say, “thank you.” Our world is better because of you. May you never doubt that you are beautiful, powerful and called to change the world!

ANDREW BOOK is the pastor of Courtland United Methodist Church. He can be contacted at 653-2240 or