By Marian Choueifati
The internet is a sea of information, some credible and others misleading. Parents find themselves hiding from taboo topics, in a way to shield their daughters from an overload of information. On the other hand, churches are not equipped with guidance material to help them address these sensitive topics. They fear how they might be perceived, thinking that the presence of young girls in church settings is enough to protect them from harm. However, they seem to be forgetting that we live in a time where teenagers have a strong online presence, making it easy for them to seek information and validation from the wrong places. For that reason, the Dar Manhal al Hayat (DMAH) team saw an increasing need to address pivotal topics such as self-worth, self-esteem, identity, sexuality, and young girls’ relationship with God. The “Joy in the Journey” event that took place on the 3rd of December 2022 was an eye-opening experience for the 107 young girls who attended, aged 13-18. Our team quickly realized that young ladies are in urgent need of therapeutic spaces that help them become aware of their worth in God’s eyes and experience how having a devoted daily relationship with Him is essential for their wellbeing.
The girls were thrilled to receive gift bags that contained the Joy in the Journey book set, an accompanying bookmark to assist their daily reading, a notebook, and decorative stickers with motivational affirmations. For each day of the year, the Joy in the Journey set of 4 books provides a 2-page devotional which encourages readers to embark on a joyous journey with God. One 13-year-old girl expressed: “I can’t wait for 2023 to start. It is my New Year’s resolution to finish all four books by the end of next year”.
“I was feeling run-down after a long week, and I was feeling discouraged, so it was nice to have a lot of words of affirmation and talk about encouraging one another. What touched me the most was the first speaker who taught us the difference between self-worth and self- esteem. I never knew the difference between the two, so it was really cool.” — Another 16-year-old attendee.
This sentiment was shared by many of the young girls who attended. The full-day program was a blessed opportunity for restoration, reflection and discovery of God’s plan for each girl’s journey with Him.
In the self-esteem discussion with Christian clinical psychotherapist and counselor Celia Khater, the young girls explored the difference between their God-given self-worth and their self-esteem that can fluctuate due to a negative self-image, excessive exposure to social media, and other unhealthy habits. In the premarital sex prevention awareness session with clinical psychologist and Christian counselor Enaam Haddad, the floor was opened to a Q&A segment. The designated bowl was quickly flooded with anonymous yet insightful questions about rape, abortion, early marriage, online relationships, intimacy and dating.
“Teenage years are a crucial time for young girls to construct their self-esteem and positive self-image.”
Later during the day, Christian worship leader and artist Shams Saad gave the young ladies an art lesson on how to use acrylic paint to express their thoughts and feelings. The girls painted while meditating on their God-given inherent worth. Finally, Reem Khoury, a 2011 Miss Lebanon candidate, shared her testimony with the young ladies, describing how Jesus changed her life after she had been wrestling with a negative self-image and an unquenchable thirst to stand out and be recognized.
We realize that our role is more than just publishing books; it is to bring the content to life by engaging people through spaces of dialogue and conversation. It was a delight to see the young ladies taking notes, participating in the discussions, asking if they can take pictures with the speakers during break time, suggesting their favorite worship songs, and building friendships. Teenage years are a crucial time for young girls to construct their self- esteem and positive self-image. For that reason, it is equally as important for them to grow into the habit of daily devotion to recognize their worth in God’s eyes, and His plan for their lives.
Help Dar Manhal Al Hayat Bring Content to Life
DMAH brings people together for valuable discussions around various topics that will build societies and raise awareness with educative and spiritual events.