You’re Designed to Shine
by Christina DiMari
Every female, no matter what age, is continually seeking ways to better herself. Women desire to find ways to live out their dreams and make a difference in the world. Christian females, however, take a little different spin on this. They desire to discover and live out their dreams in accordance with God’s will and desire for their lives. Just because this is a desire, however, does not mean that it’s easy. This study seeks to help girls of all ages explore their life dreams and what makes them unique, how to choose good support along the journey, realize their God-given gifts, and how to live all of that out in a God-honoring way. This study, although intended for all ages, would probably work best in a small-group setting (6-8 girls) with teenage girls that includes a few Christ-centered older women in each group for guidance and to share life experience.
There are 6 sessions, so this study could be used as a multi-week course or in a retreat-type setting.
● Session One: My Dream
● Session Two: My Star
● Session Three: My Pod
● Session Four: My Pearls
● Session Five: My Gift
● Session Six: My Wave
Each session consists of a variety of different activities in the same general outline that appeal to many types of learners including personal stories, encouragement, personal reflections, times to create and express one’s thoughts and sharing time. This is not a lecture-heavy Bible Study. There are tangible suggestions for the leader to use to help drive the point home beyond just the accompanying journal for each girl. The lessons are very interconnected, so a retreat-type setting for this study might be preferable.
Much of the “visual” aspect of this study uses a water-type setting, so to get the maximum benefit from the study it would probably be best for the group to do this study outside in nature somewhere, preferably by the ocean, a lake, or a stream, or make sure that the girls have some sort of life-experience where they can relate especially to being at the ocean.
The study starts out in the first session helping girls to think about what they want to do or be in life. Then, the lesson encourages them to see these hopes for their lives from a faith perspective. There is some Scripture attached to each session, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to adapt each lesson with a little more Scriptural basis, especially highlighting the human inability to make our lives God-honoring on our own, but that grace which comes only from the Father holds and guides us.
Doctrinally, some issues may be raised with this curriculum. In some different parts of the leader’s guide (including in the introduction and explanation), the author encourages the study leader to help girls that may not be Christian to “accept Jesus and invite Him into her life.” As Lutherans, we do not embrace this thought, but learning opportunities may be created to help girls to understand the weight of their sin and their need for a savior, and the promise of the Gospel message and the renewing waters of the sacrament of Baptism. In doing this, the leader can turn the thought of a focus on self (what “we” can do to believe in Jesus) to a focus on the cross and resurrection. Additionally, as Lutheran Christians, the opportunity to enhance this somewhat surface-level study is given as one can use this study, especially the sessions “My Gift” and “My Wave,” to highlight the differences of using “feelings and voices” as a direction in which to make a life choice in contrast to the Lutheran doctrine of vocation–that each person has the freedom to choose a vocation that is meaningful, God-honoring and which God can work through to further the work of His kingdom.
So how then, how does one best teach about vocation and life direction and choices to young women through this study? We understand vocation not as listening to voices in our head, visions or feelings, but instead turning to Scripture in helping to discover the spiritual gifts God has given us, His commands for His people and the feedback and wisdom given to us objectively from other Christian people in our lives. It must be important to highlight the error and frustration in listening to one’s “feelings,” or expectantly waiting for a voice from the heavens for direction in life, but instead to go about life decisions more objectively and concretely.
This curriculum really provides well for the leader. It requires little prep time beyond reading and gaining an understanding of the materials, adapting (adding) Scripture and gathering needed supplies for the creative aspect of the lesson. It would be encouraged to the leader to read through the study beforehand so they can see where adaptation might be necessary. Some materials may need to be purchased (this is really up to the leader) while others could be found around the home or church. It does a good job of providing a basis for discussion questions and talking points.
This six-session study has the potential to really help young women explore their own dreams in alignment with God’s will when the doctrine of vocation is clearly added and highlighted. With the addition of older and uplifting Christian women present, it can help set girls on the path to becoming strong followers of Christ who are able to be used by their Heavenly Father to influence others to shine for the Lord as well. It would be a great tool to use to help a group of girls grow first with their Heavenly Father, and then with one another and some trusted female mentors as well.