What I want you to know on International Women's Day.
For L + M
you’ve raised me as much as i’ve raised you
Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to be a mama someday. It wasn’t until 2012, when twenty six and seven year olds were gunned down in the colorful classrooms of Sandy Hook Elementary School that I began to question what kind of world my children would be born into. My grandma sent me a letter saying she wouldn’t blame me if I changed my mind. And then in 2016, when my neighbors saw fit to elect Donald Trump to be our country’s president in spite of his relentless bragging about his ability to get away with grabbing a woman “by the pussy,” the thought of having a daughter instilled an entirely different sort of trepidation in me. But ask anyone who has ever spent more than five minutes with me, and they’ll tell you that even though I’ve never experienced the pain and joy of childbirth, mothering has been in my bones and my soul from the beginning.
And now, I have the two of you—and because our time is short, there are some things I want to tell you on this, our day to celebrate all things bright and beautiful and feminine.
Not so long ago, my attention was drawn to a woman who was sharing her thoughts about biblical womanhood online. I had never heard of her before, but one particular post she had written was kicking up a lot of dust in my little circle of the world wide web. The gist of what she shared is that we women should get busy looking for husbands to have lots of babies with instead of going to college, to stay in the kitchen and roast chickens instead of climbing the corporate ladder, to keep our bodies covered at all costs, to keep our mouths shut and avoid polling places on election day, and to make every effort to shun the dangerous and sinful ideas of feminism.
Make no mistake, my loves, there are fearful people out there who will take one look at half of the sky and demand that it shrink back and drain itself dry, denying even the smallest hint of its divine design. There are people who think that they know where you belong in this world—people who will blatantly ignore your intelligence, your compassion, your strength, your determination, and your service to our world, all because you are a woman. Once, I heard Cal Wilson tell a story about a man who told her she was quite funny for a female comedienne. She clarified that what the man she met was really saying is that he was surprised he could hear her hilarious stories and jokes “over the sound of her vagina.” I couldn’t help but laugh at her blunt delivery, but any woman who has ever been told that she is good at something, not because of their femininity, but in spite of it, will tell you that Cal has hit the nail on the head.
What I want you to know today is that you are enough and whole and capable because you are women. And your place is wherever God has planted you in this moment.
I know that there will be many days when you doubt this. Someone—a boyfriend, a boss, a guy in class, a professor, a preacher, strangers on the internet, even other women—will inevitably say things about you that are not true or good. And then, there will be days when the voice that says harmful and untrue things about you is your own. If you’re anything like me, there will be days when you wonder if God made a mistake when he gave you all this passion, empathy, drive, creativity, and conviction.
I promise you, he didn’t.
When Sally Lloyd-Jones wrote the story of creation in her Jesus Storybook Bible, she said that when God made you, little women, he smiled and said you were the most beautiful thing he ever made. He said that you looked just like him. Before anyone else had a chance to tell us we were too much or not enough, the God of the universe who called the planets and the wildflowers and the sound of E-minor good chose to call us very good. It means that you are tender because God is tender, you are creative because God is creative, you are faithful because God is faithful, and you care about justice because God cares about justice. Every good and perfect thing you are is because he delighted in revealing his heart and his character to the world through you.
And when Jesus said that blessed are the meek and merciful and hungry and pure and peacemakers, he was blessing women. Jesus protected women, empowered women, honored women in public spaces, celebrated women, learned from women, and chose women to reveal himself to as the resurrected savior.
Never, ever forget that biblical womanhood looked like civil disobedience, prophesy, prayer, hospitality, wisdom, vision, intelligence, humility, and standing up to those at the helm of harmful power structures.
Never, ever forget that in Christ, we are not only called, but fully equipped just as we are for every good work. We are the dwellings of the Holy Spirit, friends of God, coheirs and ambassadors, the light of the world, the salt of the earth. Married, single, young, old, straight, gay, tattooed, rich, in debt, homemaker, breadwinner—the world can stick any label it wants to on us and call us wrong, but literally nothing can separate us from the love of the God who made us and loved us and set us apart in the first place.
So when the world comes to kick you in the gut and ask you who you think you are, you hold your head high and you tell this world that you are a woman, free from any accusation or need for affirmation. You are a woman, whole and complete. You are a woman, phenomenal woman. And you’re not afraid to let the sun kiss your skin, to let your hands and your arms and your brain and your heart reach far and wide. You dare to go where the women before you could have only ever dreamed of going, for all of us. We are waiting for you. You are a woman, like a tree planted by the water, and you will not wither—not in the face fear, not in the face of misogyny, not in the face of being unpopular, not in the face of any glass ceiling because the same Love that made you and named you also made the sky beyond it. You are a woman, brilliant and strong and tender and kind. You are a woman, the very dwelling of God.