As I was scrolling through Instagram this morning, I saw all of the posts about International Women’s Day and I started to think about all of the women and girls in my life and how each of them is so incredibly unique. They each have a story that is all their own and they have all left their mark on my heart as well.
When I think about where I was, who I am now, and who I want to become, a vast majority of it has been influenced and encouraged into shape by the women in my life. From my mom, who is strong, and goofy, and endlessly creative. Who has never shied away from being real with me about what she learned through the ups and downs in her life so that I could learn from them too. Who has dealt with a lot of emotional and relational heaviness that she didn’t choose or ask for with grace and purpose and so much more forgiveness than I will ever have. To my grandmothers who are extraordinary human beings – one who dealt with loss from an early age and had to grow up a little faster than she probably would have liked. Who worked to make her home a safe haven for everyone and endlessly gave her time, energy, and resources to others, even when they didn’t deserve it. And one who teaches me how to be a woman full of grace and truth in the face of challenges both ideal and otherwise. Who has always been my biggest cheerleader and shown me so much about art and music and hard work from an early age. To my aunts who give the best hugs and tell me stories about the relatives I never got the chance to know. Who spend as much time as they can together and make even washing dishes a celebration because they have that much joy. To my cousins who are the first best friends I ever had and who I have always looked up to. Who are each beautiful and unique and who handle the stages of life with grace and humor. And those are just the women whose blood is running through my veins.
Not only are my family members amazing, but so are all of the moms and grandmothers of my best friends who have adopted me as their own over the years by feeding me, giving me wisdom and advice, letting me crash at their houses and spend time with their families – they have all had an immense impact on who I am as well. There’s something to be said about investing time and energy into someone who isn’t your own kid – that means more to me than I will ever be able to express. There are also the women who have mentored me over the years, speaking truth into my life even when I didn’t want to hear it. Who listened to me process and grieve and just be generally confused and conflicted about life, never speaking harshly or with blame, but gently pointing me back to Jesus time and time again. I am immensely thankful for their legacy and influence in my life and my greatest hope is to be to other girls what they have been to me.
And then there are my friends. It is such an honor to do life with them all. I thought that I had friendships all figured out earlier in life, but boy was I wrong. These girls show me what it looks like to love people despite their quirks and flaws and shortcomings. They show me how to be honest and vulnerable, to encourage and lift up instead of judge and add to the noise of who culture says we should be. They push me to be better, to be unashamedly myself, and to not care what anyone else thinks about me as long as I know how Jesus looks at me. They allow me to be part of their lives and they care about who I’m becoming, not just who I used to be. Figuring out how to be twenty-somethings together has been more scary and challenging than we ever thought, but man is it fun. Some of them are married or dating and some of them are not. Some deal with struggles that the others don’t. But they are all beautiful and strong and unique in the most incredible ways. They are all creative and they all have something to bring to the table. They all love and care for others differently and they are all pursuing their purpose and calling, even if they don’t exactly know what that is yet. Some are working their dream job, some are putting themselves through school. Some are saving lives and making the world a better place, and some are risking their own safety and well-being to love those who are less fortunate than them. They’re funny and sweet and generous and snarky and brilliant and loving in a billion different ways. They push me to be a better friend, a better daughter, a better sister, and a better human.
So on this day of celebrating women, I just felt like I needed to write a little letter of thanks to the babes in my life, both those doing life with me and those who have gone before me. With all of the attention that women’s rights has received in the media recently, I feel like it’s important to note that what these women have also shown me with their lives is that it’s not just about making sure that women are heard, understood, and appreciated, but that it’s about being the women that we were created to be. And this means that women and men come alongside each other to fulfill our God-given purposes, not one hating on or feeling superior to the other. These women in my life are powerful and purposeful in their own right, and so are the men around them. They are wonderful, encouraging moms and wives and sisters and friends who have or are learning the beautiful balance of their role in this world. Some are the providers of their families because they have to be and some are because they want to be, but that does not mean they are any more or any less than any human being, regardless of gender. Some have experienced the inexcusable, and to that I say absolutely no more should be tolerated. So on that subject, the world and I are on the same page. But living with grace and forgiveness is a species-wide thing, not a gender-specific thing. We all make mistakes and we all learn how to move forward in spite of them. And in all of this, I don’t think we should forget the women in this world who aren’t as fortunate as you and me. Who aren’t allowed to speak their mind on anything, let alone on how much they should get paid or how they are treated. And especially for their sakes, I think it is important for us to speak up.
So let me be clear. I believe that we were all uniquely created for a specific purpose – our minds, our bodies, our hearts are all molded by the Creator and we all have a role to play. And that role looks different for everyone. And as women in 2018, our role looks like that of people who encourage, love despite flaws, and push forward to make the world better for the future generations. The girls in our lives deserve that and so do the boys. So here’s to the women who pick themselves back up when they fall, serve without hesitation, speak the truth in love, and strive to leave a legacy worth remembering. I’m so thankful for the women in my life and the men who run the race with them. May we all move mountains and bring glory to the One who put us here in the first place.