A few weeks ago, while preparing for the sewing class I teach, I started watching The Paradise on Netflix. In this historical series a young woman finds herself working in one of the first department stores. Her creative ideas and leadership skills help draw out the original concepts for the store and make them even more successful. Unfortunately, she is living in a society that makes this very complicated for women. Instead of being able to voice her opinions freely to the right people, she finds herself having to influence through other means and be satisfied with others getting the credit for her work. I couldn’t help but think that could have been me. I could have grown up in a society that put limits on my possibilities and opportunities to speak just because I am a woman. I don’t think that I would have done very well.
Unlike this character, I have freedom to really be who I was created to be! The legal and social cages that limited how God could use me have been crumbling over the past century. I can influence my countries (I have two now) through my vote. I can problem solve and challenge the thinking of society in higher education. I can encourage people from the front of a church in both my sending nation and the one I live in. I don’t have to be saved from poverty by having a husband or living at home. I can defend myself from harm and the law is (should be) on my side. I can share ideas and start a company. And I can wear heals and skirts while baking cake and watching Pride and Prejudice for the 200th time.
God wasn’t surprised when he began placing and nurturing my personality, my dreams and my abilities inside a female body. I am 100% convinced that he didn’t get any of that wrong. I don’t have to become the image of a constructed version of the perpetual virgin Mary if I want to pursue the best of what God has for me as a woman (lack of feminine sexuality = godliness). I also don’t have to have holiness measured by my marital status, number of children, ability to run my home and discipline to stay silent in church.
I am free spiritually and socially to truly be me! All of me as God intended.
So here is acknowledgement of the millions of women who God places value on when others do not! Who he gives dreams to and whose personalities are bigger than life. Here’s to the woman who is a thinker and leader but whose voice is stifled. Here’s to the woman whose only financial option out of absolute poverty is to sell her body. Here’s to the woman who is limited to teaching only her children when she is gifted to educate the world. Here’s to the woman who lives as a pretty pet on a leash because all someone wants is a beautiful face. Here’s to the woman who is filled with inner-strength because she knows that her value is not dictated by her government but by the One who made no mistakes when he created her. It is not enough for us to say to a woman, “God knit you together in your mother’s womb,” and then make sure she knows her restrictions of how she is socially allowed to live out those God intended purposes.
So yes, I am thankful that I am free and thankful for the women and men who sacrificed so much in the past so that I can be. And thank you, Jesus, that you had intellectual conversations with, gave dignity to and even touched the women around you!
With these freedoms comes responsibility. Let wisdom temper the passions I have and channel them into something useful for all people. Let courage fortify my soul so I take the risks I am asked to take for God’s beautiful kingdom to come. And let me stand up for the people beside me who are bound up in glass cages unable to share their voice because they don’t fit in to our ideas of smart enough, accomplished enough, able enough. I want to, selfishly, be blessed by them as they live in the fullness of the personality and purposes God has placed in them. But how can I if I don’t take up the hammer to their cages? For me, my hammer is love. It is creativity. It is seeing the world with different eyes. It is faith … and maybe a bit of project management thrown in.