A Letter to Women on International Women's Day

Dear Women,

Happy Women’s Day! I don’t think that was a thing when I was growing up, but I’m just fine with it coming on the scene now. I like the opportunity to remind my daughter she’s strong and brave and kind and badass (I haven’t used that word out loud with her yet, but you bet I’m thinking it). I like the opportunity to reflect on my own strength and bravery and kindness and badassness (my computer is saying that’s not a word, but my computer is wrong). And I really, really like the opportunity to spend an entire day seeing women supporting each other and reminding each other how strong and brave and kind they are. Women are badass. I was pushing our gargantuan stroller up a very steep hill today and a woman yelled across the street to me, “Hey Mama! Happy Women’s Day!” She had a huge smile and pumped her fist in the air when she said it. I loved it, yelled back, “You too!” and pushed the stroller a little harder.

So yeah, I’m on board with a day to celebrate women.

Over the past six months I’ve had the opportunity to develop a monthly women’s event at our church. It’s called Dwell and we gather to talk about the courage it takes to be vulnerable, what it looks like to be hidden in Christ, how to love our families well (even the really, really difficult members), arming ourselves with Truth and tuning our ears to God’s voice. These nights have become one of my greatest joys. We have incredible women at our church and I am still pinching myself that God would invite me to do the work of gathering them, encouraging them, and hearing the stories of His overwhelming love in their lives.

This month we talked about how to create a culture of women who honor and encourage one another in the midst of a culture that often leads to comparison and envy.

I believe one of the sneakiest ways the Enemy attacks women specifically is by trying to convince us that other women have it better than we do. If you’re single, it’s easy to look at the married women and think they have everything you want. If you’re married, it’s easy to look at women with children and long for the day you will have your own. If you’re a mom, it’s easy to look forward to the day when your kids are all in school and you have a moment to breathe again, or to look at the single women and be jealous that they don’t have to balance their career and identity outside of “Mommy”. Eventually, we start to gather in groups of women in similar life stages and miss out on the incredible things God is doing through the other women in our community. We have so much to learn from each other.

But how do we combat that comparison? How do we halt those feelings of jealousy and envy when they start to rise up? I think it starts with honoring each other. It’s one thing to recognize that the enemy attacks us by encouraging comparison and envy. It’s another thing to fight back. And we fight back by building each other up.

I’m seeing that all over the place today. Women speaking kindly to each other and affirming one another. I hope that tomorrow and the next day we don’t forget how important that is. How important it is to speak kindly when we see our sisters struggling. How important it is to affirm our sisters in what they are doing well. How important it is to remind our sisters who they are when they doubt their strength and bravery and kindness and badassness. How important it is to remember that we too were created in the image of God. That we too are valued by Him. That we too are loved by Him. That we too are powerful. That we too are on this earth for such a time as this.  

It’s easier to encourage people who are doing things we would never consider or dream of doing. My friend Emily is the worship pastor at our church and it’s so easy for me to tell her that she writes incredible songs that are Spirit filled. I led worship in my high school youth group and recalling those memories confirms that being a worship leader is not my gift. My friend Daphne is a doctor who was just honored with a very well deserved award. It was so easy for me to cheer her on because I get light-headed at the sight of blood and barely made it through medical school as a spouse let alone a student. My best friend Nicole is a home designer who is building her business and it’s so easy for me to encourage her in following those dreams because they don’t look like mine (and also because I want her to come decorate my apartment).

But if someone is a writer or a teacher? It’s just harder. There is this assumption that if God is pouring out blessing to them that there won’t be enough for me. And when I say that out loud it’s so obvious that it’s a lie. I should be rejoicing in other writers and teachers raising up. I should be delighting in the gifts God has given them. He doesn’t take from me to give to them. When we encourage one another and praise Him for inviting us to do this work alongside Him, I think God does a little happy dance.

I’m in a writing group with three other women. We often submit our work to the same publications. So when there are open calls for submissions, we all share our work with one another. I know these essays will be read by the same people and likely they will not all be chosen. It would be so easy for me to kick myself for not being as good as the other writers or to not give them the feedback I believe would strengthen their essays. But over the past year, we have all become stronger writers by encouraging each other. None of us have had gifts taken away because of the affirmation we have given. Our gifts are multiplied when they are shared.

If we are going to be women who honor one another during the other 364 days a year besides Women’s Day, we have to also be women who receive honor well. I know that it is really difficult for some of us to get a compliment and simply say, “Thank you.” When we defer the affirmation or the encouragement, we break down that culture of honor just a little bit. Let’s make it easy for other women to be encouraging by receiving that encouragement graciously. If I tell you something good about yourself, believe it. And if you’re a woman, there are so many good things about you.

I’m thankful for Women’s Day. I’m thankful for a day to be reminded of the importance of rooting for other women. Let’s not forget how important that is tomorrow.

Rooting for you,