“To all women around the world: in a voiced community, we all flourish because this is what we do, continue to create beauty – each in our own way in the places we call home” – Terry Tempest Williams
Today is International Women’s day – a beautiful and revolutionary day for celebrating not only social, economic and political achievements but also the wonder, value and worth of every woman worldwide. I’m thankful for what it means to be a woman and to be born in a country where the birth of a daughter is celebrated and the opportunities available to me are no different from my brother’s. I’m thankful for the multitude of women (and men) who recognise our value and stand in solidarity with us for our protection and progress. I’m thankful for the women of influence in this generation and the generations before us. Particularly for the women in my own life who inspire me daily and have taught me in words and in action what it means to be a woman and all the joy that comes alongside that.
Some would say that right now, we are in a better position than we ever have been before, with more rights than ever in history, the worldwide uprise of feminism and the redefinition and modernisation of the woman and her place in society, her work and her family. Though this is true and though there is so much to celebrate, commend and honour, the battle against us is incontestably real and as dramatic as it may seem, it’s happening today and it’s happening as you read this. Lisa Bevere, in her book Girls with Swords explains how “there is a very real, highly structured force of darkness in this earth that wrestles against all who represent God’s light and life” and that the enemy has made it his aim to distract us from who we are, hinder our growth and divert us from what God really desires for his daughters. Indisputably. the fact that we are women, makes us a more specific target and the attack against us has never been so extensive, obvious and unfair.
You may be reading this and be thinking that you’ve never faced a major injustice as a result of your gender or perhaps you don’t see the relevance of feminism today, or maybe you think that only women in developing nations are facing hardship. To that I want to remind you that the oppression and pain of God’s daughters in Africa, Asia and all around the world is our pain too, and that it’s our responsibility to stand with them in prayer and unification. You also need to know that your location and nationality does not exclude you as though you may not be able to visibly see this battle, it nonetheless exists.
Today, particularly for young women, there is a battle against our identity and femininity. There are more voices, sources and images of influence than we could ever count. In fact, unless you close your eyes to culture, it’s almost impossible to avoid these mediums of influence. On many levels, our womanhood is being misused and misrepresented – sexuality is exploited, our bodies are objectified and our femininity in the eyes of the media has corruptly become something that it was never intended to be. Popular culture convinces us that objectification and sexualisation is ‘freedom, power and confidence’ whereas modesty is ‘confinement’. We compete for the attention of men and the approval of women as if we are beings that can be compared. This is a dead-end cycle that purely robs us of our sense of self-worth and strips us of any confidence in who we are that we may have. We currently live in a world of demeaning and disqualifying voices. These voices are loud and can eat at our hearts, imobilising us and even deafening us of life-giving truth.
What I’ve come to realise is that in an imperfect world, these voices may always exist and until we reach heaven, the enemy will always work hard to distract us from giving birth to God’s plan for our lives and living in the truth and confidence of who we are. This is because as women we have enormous potential and capacity. So now is our time to rise up against all demeaning voices, disregarding and shutting down untruths by listening attentively to the voice of God above any and every other voice. If we struggle with comparison or self-doubt, we must pray daily that we will be able to distinguish the life-giving voices from the death-giving voices among us. The plain truth is that culture cannot be trusted to feed truth into our lives. This is what God does – he speaks the all life-giving, sustaining truth. Truth that nourishes and satisfies our souls, never leaving us empty, this is what we must set our hearts and minds on.
The title of this post considers the question, “can you compare a lily to a rose?” the answer is simply no.
Imagine the intricacy, beauty and detail of a flower – a photograph or painting cannot even represent it’s delicacy, complexity or colour. You can’t compare the beauty of a lily to a rose, each is perfectly different. In fact, a rose’s strength is that it’s a rose, and a lily’s strength is that it’s a lily.
If you can understand this perhaps you can understand why God never intended us to compare ourselves to one another, our beauty quite literally cannot be contrasted and our gifts are as unique as our fingerprints – this is our strength and once we know this, we can truly prosper as individuals. Society will always wish for us to buy into the untruth that we are inadequate however God tells us that we are more beloved than we could ever know. His desire for us as women (today and everyday) is to be unapologetically and fearlessly ourselves.
“The creator of heaven and earth is the architect and author of our lives. It is time for the daughters of this twenty first century to echo heaven’s words” – Lisa Bevere