What I know for sure about women; about us:
When I read the ancient, sacred stories of women I am ever-finding intimate, generous, wise companions who come alongside to strengthen me; who make sense of the circumstances in which I find myself; who soothe my tired brow, who bless me, and who provide me the encouragement I need to continue on.
Sometimes their stories enrage and embolden me – their circumstances so much harder than my own, their silencing so much more blatant than mine has ever been, their marginalization and dismissal so much more excruciating than I can begin to imagine.
Either way and in all ways, I am compelled in nearly out-of-body ways to tell these stories, to tell of these women, to hope that you will come to know and love them as I do. They deserve that. And I believe that you do, as well.
If I could, I’d tell you story after story from my life; particular circumstances and scenes in which these ancient, sacred stories of women have been nearly the only thing to sustain me. And if I could, I’d strive to make sure you understand that I do not read or love them because they are housed within scripture. I read and love them because they exist, period. Because they have survived – despite thousands of years of less-than-stellar tellings. Because if they can survive, so can I. Because they remind me that I am not alone; that I am their daughter, their lineage, their kin.
In all my reading and telling of their stories, and in the living of my own, there are two things I’ve come to know for sure about women; about us:
1. We persevere.
2. We are prophetesses.
Now, if I thought you quickly and enthusiastically agreed with both of these statements, I could end this post right here, so certain am I of their truth and reality. But I’m guessing you’re not all that crazy about either of them; that to you they sound more like curse than blessing; more like heavy sigh than exultant “yes!” And so, not surprisingly, I have more to say.
First, we persevere.
*Heavy sigh.* Do your shoulders bow at the word itself? Do you feel its ominous weight pressing against your chest? Do you hear the voice within that says, “Please, can’t a girl just catch a break?!?”
But what if perseverance wasn’t a default setting or a required characteristic; rather, something you celebrated and even aspired toward? Maybe some synonyms will help; adjectives that will serve as strong definers of who I’ll bet you already and always are:
Constant. Dedicated. Determined. Dogged. Driven. Gritty. Indefatigable. Persistent. Purposeful. Steadfast. Tenacious.
To persevere embodies the best of who we are as women – not because we must (though that is true, as well), but because we can. We have the capacity. We have the ability. We will endure – no matter what. And because of such, this is not something to sigh over.
Our perseverance is worth celebrating, toasting, and shouting out loud to all who will hear and then some!
How beautiful and amazing are we? Of this, I am sure.
Second, we are prophetesses.
It just keeps getting better, doesn’t it? Mmmhmm. Truth-be-told, you probably don’t want this title or this role. You might think of a prophet as soothsayer, fortune-teller, or predictor of the future. Or maybe you hearken back to old stories about guys in the bible who had a pretty bad time of it – martyred, tortured, and usually dismissed as crazy. Uh, no thank you.
In truth, prophets have been and are people who tell the truth. They see what is happening around them and name it. They speak and/or act cogently and boldly in response to what is. They articulate the reality within which they live – politically, environmentally, socially, culturally, spiritually, relationally, emotionally. Is it easy? No. Would they often rather just remain silent? Yes. But can they, really, and still be true to themselves? Absolutely not.
More synonyms to sweeten the pot? Aware. Clever. Discerning. Educated. Enlightened. Evocative. Insightful. Intelligent. Intuitive.
Perceptive. Reflective. Understanding. A leader. An oracle. A spokesperson. A teacher. And my new favorite word, a seeress.
To be a prophetess describes exactly who we are as women; who we are when we are functioning at our best; who we are when we are living in places of integrity and resonance with our deepest wisdom; who we are when we do not remain silent; who we are when we boldly and bravely tell and live our truth – no matter the consequences, the risks, the ramifications. It’s got to be done, we know this, and we are up to the task.
How beautiful and amazing are we? Of this, I am sure.
What I know for sure about women, about us, should not be met with resigned sigh, but a resounding-through-the-Universe *clink* of our champagne glasses, the breathtaking sound of our combined tears, the winsomeness of our shared laughter. What I know for sure about women flourishes when we get out of bed yet one more day and go about the work that lies in wait. What I know for sure about women builds in strength and power when we reveal our hearts in risky, passionate ways. What I know for sure about women feels like certainty, center, and home. What I know for sure about women is endlessly, infinitely made known in our grandmothers, our mothers,
our sisters, our daughters, our nieces, our mentors, our friends. What I know for sure about women is true about you. It is true about me.
It is true, period.
And that truth is what leads me to a third thing I know for sure:
3. We are beautiful and amazing.
As I’ve steeped myself in the ancient, sacred stories of women, I have encountered beautiful and amazing examples of perseverance that would cause the bravest of souls to quake in their heels. I have encountered beautiful and amazing prophetesses who have spoken and acted in such strength, such truth, such power that no matter how their story has been mangled and maligned throughout the years, they will not be silenced. And I have encountered the beauty and amazingness of you: their daughter, their lineage, their kin.
So come to know and love the myriad of stories that dwell in your midst – at your beck and call to strengthen and guide, encourage and befriend, even enrage and embolden.
And while you’re at it, come to know and love your own. It’s just as inspiring, just as important, just as legendary. You can’t help but persevere. You can’t help but be the prophetess you already are. And you can’t help but be beautiful and amazing.
Of this – and you, I am sure.
Every week I write you a letter. It’s sent out on Monday mornings via email – full of truth-telling, my deepest heart on your behalf, and as much encouragement and hope and wisdom as I can muster. SUBSCRIBE.