There is no instruction or user manual for being a woman, or growing up in this world with female-specific body parts, or a feminine physique. No book of tools or advice for walking this path or that. We are all our own special people (or so our mothers or fathers tell us), with our own set of unique preferences, likes and dislikes and everything in between. I won’t bother to go on my tirade against “Women’s History Month,” or why I believe that such a month shouldn’t exist in the first place, as every month should be women’s history month.
But there are some things that every woman should know, for goodness sake. There are some things I wish someone had sat down and told me when I was growing up, that women should be told, and that for the love of all things good and feminine holy, culture should embrace. Should praise.
One. Don’t be afraid of who the Creator has created you to be, however glorious, mighty, powerful, magnificent and incredible that person is. God has created you for equally incredible things as others, and your light must and will shine, no matter how long it takes for you and others to recognize it. Don’t give up on finding that purpose. Fear of that created purpose is a recognition of your greatness.
Two. Never dull your shine for anyone. No matter what. Dulling your shine only hurts you – no one else suffers from that action. It also lets everyone else walk all over the person God created you to be, and dulls your potential. Why let that light be hidden under a bushel basket, when it is deserving of illuminating the whole world?
Three. Don’t hide your beauty, and don’t let anyone tell you that you need to, especially the church, a man, or other women. Your beauty is for you, first and foremost, and something that should be enjoyed, embraced, loved and praised? You are too beautiful to hide yourself. Who do you hide yourself for?
Four. Learn to take a complement. Settle into the fact that you are deserving of praise and laud equally as much as everyone else. Do not deprive yourself of praise simply because you believe you are less deserving of it. When it comes, remain silent, take it in, and when they are finished telling you how wonderful you are, say thank you. Because you are worthy of each and every savory word.
Five. When you fall in love, fall in love with someone who doesn’t ask you to only change who you are, but you grow together. Don’t allow a relationship to fully consume the beautiful person you were created to be “in the beginning,” because no man or woman is worthy of that, no matter how hard you fall. If that person demands that much of you, walk away and look for someone who embraces the bits and pieces of you that are less attractive and quirky but that make you YOU. That is the true meaning of FALLING in love.
Six. Keep a few friends around you who are unabashedly unafraid to call you on the things you are too afraid to call yourself on. They can tell you the harsh truth, listen to the deep and difficult things in life, and wipe away tears when the walls life around you fall to the ground. They are also the people who will help you laugh so hard that your stomach hurts and you cannot catch your breath. These are the people who will know your spirit, hold your hands in prayer, and walk with you in many phases of the journey.
Seven. Growth is necessary, and more annoying than we’d like, but it can grind away our rough edges to show the beauty beneath. If you refuse to grow, you’ll never break and become more beautiful on the inside.
Eight. Buy the perfect shade of red lipstick and don’t be afraid to wear it on a Monday. The boldness of red lipstick shows that you’re ready to face the day. For you, not for anyone else. This day belongs to you, and what you make of it is yours and yours alone, and if anyone stares at your choice of a bright and bold lipstick, then that is their loss, for your choice to live boldly is a wonderful thing, and they are just jealous of your courage.
Nine. Do not be afraid to ask for a raise. You deserve equality; hold your boss to the same standards as they hold you to the same standards as everyone else. Find your backbone and stick to it. Have courage and allow it to dictate your life without apology. You are worthy of equality, even if the world doesn’t agree.
Ten. Do not label yourself the way the world labels you. Do not allow yourself nor do not self-label as “cardiac patient,” “seminary student,” “pastor,” “chaplain,” “mentally ill,” “homeless,” “graduate,” or “in-between.” Identify only as “I AM A WOMAN,” as this is the only label that should be empowering, not serving to demean or put you somewhere in between, somewhere in a box or category that you don’t quite belong fully. Don’t you dare try to use a label to put yourself somewhere you think is better, to make people feel sorry for you, somewhere that might help you get ahead. It doesn’t work, and it will only disable you – socially, in employment, in the world. Be who you are – a woman. Strong. Smart. Intelligent. Proud. Glowing.
If nothing else, be Created In the Image of the Divine.
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