Art by @alito_calligraphy
I need all the women in my life who are dangerous and hilarious, who don’t choose between their womanhood and their callings, women who push back the powers of darkness, women who lead uniquely and differently, women who love. – Sarah Bessey
Two years ago Sarah Bessey wrote a blog post called “I needed to see her.” In it she talked about the women who have gone before her, the women who have stood before her and inspired and challenged her. She talked about the women she needed to see serving God and their families and each other. She talked about how seeing those women do their thing gave her permission to do her thing. Her words rang true and deep in my soul. Oh the beauty of a woman doing her thing. Oh the empowerment of “me too.”
I have needed to see women loving God, loving others, and loving themselves. Praise God, He always gives us what we need.
It seems like, if you really knew the God who understands the physics of our existence, you would operate a little more cautiously, a little more compassionately, a little less like you are the center of the universe. – Searching for God Knows What, Donald Miller
The internet is a beautiful, wonderful, terrifying, big, harmful, healing place. The internet has shown me some of the women I needed to see. One of those is Sarah Bessey. Sarah Bessey writes beautiful and true pieces about life. She writes encouraging and challenging things but from a place of controlled calm. Sarah Bessey has shared on her blog and in her books about her personal faith journey and how she had to take some time away from church because it was the next right thing for her to do.
Sarah Bessey gave me permission to wander, to seek, to not have all the answers. She reminded me to look where Jesus is because there we are safe, even if we are lost and broken and have no idea what on earth we are doing.
We were made to be lovers bold in broken places, pouring ourselves out again and again until we’re called home. – Permission to Speak Freely, Anne Jackson
Like most grandmas, my grandma likes to crochet. And she’s good at it! One time I asked her if she could crochet me some pot holders and three days later she gave me six freshly-crocheted pot holders. Six! She’s a machine!
This week my grandma delivered a total of 40 scarves and 20 blankets to the cancer centers of two local hospitals. 40 scarves and 20 blankets! And she did the same thing last year and the year before and the year before. She uses her crocheting needles to love people! She does what she does, what she would have been doing anyway, and she dedicates her time and the work of her hands to others. She uses what she knows to love people, to pour out herself through her crocheting year after year.
I want to be like her when I grow up.
Watching great people do what you love is a good way to start learning how to do it yourself. – Yes Please, Amy Poehler
It is a wonderful and miraculous thing that I sit here as a 27-year old plus size woman who has never once hated her body. Isn’t that crazy? I never remember looking at my body and hating what I see. Isn’t that miraculous? I’ve had stretch marks since puberty and always have at least a zit or two or twelve. Yet someone I’ve made it this far without hating or starving myself.
Isn’t it heartbreaking that that’s a miracle?
While it’s true that I never hated my body, it wasn’t until just recently that I have celebrated my body. And why shouldn’t I? As a bulletin board at the inner city daycare where I worked during college once read, “God don’t make junk.” I was made in the image of a loving and lovely God. The same Creator who made rainbows and mountains and rivers and flowers. And He looks at creation (which means me and you!) and says, “It is good.”
But man it’s hard to love yourself these days. So I needed to see other women doing it! There are a lot of self love warriors out there these days, fortunately. My most recent inspiration is a woman named Dana. I follow her on Instagram. She is a plus size yoga instructor. Hallelujah! She is beautiful and she loves her body. She’s the woman in the picture above. When I see pictures of her I think, “If her stretch marks and back fat are beautiful, maybe mine are, too.” And guess what? They are. And so are yours.
Love is the most important thing. The very most important thing. But love takes effort and action. It doesn’t happen accidentally. Maybe right now you don’t have the energy to love God or love others or love yourself. I understand. Life is freaking hard. But you can look to us, to these women – we can look to each other – to be what we need to see. When you need to remember what it looks like to love yourself, when you need permission to love in your unique and messy way, when you need new ideas for how to love others, look to your sisters! We are doing it, but we can’t do it alone. We need each other and we need to see each other.