EMPOWERED. What a big, gorgeous, audacious word! The beautiful line from our SheLoves Manifesto cries out from my heart when I think of what this word could mean to us all: “Let us be women who say, YES to the beautiful, unique purpose seeded in our souls.”
I carry this word–empowered–over my life as a blessing and also as a weighty and significant responsibility.
I am surrounded by people who speak “yes” over me. I was never more aware of this than on the day I was ordained into pastoral ministry.
It was a glorious Easter Sunday morning in 1986, the day that my husband John was going to be ordained at a special service in Seattle, Washington. The excitement was palpable as our church community of 200 people piled into buses and drove for three hours from Vancouver, British Columbia. I couldn’t have been more proud or more excited for my husband. His story was filled with miracles and this was a moment to mark and savour the faithfulness of God in our lives.
When we arrived we were asked to meet with our pastor. There was something important he wanted to discuss with us. He felt strongly that he should ordain both of us that day. I am pretty sure I could feel my knees buckle under me—this was a brandnew thought for me. Before I could offer up a single word of doubt or fear, John added his encouragement and full endorsement and told me that he knew this was God’s plan for me and for us as a team: together we would build God’s Church.
In my heart, this felt so right, but in my head I struggled with thoughts of what people might say or think. Having grown up in a church community where I had never seen a woman lead, this challenged everything familiar to me—but I followed my heart and said yes to the unique purpose and calling that was already seeded in my soul.
After agreeing to be ordained alongside my husband, I desperately wanted to find my parents in the crowd of 6,000 people. I wanted to prepare them for what they were about to witness and I wondered how they would respond to my news. True to their character and convictions, they hugged and blessed me and told me they were excited to see this miraculous moment unfold.
That day I truly felt empowered as I was propelled forward into destiny with all the love and support of those who mattered most to me: my husband, my pastor, my parents, family and church community.
That day, standing right next to me were three young girls–my daughters, Angela, Danica and Ashley–who witnessed a moment in time that changed their mama’s life and ultimately shaped their future as well. They were on the “other side” of my yes, and as a result, they have never had to question a woman’s ability to live empowered to lead. Their view is open and wide and for that I am forever grateful.
I do sense the weight of responsibility of living free and empowered to be all that God has called me to be. All is not well in this world, and my freedom needs to find expression to serve those around me.
There is so much work to be done and we need to live awakened to the reality of what is begging for our care and attention all around us. Whether we are working alongside organizations like Watoto to Keep a Girl in School, or fighting for freedom through the work of A21, or calling our sisters young and older to rise up and find their voice for such a time as right now, as a community of women who love, we must never settle into a comfortable ease while multitudes wait on the other side for us. We must choose to speak up and act on behalf of those who have been disempowered and have no voice.
The words penned by Marianne Williamson speak to this so vividly:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
My treasured SheLovelys, I pray that as we walk forward together, we go with confidence, knowing that we are equipped and empowered to become all that God has called us to be. I pray that we will continue to push through the hard and dry places knowing that there is still much work to be done, but as we rise together with strength and courage in our great God, fueled with His love and grace, we will see a new day dawn for many who have walked in darkness and despair. This is my heartfelt prayer and my firm conviction.
“The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!” –Habakkuk 3:19, Amplified Bible