Our Daughters are Watching

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Nichole Forbes -Daughters are Watching2

In February, I had the opportunity to attend Rise Up, Sister! in Chiliwack, BC. We spent four days sharing our stories and discussing issues of justice and equality and collectively raising the voice of women in the world. It was an empowering and yet comforting time and I am deeply changed by the time spent in the company of such women.

I went there knowing no one but Idelette, so I was slightly terrified to walk into the room that weekend, but the 99 strangers I met soon became my sisters, my tribe. We bonded over common histories and diverse experiences. We celebrated each other’s successes and mourned with each other in our losses. We compared tales of motherhood and womanhood around dinner tables and prayer circles. And we took pictures. Tons and tons of pictures!

In the weeks since returning home, my social media feeds have been flooded with encouraging messages and countless pictures from my 99 new besties. We are continuing to learn and grow together even though we are all well into our regular life routines. Every day, someone posts a picture or leaves an encouraging comment on someone else’s wall and we all jump in to “like” the ongoing sisterhood we see. I play along, too, “liking” the bona fide lovefest that fills my feed—and so does my daughter.

The first few times I noticed that my daughter had “liked” a picture or comment left by one of my new friends, I thought it was very sweet. I loved feeling the love from my teen girl! After a few days of my girl liking and occasionally reposting the pictures and quotes, I realized my daughter was watching.

She was witnessing all of it.

She watched strong, intelligent, godly women celebrate, encourage, support and elevate each other. She saw how we spoke to each other and about each other. She followed along as we accepted the uplifting words and noticed what we said about ourselves, and what we said about women in general. She was watching and she was taking it all in. As I watched her watch us, I began to wonder what else she is seeing, what else she is taking in.

My daughter heard her pastor say that Jesus was a man’s man. And then she heard a boy in her school threaten her with a degrading sexual act. She listened as her teacher told her she should be flattered by the attention the boys were paying her, even though she felt unsafe and vulnerable every time they touched her or cat-called her.

My daughter has seen powerful men in the media belittle women’s place in the world simply because they are not men. And then she sees theologians debate about where a woman’s place really is, as if it should be anywhere other than where God has called her. She sees men in the church confine female Bible teachers to the church basement where the children and women are waiting, hungry to learn, while the main pulpit stands empty.

And she takes it all in.

But then my daughter also sees loving and courageous women on social media celebrate each other’s strengths and successes. She listens to podcasts and hears amazing female pastors and speakers teach about a Jesus who values and esteems women. She reads books by women who write about a God who created women in His own image—whole and perfect just as they are.

She sees women rise up in business, in the arts, in the church, in every corner of the world. She sees them rise as leaders and advocates. She sees them intelligently and diligently championing for freedom and safety and equality. She sees their strength. And then she reads notes from women in her world who remind her that she is intelligent, gifted and magnificent. And she takes it all in.

My daughter watches as a shift in her understanding begins to occur. She sees that Jesus defies macho stereotypes. She sees that she gets to decide who touches her body and who affects her mind. She sees that a man’s opinion of her capabilities does not trump what she knows to be true about herself. She sees that God, not a tradition of patriarchy, gets to decide where women are meant to be and that decision was made at the beginning of time. Argument over.

My daughter watches and she feels brave and strong and capable. She feels seen and heard. She feels valued. She feels the love of the godly men and women in her world who call out and name the gifts and strengths they see in her. She feels audacious and unbreakable as she sees herself reflected in their words.

And she takes it all in.
Oh yes, she takes it all in.

I rise not to elevate myself but to elevate my daughter and all daughters who are watching and wondering if the dream in their heart is possible. I rise because I watched my mother rise to elevate me. I rise, because God is calling forth His daughters to take their place alongside His sons, because there are dreams to dream and visions to see and prophecies to speak into reality and this can only be done in connection to and in support of each other.

I rise, because my daughter is watching.

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Nichole Forbes
Nichole is just a regular gal loved by an extraordinary God. She believes in community, justice and freedom. She tries to live brave everyday and to say the kind words that need to be heard. She raises her three Not-So-Wee-Ones in the middle of the Canadian prairies with her favorite person ever, her husband, Brad. On an average day you can find her running errands in her really rad mini-van while sipping coffee and rocking out to The BeeGees. She blogs and is the author of Finding Me in Him: One Woman’s Journey to Discovering Her Identity in Christ.
Nichole Forbes
Nichole Forbes

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Nichole Forbes
somerandommother http://somerandommother.blogspot.ca
  • Yes, so much yes. That’s one of the key reasons I am pushing for women’s inclusion in preaching and leadership in my church – so my daughters can see it. I fight so they won’t have to. It is so important to surround our daughters with good, healthy, vibrant, strong, diverse women, to let them see that in our own lives. Thank you for sharing this, Nichole.

    • Nichole Bilcowski Forbes

      Yes! I SO agree! Our daughters (and sons) need to see women in action. They need to hear their voices and perspectives. Yes! Keep fighting, sister!

  • YES!!! Last weekend I joined in with some of those same women via video chat for SheLoves editorial meeting (SO sad I wasn’t able to make it to Rise Up with you all, so longing for that encouraging community you got to experience). My daughter kept sneaking into the room to listen into these incredible women’s voices. She made comments about how pretty Idelette is, or asked about accents and who was who. I thought that was all she noticed. Later I heard her talking about being a “dangerous woman” and rising up. She was listening. She was taking it in. She said, “mommy, I’m a dangerous woman, too” and we talked about what she believed about women in ministry and her place in the world. And I was reminded how important it is that I keep rising as she watches. Such a good word and encouragement today, thank you!

    • Nichole Bilcowski Forbes

      Thank you for raising a wee women who is already prepared to rise! It takes all of us to create a space for our daughters ❤

    • Nicole, I *loved* seeing your kids join us at meeting. Poking their heads in to investigate. The best🖤

  • Betty Parmenter

    Yes! Words of truth. Compassion, understanding, beauty, justice and community of faith. For All our Daughters. Together. Thank you for these words today!

    • Nichole Bilcowski Forbes

      Yes! Thank you for reading these words and hearing my heart ❤️

  • Robin Baldwin

    Lovely words to remind us how much our daughters are watching!

    • Nichole Bilcowski Forbes

      Thank you!

  • sandyhay

    At my house it’s granddaughters. Gabi age 14, can’t stop talking about feminism. She did a power point for school and the research has her pumped. At dinner last night, she related a happening at school about the difference in a teacher’s response to her and then a totally different response to a boy over the same thing. She was furious. I see her standing up and speaking up. She’s watching, asking LOTS of questions. We talk about how different it was for me growing up in the 60’s with about 2 choices for college, nursing or teaching. And now for her,i t’s endless. Gabi was our shy child but not any more. She’s rising up…at a much younger age than her Grandma. So let the younger lead the older. 🙂

    • Nichole Bilcowski Forbes

      Sandy, I love this! My daughter is also 14 and I love to see her sense of justice rise up in her and make her bold. These daughters – and granddaughters- are fierce and audacious! I love it! ❤

  • This gave me goosebumps.

    • Nichole Bilcowski Forbes

      ❤ xoxo

  • I love this so much Nichole! Although I have no children of my own yet, this makes me more aware and excited as to how the girls who are in my life are watching – and rising. What a beautiful gift you are giving your daughter! And I LOVE that you walked in knowing no one but Idelette, and then “99 strangers I met soon became my sisters, my tribe” – WOW. That is stunning and I’m so glad you could be there – and share this with us!

    • Nichole Bilcowski Forbes

      Motherhood comes at us in a lot of different ways. I believe it’s more of a heart condition than a physical situation. Our daughters are the ones we live and nurture no matter how they’ve come to us – or how long they stay. And our mothers are the ones we sit at the feet of and learn from – no matter how near or far we are. ❤ Rise Up for your daughters, Lovely, they are watching!

  • Jen Hansen

    I love this Nichole!