This is the first post in the Empowerment Series.
Empowerment is one word that has often been touted by development agencies, NGO’s and even government departments in their goal for justice and fairness.
According to Kofi Annan(former UN Secretary General), “There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women.”
Being empowered has been defined “as making someone stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life.”
This is an excellent definition for a few reasons, it highlights the key aspects of the word.
Control, strength, confidence and choice.
Do you want to be an empowered woman? You probably do and I do as well.
Being empowered could also be a way of getting back what was lost. Of refusing to accept deprivation of and taking advantage of what is available. It could also be defined as a revelation of one’s authority, in this instance, one’s authority over their life.
As women, do you ever feel like we floundered over the years? To have gone through so many phases, from rejection to self-actualization, to adoption and a sprinkle of confusion.
Sometimes, I feel like we’ve lost our essence, like we’ve lost who we are(and were meant to be) and allowed the world to define us.
Fighting the Blame Game
Till date, we still hear of those who blame women for the “fall of man” and all the calamities that followed. For this reason, they believe that women should have no say in the important issues of life. This may have been the premise for centuries of discrimination, subjugation and lack of rights for women.
But it goes further, being told you are something is one thing but believing it and acting on it is a whole different matter.
We may have, knowingly or unknowingly, allowed and accepted many lies about our abilities, about our intellect, about our rights and about our adoption as children of God.
Have we, knowingly or unknowingly, accepted lies about our abilities, about our intellect, about our rights and about our adoption as children of God?
In those moments, it’s easy to forget who we are and whose we are. Thereby living a life of “less” because of our fear of the unknown. A fear to explore God’s far-reaching blessings and plans for us.
For some of us, these fears have been ingrained in our hearts and minds and make us cower in the face of opposition.
My dear Sis, do you believe you have been empowered?
Understanding our status as empowered Christian women
In the beginning, God created us(male and female) in his image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27) and entrusted us with dominion over the earth. But man fell through the disobedience of Adam and Eve.
For centuries after this, we paid dearly for that very choice. The choice and freedom, which had been given to us became the very things that led to our death, our spiritual death.
But even in all this, God was making a way to bring us back to him.
Through the death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ, God reminded us that we still matter to him. Through his ministry on earth, he showed us that he wanted us back even if we had had five husbands (John 4) or had committed adultery (John 8). When the world sought to curse the woman, he saved her.
When the world sought to curse the woman, he saved her.
“Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
He reminded us that no man was better than the other and by his precious blood, we have all been made whole.
God reinstated us with his seal of paternity and we are, once again, daughters of the most-high.
God reinstated us with his seal of paternity and we are, once again, daughters of the most-high.
Believing that we have been empowered
But what have we done with this good news?
Are we still living a life of less? A life where we are defined by our past mistakes, not just ours but those of all the women before us.
It seems somehow we are unconsciously allowing the labels and stereotypes stick and forgetting what the Lord has said about us.
Allowing the labels that tell us we can’t amount to anything, that we are not smart enough, good enough, strong enough to be anything.
We forget the Lord who says, “…before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” Jeremiah 1:5. We forget his plans for us, are for our good to give us a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11.
We forget that his love is bigger than anything we can ever think or imagine, and nothing, absolutely nothing can separate us from this love. See Romans 8:38-39.
I’m going somewhere with this, I promise. But I need us to pause for a moment.
Letting go of the Scars
What have you been holding on to that you know you need to let go of? What label have you internalised and accepted?
For a long time, I felt I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, tall enough. I defined my life by my physical appearance and my exam grades. This meant I tilted between a superiority and inferiority complex depending on how I was looking and how good my grades were.
As you can imagine, this stifled my growth and my interactions. I was too concerned with my emotions to live a life of freedom and victory.
Have you lived a life of less because you felt you were too tall, too short, too rich, poor, old, young, single, married, not pretty, not smart, or from the wrong family?
Have you lived a life of less because you felt you were too tall, too short, too rich, poor, old, young, single, married, not pretty enough, smart enough, or from the wrong family?
As you can imagine, there are an endless array of things that can hold us back from living a life of more.
Maybe you have adult acne and it has made you shy and introverted or you slept with more men than you can count and believe you are now worthless.
In those moments, there is the danger of looking at our relationship with God through our distorted view of our worth.
Do you think God loves you less because you fornicated, you cheated, you lied and lived the “worst life” possible?
I can confidently tell you that he doesn’t.
First of all, we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. We are all imperfect but he hasn’t given up on us. We are still work-in-progress and it is only by God’s grace and mercy that we continue to live a life worthy of him.
But hear me, I’m not saying that since we are prone to sin, we should continue as usual.
No, certainly not. I believe God wants a contrite heart and broken spirit (see Psalm 51:17). He wants us to hate the sin, to abhor the acts that are not of him. Not making excuses or expecting that he will understand.
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!”
He wants us to come to him for strength and the power to overcome every trial and temptation.This doesn’t mean we will never sin. No, it means that we are aware of our actions and limitations. It means that we understand whose we are and are not afraid to be open and vulnerable before him.
An empowered Christian woman in today’s world
God made us women for a reason. Not because we are less but are different. He empowered us to do his will and achieve our purpose on earth. But what are we doing with these gifts he has given us?
Are you defining yourself by the clothes you wear, the need to please others, the insurmountable guilt you often feel or the sense that any success you achieve is a fluke?
Every day, we read about feminism that is characterised by a sexual revolution and excesses but that’s not what true empowerment is.
Yes, I want to be an empowered Christian woman but not in the way the world sees it. My empowerment is not tied to how many men I sleep with; the things I can buy or the work I do. Neither is it in my marital status or child rearing.
No, it is in boldly proclaiming the word of God without fear or rancour. It is in knowing my identity and working with a sense of purpose.
It is in making the most of where I am right now and where God wants me to be.
You are an empowered Christian woman
Whatever happens, never forget that God gave you the power to choose, he gave you free will so that you realise that your life’s trajectory will depend on your choices.
He gave us the power to choose because he wants us to come to him of our own volition. To choose him because we want and need him.
But it doesn’t stop there. Being empowered is not just about the major questions of purpose and destinies. It is also in our everyday lives and our day to day decisions.
It is also in harmonising who we are when no one is looking and who the world sees.
May be you have accepted many things to keep the peace, to avoid any issues but you know that you should have spoken up, you should have been real.
We are supposed to be the light of the world and I will be honest and say many times we are the dimmest ones in the room. I know I have been afraid to shine, been afraid of the skeletons and the shame.
Is this the same for you?
The way forward
In popular culture, we have heard words like “lean in”, “sit at the table”, “speak up”. And I agree, we need to do these things. But I don’t believe the fight of the woman is just about equality. No, that is only distracting. It is one of identity. It is one of being yourself and revelling in it.
It is about building a community of empowered women who love and support each other. It is about doing away with competition and comparison.
I have often noted that many times, women are not supportive of other women. We can’t allow this anymore. We are a part of the body of Christ and have to build each other up.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…”
1 Thessalonians 5:11
We are not the enemy as we are sometimes made to believe. We are in a war but not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers and rulers of the dark world. Ephesians 6:12
In our fight to be heard, we may lose our voices if we are screaming at the wind rather than whispering, allowing the waves to carry us through.
“When women succeed, nations are more safe, secure and prosperous.”
I can’t claim to have the answers. But I do have some suggestions and maybe a few things we have to start thinking about as women of God.
The words of an empowered Christian woman
- I can no longer hide in the shadows but have to come out into the light.
- My life has been redeemed and made whole. I can no longer walk as an incomplete being waiting for the perfect day when all will be well.
- I have direct access to the eternal spring of living waters that will never run dry and I know if I abide in him, I will never thirst again.
- Which means I can no longer walk around, in search of something I already have. Something that was a free gift. A gift available to me at any time and any place.
Dear friend, we have to wake up. We have to walk boldly into the throne of grace. Remember Queen Esther, she did it and she is reminding everyone of us that we have what it takes to live an empowered life.
We are a generation of empowered women because he has made it so. Now, it’s time we lived as he has purposed.