The world needs your story.

As I read this piece by Sarah Bessey, I so passionately wanted to shake the shoulders of my daughters and nieces. I thought of friends that have been dulled by life’s adversities. My own soul reached out and grabbed the strength and freedom for which Sarah spoke. I thought of women who have gone before me. Women who have traveled greater lengths than I and how strongly their lives guide my own life’s direction.

But mostly, I thanked God that even in times when women are still jockeying for better positions or categorized as focus groups for politicians – that now, in 2012, our worth and value has never been determined by name brand or waist size or networking capabilities. Christ has held us in high regard from the beginning. He has trusted our abilities far greater than we ourselves do, most of the time. We serve a higher purpose. We are loved more than is comprehensible. Our equality was determined at the well and at the foot of the cross and with the halting of a stone’s throw. We are proudly listed in the Board of Directors list of genealogy as a gender of great esteem.

For the women I love so dearly, I lift you daily to God’s care. Your hurt is felt more deeply than you know. Your struggle with popularity or love or acceptance has been felt throughout time by millions of women before; struggling with the same thoughts of inferiority and internal struggle. Do not coddle those thoughts nor succumb to their appeal.

You were specifically created for so much more…

Stop waiting for permission.

Stop waiting for someone to say that you count, that you matter, that you have worth, that you have a voice, that you have a place, that you are called. Stop waiting for someone else to validate the person that you already know you were made to be. Stop holding your breath, sister, working to earn through your apologetics and memorized arguments, and your quietness, your submission and your “correct” doctrine what God has already freely given to you.

Because, darling, you are valuable. You have worth, not because of your gender or your calling or your marital status or your labels or your underlined books or your accomplishments or your checked-off tick boxes next to the job description of Proverbs 31.

In Christ, you have value beyond all of that. You abide in love, you can rest in your God-breathed worth.

Let me remind you: you are loved. And you are free.

What is the cry of your heart? Pay attention to that. Listen to what makes you angry, honour what makes your blood pump faster, what makes you come fully alive. Now go. And do. You know Jesus, you have experienced the power and the grace with your own life, you have felt it in your own heart, now go, heal, disciple, minister, love, and do likewise. Speak, breathe, prophesy, preach, get behind a pulpit, mark exam papers, run a company or a non-profit, clean your kitchen, put paint on a canvas, organize, rabble-rouse, work the Love out and in and around you, however God has made you to do it, just do it. Don’t let them fence you in or hold you back.

Love your spouse, love your babies, love the poor, love the orphans, love the widows, love the powerful, love the broken and the hurting, love your friends, love yourself, love your enemies, come to love the whole world in the fullness of God, in the full expression of the woman that he has created you to be, just that, no more, but certainly no less.

Choose freedom. Choose the freedom of living loved, far from their tables and debates and fence lines and name-callings, their belittling, divisive stereotypes. Extend the gift of freedom and grace, second chances, and more grace, just as you have received them. As e.e. cummings wrote, it takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. You really are created, you really are chosen, you really are cherished, so you really can be who you are. Live counterculture when the culture does not affirm truth, love, faith, mercy, and justice.

It matters because you matter, because your daughters matter, because your sisters matter, because the people of God, and the entirety of his created world matters, because redemption matters. So we’ll keep up the holy work, however that looks, we’ll keep worshipping, keep loving, keep making space for God in the world, and in each other for holy grace to fill. The kingdom of God would be better with your voice, your hands, your experiences, your stories, your truth. You can go where I cannot go, and someone needs to hear you sing your song, you are someone’s invitation.

You are loved.

Rest in your God-breathed worth. Stop holding your breath, hiding your gifts, ducking your head, dulling your roar, distracting your soul, stilling your hands, quieting your voice, dulling your mind, satiating your hunger with the lesser things of this world.

I love you with an unexplained love. I believe in you passionately and am proud of your continued growth. I cannot fathom that anyone could love you more than I do. But He does. So much more. He was your Creator. He knows what makes you tick and what outcomes will bring you the most joy. Trust that. Lean into that. And continue to be the beautiful, shining beam that you are right now. Keep making space in your heart for grace. And a place in your life for Him.

I love you with all of my heart…

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