Recently I had the opportunity to pray for people at a conference who wanted to grow in influence. It was a conference put on by some of my heroes, Steve and Wendy Backlund, called "A Day of Breakthrough." When Steve was talking about becoming an influencer he made this statement, "If you believe you are an influencer, you are an influencer." Here he highlights a foundational biblical truth: "For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he," Proverbs 23.7. We can't change our lives unless we change the way we speak, and we cant change the way we speak unless we change the way we think.
I prayed for several men, but far more women. I was struck by the fact that every single woman said some version of this: "I've been told that I couldn't speak, or that what I had to say wasn't important. This has taught me that I was not an influencer and to remain silent." They were all in the process of making agreement with Steve's statement, but these lies had greatly shaped their journey. In ministering to them, we acknowledged the lie, replaced it with the truth that they are indeed an influencer, a beloved child of the Most High God, growing in favor with God and man.
I was captured by the congruence of what they were saying and my own journey. I grew up believing that the only appropriate occupation for a married woman was to stay home and raise their children, a la Leave It To Beaver. Anything outside of this was seen as striving, and the family unit would invariably suffer if the woman were to work outside the home. Women were made to cook, clean and keep the house tidy for the husband who was supporting the family. The only appropriate course for a single woman was to find a husband. I believed that women couldn't minister, and couldn't teach at church (anyone except children). Until I was 36 years old, and as yet unmarried, my only dreams were to be a wife and mother so that I could serve my husband. I felt powerless to do anything else, and still believed that as a woman my influence on the world could only be in joining forces with a man. My unworthiness was compounded by the fact that I had not yet found a man to call my husband.
But there were dreams deep within my heart. They were dreams I had been unable to tap into, but at age 36 I began to see a glimpse of the truth of who God made me to be: an author, a speaker, a jewelry designer, as well as a wife and a mother. I began to see firsthand powerful women that were able to do both, and I was also observing couples that were successfully sharing the obligations of home life. Thankfully the world has changed much in the 42 years that I've been on the planet, and the advances in technology alone have very much improved the way that we live. I knew that in order to fully walk out my divine destiny, I would need to push past the lies that I'd been taught. The lies sounded like:
- I am a woman, and therefore cannot change the world.
- Men are the only qualified people to effect change through ministry, speaking, and writing books.
- My life will always be less-than until I am married.
- I must have multiple graduate degrees, speak numerous languages to be taken seriously as an author.
- My story could never bring freedom because I'm ashamed of my past.
- God can't redeem me.
- I will never speak publicly because I'm scared.
- No one would take anything I write seriously.
Our thinking must change, and our minds must be renewed to know and recognize truth. I've learned that it is often only when we speak the lies that we believe aloud that we can start to realize the absurdity of them. One key that I learned from Wendy Backlund is that if you wouldn't say it to counsel a friend, it's probably not truth. The enemy has launched a powerful attack against women, but we are starting to see through his attempts to silence us. We are beginning to recognize the truth of who God made us to be, and see what a co-laboring union between husband and wife can look like. Confident, loving men are beginning to come alongside us and lend us their strength.
My message is still evolving. It is drawn from what I have battled to become. It sounds like truth. You are powerful and free. You have a divine destiny that only you can fulfill. You were created to be uniquely you on purpose by the Creator of the Universe. When you realize who God created you to be, you'll never want to be anyone else. You are a beloved child of the Most High God. You are the head and not the tail, ever expanding, never defeated. You have everything you need to be successful. All of heaven's wisdom is available to you. You are seen, you are known, you are loved. You are beautiful. You are changing the world. We are all becoming. We are all in process. We must draw from the deep well that is within us, and bravely tell our stories. Shame flees in the face of authenticity. Courage begets courage. Only you have authority over your story. It is yours alone to tell. In community, we are able to recognize lies more quickly and be reminded of truth. As women, we must realize that our voice is important. Our story can change the world. It takes vulnerability to tell it, but it is in this tender moment that we connect with our sisters and band together, more powerful together than apart.
Share the truth of who you are with someone today.