(International Women’s Day | march 8th)
*fair warning: this is a long one.
As International Women’s Day approached this year, I was thinking about all of the women in my life. I thought of my mom, my sister, my grandmother and my best friends. Mentors, teachers, friends and classmates crossed my mind. These are women with whom I’ve gotten to share life (what a gift!!) and some that I’ve admired from afar. Their words of wisdom, shouts of joy, gracious encouragement, and welcomed hugs have influenced and shaped me.
I also thought of the women that I get to share life with here, students at the University of Montenegro. These are the ones who share life with me across tables in smoky cafés, on long nighttime walks around Podgorica, over dinners in our kitchen, and everything in between. This is what I got to share with some of them on International Women’s Day, and what I want to share with every woman in my life:
The question of the day is, “what does it mean to be a woman?” I ask two questions in response to that.
What does the world have to say about us as women?
I hear that we SHOULD be: powerful, independent, successful (have a successful career, have a phD, raise 5 children, cook dinner every night, and support your husband), beautiful, elegant, mysterious, lovely, funny, wise, charming, confident, a good friend, loving, caring, kind, sexy, chill, genuine.
I hear many different definitions of who I should be – currently, there just seem to be a lot of expectations for who we need to be to reach True Womanhood.
What does the God of the Bible have to say about us as women?
This is something that is close to my heart because it has so profoundly impacted my life. I have spent a lot of time in my life paying close attention to myself. I have tried to mold myself into this picture of a perfect woman (I’ll come back to this later). The reason that I am so inclined to change, prod, and mold myself is because I have a deep need to be accepted and loved. Many women, myself included, often look to men to fill that need. I have this picture of this perfect man and one of my deepest desires is for him to choose me, to look at all the other girls and choose me over all of them because of, well, True Love. Or something like that. I want him to pursue me and tell me that I’m worthy of his affections.
Now, women, we take that desire to be pursued and try to mold our personalities around it to make ourselves into that one who is chosen by Perfect Man. This is so dangerous! I don’t think it’s the best thing for us to be living in a shell of a woman that we’re not. But this craving for acceptance, love, and the affirmation that you’re worthy – that’s real. I believe that we were created with that desire and that these are questions that we’re all born asking: “am I okay? Am I worthy? Am I lovable?”
Keep all of that in mind, but set it aside for a moment. Okay.
Now back to the question, “What does the God of the Bible have to say about us as women?” He says that he knows you. Every single one of you. He knows your desires, your passions, your quirks, the things that make you sad, the things that get you excited. He knows the things you love. He really does. He knows you deeply. But not only does he know you, but he also cares for you. He truly wants the best for you and he knows the best for you. He knows that he created you for the purpose of being in a relationship with him. Because in the Bible, when we listen to what he says about us as women, he is saying “Hannah, I choose you. I love you. I want you. You are my beloved.” (Song of Solomon 4:1) The God of the universe – the creator of life and earth, has picked you. He says that if you receive my gift to you that is Jesus, you are worthy. You are accepted as a daughter of the King. You are loved.
He chose you. He is pursuing you. And this relationship with God, I can tell you from experience, is infinitely more satisfying than a relationship with any man. He is more trustworthy, more faithful, more loving, more accepting, and more gracious. And the bottom line is that he loves you. He really, really, really, really, loves you.
Every one of us was made for a relationship with God. If you are curious about that and have questions, please ask, I would love to share with you what the Bible says about how you can come into a relationship with Him.
Now if I can go back to what I said earlier about molding myself into a woman who is perfect, I’ll tell you a little bit about what this truth about God loving me has meant in my life. Last month, I was walking through an airport with Perry. I was talking about how I believe that I can please everyone; somehow, I can make everyone happy. And she said, “Han, it sounds like you’re Frankensteining a personality for yourself.” In other words, creating this personality for myself that would be pleasing for everyone – this Hannah was really nice, really sweet, and perfectly loving. She never had a problem with anything anyone did because she was so afraid of someone not liking her. So I sacrificed my uniqueness and my real personality for this fake one because I wanted acceptance. These last few weeks have been a process of God showing me that I am already accepted in His sight and that His sight is the only one that matters.
Now, I get to live in the reality that I am loved by God, I am fully accepted by him, and I don’t need to work hard to get his love or anyone else’s. It’s incredible. Our God is so good, friends.