What does the power of women look like? It’s something that I have been thinking about recently. I’m 29, single, working in a steady job, fairly intelligent, fairly successful. What am I supposed to be aiming for at this stage in my life? I know that my life and purpose are not going to magically come together when I get married or when I have babies (even though I want both of those things). The last thing I want to do right now is kill time. I want to DO things and be ambitious. What is my power? How do I pursue glory? I think sometimes the terms woman power or strong woman conjure up images of Rosie the Riveter (We Can Do It!) or Beyoncé (looking fierce and intimidating and sexy all at once) or Anna Wintour (the editor-in-chief of Vogue choosing what we will wear next year). Or maybe that’s just want my brain leaps to….
Does our power lie in what we can accomplish? Is a powerful woman self-reliant, able to achieve success in her career and life? Does a powerful woman put herself first? Does independent success equal power?
Does a powerful woman exude confidence? Does she draw attention to herself with her words or her talents or her body? Is she intimidating?
Truth is, accomplishments and self-reliance and confidence look like what we think power should look like. True power hides in long hours and hard situations and pain. The power of women is in giving ourselves away. It doesn’t matter if you are 3 years old or 96 year old, whether you are going to school, working, or raising a family. Wherever you are, you are surrounded by people who need love and need you. Success sometimes doesn’t like success.
As women, we are designed to give ourselves away. The most obvious example is pregnancy – while babies are developing, they rely on their mothers for absolutely everything. The mothers support two lives at once – two people in one. But a mother does not become less of a person as she gives and gives and gives. She can give herself all day, every day and never be less herself. There is a way of giving that builds up the giver and the receiver, but women can also give themselves to things that destroy and consume, whether it is an emotion (like envy or bitterness) or an ideal (like a perfect body or a perfect family).
It matters what we give ourselves away to. It matters what we do. Even when it looks like we aren’t doing anything out of the ordinary. Building always takes time and building people up can seem like an unbearably slow process. But you can’t know how much your gift means to somebody else. Encouraging words have tremendous power. Kind actions have a power beyond what we can see.
No matter what stage you are at, you can do this. Are you going to school? Befriend that kid who has no friends. Be kind to your teachers – they have a hard job. Are you working? Go above and beyond to help your coworkers. Be quick to help customers (even when they are unreasonable). Take the hard jobs. Switch shifts with the single mom who wants to be with her kids. Are you married with kids? Give yourself to your husband and children. Feed them. Hug them all the time. Smile at them. (Smiles also have a power beyond what we can understand. Smiles are amazing.) Women are glory creatures. Women are beautiful, and we are most beautiful when we are kind.
So be ambitious. Make and pursue big plans. Use your brain and use your talents. Just go out with the right drive and motivation. Set out on your adventures ready to give yourself away, ready to sacrifice, ready to figure out who you are meant to help today. Use everything you have to bless other people.