Valentine’s Day may have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean the celebration of love has. At our Chikondi Community Center Valentine’s Day Party, we switched it up a bit this year. Rather than celebrate the typical relationship love, or even the trendy “Galentine’s Day,” we celebrated a love that impacts all else. The love we have for ourselves. Not a prideful or selfish way, but a dignity-affirming, worth-giving, life-speaking way. In a culture that tells a woman she can only become one when having a child, and once she is one, her only value is found in how she keeps her house, cares for her children, or serves her husband, self-worth isn’t really a thing. Women are involved in emotionally abusive relationships, not realizing that isn’t the “norm,” that a person should never be spoken to with words of hate, no matter the excuse. Some women in our program are even in physically abusive marriages, where they are taught to quiet down, to suppress their opinions and emotions, and perform their “woman” duties at home. Now we recognize that we can’t change these toxic happenings when many facets of them are woven in and out of culture. It’s a complicated issue and a difficult topic.
But what is neither complicated nor difficult is to take a Friday off and just speak life into our own souls. To appreciate ourselves. To gain confidence. To refuel and rest to be more effective in our own homes.
So for the woman who is the gossip of her community, who is constantly told that she should be ashamed of her past for having a child out of wedlock, she is reminded that she is worth loving, that her past does not define her, that those words do not shape her.
For the woman who is abused by her own husband, who is silenced by his dominance and manipulation, she gets to realize that she is more than her circumstances, that her worth isn’t defined by him.
For the woman who had to drop out of school and can’t cling to her accomplishments for her identity, she gets to see through the lenses of dignity to see that who she is matters. She has valued qualities within her that can and are impacting the world. She is enough.
And when I spoke these words of life and freedom over the ladies on Friday, I felt like I was also speaking them over myself, and over each one of you. Ladies, let’s kick those insecurities aside and celebrate who we are. Let’s stop looking to the right or to the left for indicators of how and who we should be, and instead celebrate who we were created to be: unique, inspiring, valued, worthy, loved, affirmed, enough. From over 6,000 miles away, there are 50 women who are embracing the beauty within them, and cheering you on to do so also.
While these blog posts are usually reports of what happens here for you to enjoy there, let’s make this one a bit different. Let’s connect the dots, let’s close the gap and realize that though cultures and miles (and an ocean) may separate us, deep down we’re all the same. We all wrestle with feeling like we’re enough in a world that tries to define us, with hearts that sometimes (lots of times) lie to us. Let’s recognize that there are beautiful, unique, purposed attributes in each one of us that can be used to bless the mess out of our families, our friends, and this world- but we’ll only get to if we see them clearly enough to embrace them.
What do you love about yourself? For me, I love that I am passionate (read: a driven, independent leader-type, but passionate sounds cuter). A quality that sometimes seems counter-cultural to the woman I believe I should be, yet a quality that has been placed within me for this very purpose. I can’t wait to hear what you love about yourself. Fill in the blanks with us: I love that I am _______. And go!
With love for each one of you uniquely beautiful ladies (and handsome gents), Amy + the ladies of CiH