Quiet Anthem

Honest Faith :: Bold Vulnerability

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Girl's Worth: In Response to the Call

NOTE: This essay is in response to a call to write for Tamara Out Loud, who asks:What’s a girl [or woman] worth?” My post in June, We Will Dance, initiated me into the emerging phase of my life, where I am not afraid to tell you where I've been, what's on my mind, and where I hope to be

AUTHORS: If you'd like to share your testimony of having overcome, please visit The Anthem Exposition, where your piece will be considered for publication and, if accepted, become our featured anthem. 

I’m the type of girl who loves other girls; it’s what I’ve been created—and called—to do. Even still, I’ve had to dodge punches from girls, and even women, who sought to knock me out of competition.  But I didn’t show up to compete; I showed up to participate, to find community, to love. I want to see Jesus’ prayer in the garden—that we would be one—come to pass during my watch, in my generation.

Several years ago—before I got married, before Facebook—a quintessentially snarky girl from junior high (the kind of girl who doesn’t wait until you’re out of earshot to make fun of you) saw my MySpace profile and contacted a mutual friend. She typed in a message: “OMG. Did Renee Bhatti get divorced? Because her last name is different on her profile but it says she’s single.”

My friend told her the juicy news: I was using my middle name, and I was—and had always been—happily single. It’s been seven years and this girl has not tried to befriend me through MySpace or Facebook.

I’m left wondering why she would have cared if I had been divorced. She hadn’t liked me in junior high, probably because I didn’t fit within her parameters of beauty or sophistication.  She is not interested now in knowing about my steadfast faith, or solid career, or burgeoning marriage, or spirited children. She just wanted the dirt. She wanted to be certain that her assessment of me was correct. When she found out it wasn’t, she ignored me.

I keep my friends. I keep secrets. I entrust my secrets. My wedding party consisted of a woman I’ve known since I was two, another I’ve known since kindergarten, my college roommate, and my sister-in-law. The timeline of when I met the guests at my wedding and recent baby showers stretched back into the nineties. I’ve known for decades the people I correspond most often with via social networks.

When I was twenty-one, I began hosting small, but effective, conferences—Renaissance—for young women because none that I knew of existed and, as a young woman, I wanted community. So I tried to create one, and I’m willing to do them again if anyone would be interested. Now, well into my thirties, I’ve recently launched The Anthem Exposition, a web community where women can share their anthems of having overcome adversities of any kind. I’m doing this because I know in all our years, we women have seen manifestations of hell on earth—but we’re resilient. We’re not alone, either. In telling our stories we can overcome together, as one, and recognize that in announcing our vulnerabilities, we become strong.

Recently, many women—on much larger and louder platforms than mine—have echoed my desire to create harmonious female relationships; they recognize that junior high mentality will not suffice if we are to see the Kingdom of God flourish on earth, as Christ promised it would.

In the Bible, there are few examples of women coming together: Sarah scorned Hagar; Leah resented Rachel; Martha tattled on her sister Mary. There is one example, however, in which women united: after Mary discovered she was pregnant with Jesus, she went to her cousin Elizabeth’s house. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice, the baby within Elizabeth’s womb—John the Baptist (whom I like to call J the B)—leapt. The Bible speaks of the women embracing one another, even sheltering each other as mothers of prospective prophets. One was the mother of God’s son.

It is the will and sovereign plan of Jesus Christ, this Son of the Living God, for women to become sisters, sanctuaries, for one another.

When women choose to acknowledge the beautiful within their friends—that which makes every woman unique—there exists no jealousy or pettiness for, by honoring God’s presence in herself and in other women, a woman fulfills Christ’s ultimate command: do as you would have done to you.

Women need assurance; we need affection; we need acceptance. Many of us may seek for these things in a husband; the spiritual find them in God. This is good. However, it is not enough. Humanity functions at its best when women gather together to do what we were created by God to do: nurture. Of course, we nurture our homes, our husbands, our children, our careers. But do we nurture other women? Do we seek out the most precious—the sacred—in other women, those women who may be our competition, who may even be winning, and help them be better stewards of their homes, their relationships, their responsibilities, their callings?

It would be revolutionary for us to have a corporate change of mind: we will not tear down another with our words, our thoughts, or our negligence. We will choose to see the value in every person we meet, and we will acknowledge it in her.

Once we affirm each other, we are affirmed in our need to nurture.

I have been blessed to have friends sojourn alongside me for decades. We are not catty; we do not gossip; we are not afraid. Instead, we send each other messages recognizing one another’s greatest strengths: You are lovely when you do what you were created to do.

Both Abraham and Isaac, when travelling through a foreign land, lied to the king that their wives were their sisters, to avoid dying if the king wanted their wives to himself. Jesus, in a prophetic reversal, recognizes that women are not only important, but we are worth dying for.

The Christ child, born of a virgin, looked down at his mother years later when He hung from a cross. Then Jesus looked to John, his best friend in life, and bequeathed Mary, his mother, to John’s safekeeping.

By the end of the weekend, several women arrived at Jesus’ tomb to discover Jesus was not there. Thus, Jesus’ first encounter post-resurrection was with Mary Magdalene, whom Jesus had rescued from seven demons and from a pack of hypocrites in whose fists were rocks, ready to be shot forth. Magdalene became the first evangelist of the resurrected Jesus. Demons and men, perhaps even other women, had deemed her worthy of death. Jesus restored her value. He proved His love for Mary—and for every woman—by acknowledging her, by healing her, by giving her voice.

Women were created to speak. Our God-given abilities to perceive, to protect, to nourish, to birth, will not die—or be silenced. 


Tamara Out Loud said...

Proud to join my voice with yours, sister. We are each other's keepers.

Serena Abdelaziz said...

Excellent! I have dealt (all too often) with your Junior High experiences, and it's a SAD testimony when it is also from my Christian friends. 
I pray that this article sinks deep in to my spirit and helps to break down walls.  I love that you said you weren't showing up for a fight!! 
Loved this!!

Renee Ronika Klug said...

Indeed, we are. Let's be revolutionaries. 

Renee Ronika Klug said...

I, too, pray that it'll sink deeper into ALL our hearts. Division is not of God. Thank you for your constant support and encouragement, Serena! 

Shari Lopatin said...

Yea, I was bullied at that age too. "Puny legs," and "weak." My favorite, "God Shari, you're so WEIRD!" LOL! Now I embrace my weirdness. It's what's helped me begin reaching success as a writer. But I digress. I think you bring up an excellent point here, but might I make a small contribution? Women also need to learn to nurture THEMSELVES. I don't mean with makeup and shoes, but emotionally and spirtually. I think many women cut others down because they aren't happy themselves. They have low self-esteem. If we concentrated on nurturing ourselves, nurturing others (including other women) would come naturally.

Renee Ronika Klug said...

Shari, This is a great point. I could also add that nurturing others helps you see your own worth (it's a reciprocated, and still so complex, dichotomy). I've noticed that taking the focus off myself helps tremendously in my being kinder, better, to others. But, I still nurture and love myself more now than I ever have. 

You're also on to something when you point out how our struggles early in life contribute to our being able to write effectively. 

Thank you, friend. 

Carolyn Counterman said...

What a breath of fresh air. How lovely. A woman who actually wants to love on women in the way God intended. I might have to stick around here for awhile.

Renee Ronika Klug said...

Carolyn--It would be my pleasure. Thank you. I do hope you'll stick around, comment, and let me know what's on YOUR mind--and what, if anything, you'd like for me to write about. Let's be friends! -Renee

Shalle Bosman said...

Ok, I am going to cry.  This should be published everywhere. Can I send this to all my girls?

Renee Ronika Klug said...

Of course, Shalle! I would welcome--and thank you--for it! I so appreciate your generous feedback. 

Kelsi McMartin said...

Yes! I agree Renee. Let's do all we can to raise each other up.  Thank you for this. 

Kisa Konrad said...

I love it Renee.  And I couldn't agree more!

Renee Ronika Klug said...

Thank you, Kis! I feel like you, Kels, Nic and I have been forerunners  in this! 

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