Yesterday was International Women’s Day and as I went to bed last night, I thought of the many women who have influenced me and made me who I am today.
I have grown up watching women sacrifice themselves quietly for their families and beliefs. I have seen women cling together, standing strong and holding the weak members of their tribes closely. But when I think of my own journey of becoming a woman, of maturing, I realize that I became a woman in Tanzania.
When I moved to Dar es Salaam at 24 I was young, immature, and very much still a girl. The four years I spent there shaped me and formed me in ways I could never have imagined, and there were nearly countless women who enabled that process. In Tanzania, I met women like I’d never encountered before. Women young and old who were strong, compassionate, kind, and undeniably beautiful. Women who weren’t afraid to tackle the challenges of daily life alone, women with grit and determination, and yet women who were unspeakably gentle, full of grace, and classy too. I met women who fought for justice and mercy on the streets, and other women who took that battle to the UN and international stages. These women loved Jesus and loved their neighbors. They joyfully welcomed each newcomer to their tribe and then mourned the loss of each one that left that ever-changing family. In the middle, these women laughed together, cried together, served together, celebrated together, shared together, prayed together, hoped together, and lived life together.
I hope to God that I never forget the many lessons I learned from these women. I pray that I will someday become one of them–one of the many women with the strength of spirit to walk confidently into the many uncertainties of life, with the compassion and kindness to kneel down and help those struggling to stand, with the joy to always smile, with the grace to welcome others in with a hug, and with the class to do it in a cocktail dress with heels and a glass of wine.
To Mona-Liza, Dyan, Gretchen, Heidi, Doreen, Lily, Jenn, Carley, Rhona, Tonya, Sarah, Jackie, Chim, Nicole, Kellz, Naomi, Trudie, Dorothy, Vilai, Ali, Danielle, Sue, Christine, Rose, Eli, Claire, Zoe, and all the others. Thank you for being powerful, wild, confident, passionate, graceful, kind, gorgeous, crazy, determined, fun, and full of love!
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