~~ Genesis 2:18 (ERV) ~~ Then the LORD God said, “I see that it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make the companion he needs, one just right for him.”
by Carley Cooper
Today is International Women’s Day (IWD). Here in Barrie, Ontario the IWD event is hosted by the Women & Children’s Shelter of Barrie. I’ve become more aware of this day and why it is important in the last couple of years through an Abuse Survivors Support Group that I go to at the shelter’s outreach office. I want to share you something that I learned about International Women’s Day in another country that has inspired me to realize how blessed I am, and yet it reminds me of how far I’ve come, and how far I have yet to go.
I was at the doctor’s office about two weeks ago at the hospital. I think he’s awesome, and I tell my doctor about all the big things that happen in my life. After my appointment was over, I was literally on my way out the door when I remembered something so I turned around and said to him “Oh, I forgot to tell you... I’m going to be speaking at the International Women’s Day event with my Abuse Survivors group next month.”
“Is that the thing on March 8th?” he asked.
“Yea, that’s it”, I said
With a big wave of his arm to motion me back into the room, he said “Well, come back in here and sit down. I have to tell you a story.”
So I went back in, shut the door and he told me his story.
Doc is originally from Pakistan. Back in 1990 he was still living there, he worked for a large international conglomerate. I don’t remember the name of it off hand, but it’s one that we’ve all heard of, and their purpose is to help people around the world. He said they had to decide on an event for IWD. A few ideas were tossed around, and he suggested that they have a parade through the city with people carrying torches. Sound’s awesome, doesn’t it?! At the end of the meeting, this was the event that they chose to do. However, this raised some problems. The big one being “Where do we get torches?”
He said “I mean, who uses torches anymore?”
They figured that they would have to make them, but how? They decided on clay pots shaped much like a bowl that could hold a ball of fabric filled with kerosene, and placed on a stick. They searched the city for someone who could make these pots and there was no one. They searched elsewhere around the country and found, in a small remote village, an old man who made his living hand-making various types of clay pots. He helped them design a pot that could be shaped such that it could be placed on top of a stick and still hold some fabric and kerosene; and the torch for IWD was born. Doc told me that, from that first parade until today, the torch has become the symbol of IWD throughout the whole country; and it all started with an idea by one man that is now one of my regular doctors right here in Canada. Awesome idea, Doc! Thanks!
At first I just thought it was a cool story, but I couldn't stop thinking about it. More ad more I realized just how profound this symbol of the torch really is. Granted, I’m not a sports minded person, but up until I heard this story every time I saw a picture of a torch I thought about the Olympics. From now on, when I see this symbol, I will be reminded of how far women have come in our world. We can look back to our history books, the bible, or even just to talk to our Grandmother’s; to see the extreme changes and advances that womankind has made through over the years. The torch will be a symbol for me to think about how proud I am not only of all my sisters around the world and throughout history, and all these changes, but of how much I have overcome in my own personal life as well. I have overcome so much that I’m writing a book about my story. That's a big accomplishment, if I do say so myself.
However, I don’t think that the important message of the torch stops there. We are incredibly blessed to live in an age and in a society where we get so many advantages and opportunities; especially here in North America. That being said, it would be really nice if winter would just GO AWAY so I can take out my tank tops and flip flops. Uh, well anyway, it’s important to remember how far we have come in our own personal struggles and through womankind as a whole; but we can’t forget to remember our sisters in other parts of the world who don’t have the privileges we have here.
Even as survivors of abuse; and certainly some of our stories are absolutely horrifying and horrendous mainly due to the men in our lives; we have access to resources and social benefits that can help provide us with everything from food, to a home, legal support, protection, medical care and so much more. I certainly don’t want to make light of those who are in situations who cannot leave an abusive situation because it is just too dangerous. That happens all too often even in every neighborhood in North America. However, I think that often, we take it for granted that we can function either as a married person or as a single person and it is OK. As women, are getting closer and closer all the time to being equals with men whether the man next to us collects garbage from the curb or he runs the whole country. For the most part, we get to openly worship God in any way we choose. We can walk up to any person on the street and start a conversation if we so choose to do. We can choose to go to school and educate ourselves. We can dress how we want to. We can be proud to be female and feminine. Personally, I love to be girly, and dress in things that are pretty and sexy. I see no problem with having an extra button or two undone on my blouse. If it’s done in the right way with the right outfit and fashion sense I think it is overwhelmingly beautiful.
That’s not to say that any of us are finished our fight for equality. As a matter of fact it’s far from it. The truth still lies in media head lines that tell us that women are judged when she wears a skirt too short, or a top too tight, or she takes birth control, or she would like to apply for a job in a typically male dominated industry or she has too many lovers or dating partners. There are still thousands of people, men in particular, that still don’t understand that women are not a commodity, that we are not here for the purposes of pleasuring or serving men. Some of our sisters around the world are still living under practically prehistoric conditions. There are places in the world today... right now in 2012... where a woman is not allowed to walk down the street side by side with a man. She has to walk behind him to show her status in society. She is not allowed to have a conversation with a man who is not her family member. She has to dress to keep her whole body hidden and often that includes most of her face as well; never mind showing a little extra leg or cleavage to feel pretty or sexy. These women know nothing of these feelings or feminine experiences. She’s not allowed to speak out and give an opinion, let alone worship God, be an entrepreneur, get an education or live a single independent life. If she does any of these things the men in her life have a every right to punish her; or worse. Then, there's the issue of human trafficking and the sex slave industry, which is a massive and extensive problem in practically every country in the world.
I hear stories like this all the time and I get so overwhelmingly angry. It touches me to the pit of my soul. This is why I think the torch is so important. All women are beautiful mind, body and soul; and we should be cherished and encouraged to be share, be open, and equal. We are here for God’s purpose and His pleasure; not man’s. Ephesians 2:10 (TNIV) says “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God made us to be a partner for man; not his maid, sex slave, chauffeur, cook, or his punching bag.
My dear sisters, you may think that you haven’t done enough in your life to fill a whole book about it; but that doesn’t matter. I guarantee that you, that you have accomplished enough to carry a torch and be very proud of what you’ve accomplished and survived. It’s fun to be a girl! Enjoy every part of it. You are beautiful and you deserve the torch. Pick up your torch, let it shine brightly, and march with the rest of us if you haven’t joined in already. We will not give up marching, and we will not let our torches go out until the abuse, discrimination, and cruelty stops; and safety, respect, and equality is achieved. And, while you’re marching, don’t ever forget to say lots of prayers for our sisters not only around the globe in other countries, but in your own neighborhood, who feel they are trapped in a hopeless world who need us to pray for Jesus and the Holy Spirit to move in their lives every single day. They need to know Jesus. They need to know that they are beautiful, loved and there is a way out for them.
(If you or a woman you know is in an abusive situation and can’t get out, contact your local Women and Children’s Shelter. They will help you put together a Crisis Plan that will get you out and get to safety. I know you may think you're trapped and it looks impossible, but God loves you, and we love you. There are resources in place to get you out!)
~~ Dear God ~~ Thank You so much for all the blessings that we get in our society today, but we are still suffering so much from abuse, discrimination and cruelty by evil men in our lives. Please put Jesus in the center of each and every situation. Please send your best angels to surround and protect each and every woman who is in danger and needs protection. Keep all of us close to Your heart, Lord; and let each woman know that she is special and that she is beautiful and loved by You. ~In Jesus name, AMEN.