This past month, Chelsea and I stayed with a community of women who have survived human trafficking. Often, I was the only male. I was challenged and confronted constantly by how men have inflicted such deep wounds on these women and was led to reflect upon how I may have diminished women in my attitudes or behavior too. I am no human trafficker. Still, in my life there are times when I could have spoken up more or said something else or just spoken less, done something more or done something different or let somebody else do something.
At the beginning of the month, we did a physical reflection on 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Each phrase was posted somewhere in the room and we were asked to move to the part that stood out to us. Alone, I stood at “Love always protects.” I thought about the women I was around – such faith and hope, so strong and resilient, with so many dreams for themselves, their families and communities. They had just spent the morning speaking these dreams out. These women are incredible. They have capacity and skills and unlimited potential. These women were all mistreated by men. We live in a world where men often put themselves first, often misuse their strength and power to serve themselves instead of to protect and serve others. These women and so many others have lived through that reality.
When it came time to share, I was asked to share first. I said that it was ironic to be first, because I felt God telling me that here and beyond, I should choose to be last: To always protect, always put these women first, always demonstrate how valuable they are in God’s sight, to try in whatever way possible to honour the beautiful image of God in them. I told them that power is meaningless unless it is given away to empower others, and strength is not real unless it is used to strengthen others. I prayed and continue to pray that God makes me the kind of man who loves and protects and strengthens and serves others.
I am grateful for the past month and the specific challenge it brought me of what it looks like to be a Godly man who honours, encourages, empowers, makes space for, listens to, protects, and loves women well.
We would be so much the lesser without strong women in our world. I certainly would be! May we encourage, grow and celebrate women always, and speak against and reform those things that work against this.
I am so grateful for my sisters who graciously shared with and taught me. I am grateful always for the incredible women I know and those I don’t, those I was raised by, those I serve with, am lead by, have been privileged to lead, and am blessed to love. And I’m grateful for the women who have influenced them. Thank you for your fierce love, courage, commitment, faithfulness, and strength – I am grateful.