On Saturday, my Twitter feed was ablaze with pink. People were tweeting and retweeting pictures from the women’s march in London and from other similar demonstrations across the western world.
I’ve been aware of the movement since it began, from the controversial hats (you know which ones I mean) to the rainbow flags demanding rights, as well as gender equality when it comes to workplace pay. A full list of what the women’s march stands for is on their website.
I think, as a woman, I can understand the feelings of injustice. At some point in our lives, most women will have been talked down to in meetings, passed over in promotion for a (less-qualified) male. Many others will have faced rape, assault and all manner of other horrors. On a human level, rage, resentment and anger are all perfectly justified.
And yet, why do I find myself unable to join this movement? Something about the sea of pink, the fiery celebrity speakers, shirts and banners emblazoned with slogans, jarred with me and at first, I couldn’t exactly understand why.
And when something inexplicably bothers me, I have to get back to my Bible and figure out where the unrest is coming from. As I did, I had a Kathryn Scott song, I belong to you, playing in the background and all of a sudden the pieces for me, began to slot into place.
Nothing can take me from your great love.
Not hardship, nor hunger, no pain, no depth of sorrow, not weakness, nor failure, no broken dream or promise.
Be set free to know who you are. Be set free from the wounds of the past.
The thing is, when you truly know who you belong to, no one can ever take away your ‘rights’ or your freedom. Not the ‘patriarchy’, not inequality, not injustice.
The truly free woman, a girl who is at peace with God and with others is safe on the inside and nothing, not even hardship or broken dreams can steal that.
Instead, she’s secure, she sees a future, she walks in freedom, regardless of the circumstances, and she sees rage as something which will hold her back.
Some years back, I went to Zambia with work and met an incredible woman named Margaret. I’m still friends (via text) with her today. If anyone had reason to be angry, Maggie did.
She was born into rural poverty and when her husband left her (with 3 children, one with cerebral palsy), she ended up in prostitution, to try and raise money to feed her children. She was gang-raped, contracted HIV and lost her home. Her disabled daughter was later also raped (in an unconnected attack) and became pregnant. The baby didn’t survive and later, Margaret’s daughter passed away too.
Hopelessness on a scale like you’ve never seen before.
And yet Margaret is probably the happiest person I know.
Through a micro finance scheme she was able to leave sex work and started her own business making tie dye clothes. She’s got enough money for ARVs (anti retrovirals) to keep the HIV at bay, she has a new home and you’d struggle to meet someone more full of joy.
I remember saying to her one time, ‘why are you so happy? So many people have so much more than you and yet they’re incredibly miserable?’
Her answer was one word: Jesus.
She was a woman who’d been abused by men all of her life. If anyone deserved to be at the front of the line protesting, she did. But in her heart, she is free. She’s not looking back, she’s not shouting at her abusers, she’s looking up, at a God who sees her true worth and who is always completely fair and just.
I’m not belittling anyone else’s experience. I’m not trying to invalidate how other women feel. I’m not telling others what they should or shouldn’t do. I’m not saying (necessarily) that systems can continue as they are.
But what I am saying is that when you operate from a place of God’s perfect freedom, nothing can dent that. Nothing can change that. Not world systems, not unequal pay, not insults, nothing at all can separate you from his great love.
It doesn’t matter who others say you are. It doesn’t even matter what others have done or haven’t done.
Ultimately, you are who God says you are.
And that’s enough for me.