rising together.

Today is International Women’s Day. You all know I am a passionate advocate for women and write about it all the time here. Our equality is all tied up together. Unless we’re all free, none of us are free, and it’s important to always remind ourselves that well behaved women won’t change the church (or history). Equality is a verb.  The boats need to be rocked, and the path forward means we will have to educate, advocate, agitate, and that usually always comes with a cost. Some of you may have already seen this, but I wrote this post for SheLoves Magazine last month for the theme of Rise and thought I’d share it here in honor of today.

I’m extremely grateful for all of the strong, amazing, beautiful, vulnerable, wise, compassionate, humble, tenacious, resilient, courageous women I know. And i’m also thankful for the men in my life who value women in tangible ways, give away power, cultivate equality and honor women in all kinds of wonderful ways.

We do need each other.

Women are strong. Women are resilient. Women are brave. Women have been nurturing hope, cultivating community, tending to children, binding up wounds, blazing trails, changing minds, pioneering new adventures, breaking glass ceilings, falling down and getting back up since the beginning of time.

So many have gone before us.

The paths they forged for equal rights have made our road less bumpy. The example they set for possibilities for change have inspired us. Their courage broke down walls and opened seats in the front of the bus.

Today, I thank those mothers of justice and mercy and freedom who birthed something new, generation after generation, always believing in what could be and making sacrifices on others’ behalf to help us move forward.

And now here we are in the year 2017. Women have come a long way thanks to those who have gone before us, but we also have a long way to go.

There are many who will come after us who need our leadership and hope.

The women who will come after us need us to rise against inequality and injustice and division and hate. They need us to ensure the progress we have made in our world is not stripped away in a crazy concoction of politics, privilege and power.

I live in the United States, and we are in a very troubled time in our history. White male power is reigning in our government and the most vulnerable—women, children, people of color, the disabled, refugees and immigrants—are deeply at risk. Some of the rights that those before us fought for, are being dismantled. Many of us are overwhelmed at the reality we find ourselves in and aren’t sure what to do that will make a difference or stop the backward landslide.

Here’s what I hope and pray we continue to do as women, also alongside brave humble brothers: we rise.

We rise.

We rise because we must remember those who have gone before us, those who sacrificed themselves for our freedom. We must honor their work with our resistance and resilience.

We rise because our daughters and sons and grandchildren and young people need us to rise on their behalf to ensure their dignity and value is preserved.

We rise because we are called to vulnerability and courage and strength, to nurture life and cultivate healing and shalom as people of Hope, made in God’s image, called to incarnation in a dark and divided world.

We rise because we know deep in our hearts that the kingdom of God won’t just drop out of the sky, but we are part of creating it.

We rise because we must not let evil, oppression, hate, discrimination, division, and war win.

We rise because Jesus told us, “Whatever you do to the least of these you do to me.”

We rise because the fire in our bellies and the stirring in our hearts won’t let us go to sleep while the world breaks.

We rise because the work of our sisters and brothers before us cannot be for nothing and because those who come after us need us to do something.

We rise because we must.

We rise because we are better together.

I feel honored and privileged to rise and stand alongside you—in spirit, through the internet, or in real life—to honor those who have gone before us and sacrifice what I can to advocate on behalf of those who will come after us.

In the words of Maya Angelou (watch this video!), “but still, like dust, we’ll rise.”

May the next generation remember us as women who continued to rise.

Happy International Women’s Day, friends.

Here’s to strong women. May we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.

Keep rising. 

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

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