We live in a modern world. We are often blinded by distractions and every now and then we need to be reminded of things that the modern world doesn’t tell us. As a woman I think that is especially true. As a disclaimer, I’ve aimed this at women, since being one that works for me, but I’m sure you guys can find some merit in this too.
So here are my 10 things the modern woman needs to know but doesn’t hear often enough:
1. You were created for a purpose.
God has a unique mission, a unique purpose in mind for your life. You were created for love and to love. Listen for God’s graces in your life. They happen constantly, whether we are aware of them or not. God is willing your heart to beat, willing you life. We cannot will it for ourselves, or stop our heart beating by thinking about it. You can’t give that gift to yourself. Use it.
2. You are Beautiful, but don’t spend too much time dwelling on it.
You are made in God’s image and likeness. The pinnacle of creation. However, the ‘beauty’ of the image of women in the world is typically a distortion and skewed picture of this. It is an artificial, made up and photo shopped version. Don’t fall for the fake beauty. Use your beauty for good.
Beauty Redefined wrote a great piece on how we travel through life thinking of ourselves as ‘looked at’. How we get caught up in appearance instead of experiencing life. My favorite bit of the article is this: “Remember you are capable of much more than being looked at. And when you begin to realize that, you can start realizing the power of your abilities and the good you can do in a world so desperately in need of you. NOT a vision of you, but ALL of you. What will you find you are capable of?”
Internal beauty is far more important than the deceptions we are offered. As Archbishop Fulton Sheen said: “The beauty on the outside never gets into the soul. But the beauty of the soul reflects itself on the face”. This beauty is catching. It isn’t a beauty that has come of vanity. It is authentic, deep, soul changing beauty.
3. You are incomparable.
You are beyond compare. It is human that we compare ourselves to others. We want to conform. We envy what we see of others lifestyles, lack of burdens and we all seek true happiness.
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)
“Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” (2 Corinthians 10:12)
God created you for a unique purpose. The person who is next to you in your class, course, workplace, mums group, youth group, family or friends might seem like you but is nothing like you. Right now they might seem like you, might seem to have it better than you, but God created them with entirely different talents, gifts and sufferings than you. Differences that are often hidden. And God has an entirely different path of life set out for them than you. Focusing on their purpose and God given gifts will not lead you or your heavenly father to glory.
By focusing on our own unique purpose and God’s mission for you, you can grow in virtue. You can fulfill your purpose. You can be open to listening to the graces around you. Who knows, the grace might be that person next to you who you are comparing yourself to
4. You are worth more than the media says.
We often think about what we put into our bodies, but not what we put into our minds. Junk media. It isn’t hard to be distracted in our media world with bright lights and commercial agendas. But it’s important that we be an active audience. This means to actually process and discern what you are watching, not just mindlessly absorb. We are dumbed down. A great quote from Adolf Hitler is “what luck for rulers that men do not think”. We need to step up and challenge ourselves with what we think about.
5. You have a voice. You are a modern missionary.
In the modern world, the message of Christ needs to be tailored for different audiences, and more soundbyte savvy than ever before. We need to use the same tricks of persuasion that everyone else does. We need people who can live counter culturally and be a voice to the world for it. This doesn’t mean standing up in the media, but merely standing up in normal life.
Through Christ we have the power to turn hearts in our everyday ‘little things’. Counter-cultural voices are needed to make change. Against abortion, seen as a ‘women’s right’, against the way women are presented, against countless other ignored modern atrocities. Your voice could be all that makes a difference. In saving lives. God is calling you to change minds and hearts.
“I need missionaries—souls are not bought” – Jesus to Mother Teresa
5. You are strong
We need to count ourselves lucky that we live in a place and time when generally our biggest problems aren’t actually big problems. First world problems. The majority of women in our world don’t have that luxury.
Already you are a survivor. Don’t forget that being a female is dangerous. More female babies are aborted, based purely on sex. 1 out of 5 women is sexually assaulted in her lifetime.
We women are capable of childbirth. Throughout history strong women have continued humanity, literally birthing it. Raising the next generation. Enduring all kinds of hardships and struggles. Influencing much in the world. Both in the lead and behind the scenes. We are strong.
6. You are called to be courageous
It takes bravery to live counterculturally and to be a voice standing up for what you believe in. All good things take courage.
“The hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of women is being acknowledged in its fullness, the hour in which women acquire in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at his moment when the human race is undergoing so deep a transformation, women imbued with a spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling” – Vatican II
7. You are called to be challenged
“Education consists essentially in preparing man for what he must be, and for what he must do here below, in order to attain the sublime end for which he was created,” – Pope Pius XI.
Don’t let your self settle for less than you deserve. Use your time wisely. This doesn’t mean that you have to be and do everything. I think there is enough pressure on women these days to do and be everything. We are “supposed” to have the career, the family, the looks, the community service, you name it. Discern where God is calling you to make a difference. Change the world. Challenge yourself beyond your comfort zone and sow bountifully (see 2 Corinthians 9). That is the way to become a saint.
“The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort; you were made for greatness.” – Pope Benedict XVI
8. You are complementary.
It isn’t a war of the sexes. It is easy to forget that amongst the way our culture “banters” around the opposite sex. John Paul II remarked that the dignity and balance of human life depends on every moment of history and in every place upon who men will be for women and who women will be for men. Our influence is reciprocal: Each can drag the other down or inspire the other to become better. It lies with you.
We need to inspire ‘the other’ to sainthood. Through our own actions, not through trying to change them, or even change ourselves’. We compliment each other. Men need us and we need men. To do this we need to treat ourselves and ALL around us with dignity.
9. You need God
What are we without God’s grace? We need Christ. It is hard work, no it is impossible, to do life without it. In the words of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, we need God to supply what is wanting in us.
“For if they are not in love with God—they will not be able to lead this life of continual immolation for souls.” – Mother Teresa
10. When things seem most pointless, they can be most fruitful…
Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the papal household, once explained it this way:
“A mother . . . goes home and begins her day made up of a thousand little things. Her life is literally reduced to crumbs, but what she does is no little thing: It is Eucharist with Jesus! A religious sister . . . goes to her daily work among the old, the sick, the children. Her life too might seem split by many small things that leave no trace at night—another day wasted. But her life too is Eucharist. . . . No one should say, ‘What use is my life? What am I doing in this world?’ You are in the world for the most sublime of reasons, to be a living sacrifice. To be Eucharist with Jesus.”
The “crumbs” of our lives are gathered together and bring hope to other people. Each one of us is a treasure of the Church.
May our ‘crumbs’ create Eucharist with Christ.