This One’s for the Girls

I spent the last few days trying to process one of the most beautiful weekends of my life. To spend three days with 7,580 women from all walks of life was incredible. I am humbled to have had the opportunity to breathe the same air and share the same space. We came as strangers but left as sisters 72 hours later. Done is better than perfect, so here are my top three takeaways from RISE weekend, Dallas. (If you’re not familiar with RISE, you can read about it here.)

1.) Stand Up for Your Sisters

One entire day was dedicated to owning our past, admitting our greatest struggles and joys, and being honest about who we really are. The air in that arena filled with pain–raw pain from recent loss, suppressed pain from childhood, you name it. Sounds heavy, but it was freeing as well. At one point, we were asked to own those experiences; the ones that make us who we are today. On a sheet of paper, we checked those that applied to us – anxiety, depression, loss of a parent or child, infertility, whatever it be. We folded up our stories, passed them around the arena and opened the story of a fellow sister moments later.

Let me tell you the story of my sister. She was physically and emotionally abused, raped, experienced anxiety and depression, and hated the way she looked. I didn’t know her name but could feel her pain in those tear-stained check marks across the white page. Bless this woman.

Then, we were asked to physically stand up for our sisters and their stories. Though anonymous in a room of 7,580, my sister’s pain was seen and held sacred in the hearts of others as I stood for her checked boxes. You would not believe how many women in that room hated their bodies, had considered suicide, or were survivors of rape. Some women literally lived through it all. Bless.

*A quick personal note: If you are going through a difficult season in your life, girl, you are not alone. You are seen. You are loved. You are worthy. You deserve the world. You were made for a reason, even if you don’t know what that reason is just yet.

In standing up for our sisters, we acknowledged their pain. For some, this was the first time they had ever shared the secrets of their heart with the world. The chains were lifted; the load made lighter.

As women, we often present the front of perfection. Our Instagram and Facebook feeds are picture-perfect proof. We try to look like we have it all together, we try to be strong for our families, we try to do it all. But living the lie of perfection is exhausting. We try so hard to impress others that we often fail to acknowledge, process or own the stories of our hearts–the stories that really and truly shape who we are.

Also, can we talk about competition for a second? As women, why do we act as though we’re in competition with other women? At work, with friends, in our families–we try to outdo the other and become jealous of her accomplishments. Why do we do that? We are stronger together. We can do so much more when we stand up for the other. Yes, I said it; cheer on your sisters! The achievements of other women do not take away from what you have or who you are. So, ladies, stand up for your sisters!

2.) You Were Made for More

Rachel Hollis is quoted for saying, “you were made for more.” We were all made for more. We are more than the experiences of our past, our fears and our struggles. Think about this for a moment. What if everything you’ve ever experienced–every hardship and every joy–what if it all was shaping you into who you were made to be?

I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason; some things just happen, in my opinion. However, I love this idea that every happening in our lives can have purpose or be used to launch us into the wonderful beings we were created to be. The experiences you’ve had? Guess what? No one has walked the exact path you’ve walked, which means no on can pursue the dreams of your heart better than you. Everything you’ve been through, everything you will go through–all of it–can somehow be used as you seek to live a meaningful life in pursuit of your dreams. This is what I believe, anyway.

3.) We Stand On the Shoulders of Giants

At one point during the weekend, we were reminded that “we stand on the shoulders of giants.” I love this expression. I am able to live my life, a life full of blessings, because of what happened years and years before me. My life is a cake walk compared to the lives some of my ancestors lived. The freedoms I have today, SO many of them were fought for by women and men I’ve only read about. And here I am, decades later, living a beautiful life, with the ability and means to pursue my dreams every. single. day. Seriously, so many people, women in particular, fought for the rights I have. Lives were lost, blood was shed, heartbreaks endured. Yet, I sit here some days and talk myself out of pursuing my dreams for ridiculous reasons rooted in fear. Get a grip, girl.

Think of a giant in your life. Who’s lifted you up on their shoulders, time and time again; who’s sacrificed for you; loved you; and inspired you beyond belief? Think of them the next time you come face-to-face with fear in pursuit of your dreams. Think of them the next time self-doubt creeps into your mind. Your giant is your reason to keep going. They’re the reason you push forward, you try again, you take the leap, you dare to dream big.

My giant is my Grandma Ruth. Some day I’ll tell you the approximate 1.2 million reasons why, but that’s a blog for another day.

With that, friends, stand up for your sisters; know you were made for more; and honor the giants whose shoulders you stand on, make them damn proud.

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