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The “girl power” movement isn’t a new concept. From women’s lib in the 60s to the modern, Disney channel version of female empowerment, our girls are being told they clearly have something to offer the world, and it’s something fierce and worth fighting for.
And whether we’re shopping for toddler t-shirts at the Childrens Place or listening to pop radio, it’s clear to see that girl power is alive and well.
As I think about what this message is teaching this generation of women, I realize there are both positive and questionable aspects to be found within it.
As a Christian mom, I want to make sure that my girls understand their true worth which is found in Jesus alone.
Here are my thoughts on how to frame the “girl power” messaging in a way that is based on the truth of the Gospel.
Created in His image, Yet Distinct
Mankind was created in God’s image, “male and female he created them.” (Gen 1:27.) Our loving God made us to be like Him, but we’re not all carbon copies of each other- thank goodness, right?
God made our girls unique to fulfill their unique purpose and calling in this life. One of those purposes is to bear children – and that’s a pretty amazing “power” that only women can possess!
Not everyone is called to be a mother, but it is a God-given privilege that shows the tenderness he has given the female nature, to be nurturing towards the smallest and most helpless humans.
Not only are we different from our male counterparts, but we’re also given individual gifts and strengths to serve God’s kingdom in different ways.
As moms, we can encourage our daughters to use these “powers” (in a sense of the word) for God’s glory. We can embrace all of that which makes us female – but also appreciate the uniqueness of each woman who has a purpose only she can fulfill.
Read next: Staying Kingdom-Focused in a Selfie Saturated World: A Letter to my Daughter
Different, not less OR greater
It seems that one of the cautions in the Girl Power messaging is that we don’t exclude or demote the value of males while we’re celebrating what it means to be a woman.
As the Word tells us again, we’re BOTH created in God’s image. He has a plan for male and females to complement one another.
Even though the male is the head of the household in a Godly marriage relationship, that does not make the female any less.
We’re simply called to model the relationship that God has with all of us, so that we don’t feel the need to compete.
Only one can truly lead.
In a largely feminist, progressive society you’ll often hear these roles referred to as “gender stereotypes” or a form of “patriarchal oppression”.
No, not every woman is meant to be married. Not every woman will have children either.
But regardless of what role we take and where God leads us, we’re still under His authority and we were created to submit to Him.
When we understand who God really is, His overwhelming love should elicit no less than the worship that He truly deserves.
Unity in Community
Women are relational, meaning we like to share our hearts and, well, we like to talk about things! We find community in like-minded friends who share our values, support us and encourage us in life.
When I asked my girls what they think of when they hear the phrase “girl power”, they expressed that in their mind, it meant getting together with friends and having fun without boys.
As I asked a few clarifying questions, they added that they didn’t think of girl power as something to exclude boys, but to appreciate each other as girls and the things they have in common. And, to understand that they can enjoy the company of good friends without needing the attention/affection of boys. (Whew! If only they can hold onto that thought a little longer!) 😉
This is why girls love to have sleepovers and just do ‘girly’ things together. It fulfills that we’re in this together type of camaraderie that we long for.
It’s clear that women need each other to lean on. I believe we are also called to serve other women within our churches, mentor and be mentored and show Christ-like love to women around us who also need Jesus.
When we join together with women who share our faith and have our best interests in mind- there is truly power in those incredible connections.
Given a Spirit of Power
In Acts 1:8, we’re told that as believers, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you”.
When our girls accept Christ as their savior, they receive the spirit of power – the very power of Jesus, living in them.
This is the key difference in the world’s view of our “power source” and what the Bible tells us.
Where the girl power message basically directs girls to discover the power within themselves, somehow self-produced — the Bible gives us something much better.
Because as much as we want to celebrate who we are as women (and that’s ok!), positive affirmations alone won’t save us from our faults, our failures and our sin.
Feel-good merchandising and slogans can only encourage us temporarily. Eventually, the weight of the world will cue us into these truths.
We can only pull ourselves up by our bootstraps so many times before we realize that we need more than to be simply told we’re “strong women” to feel good about ourselves.
We need more than to know we can “be anything” or climb any corporate ladder.
We need more than self-love which eventually, brings disillusionment and emptiness.
What we really need most, as women and men, as children of God, is to accept His power and believe in the worth He has already assigned to us. We need to have access to THE power that not only saves, but can sustain us in every way.
Girl power isn’t a lost cause, but it’s a narrative that I believe we need to reclaim as women of God. Our creator is FOR us, and He understands the desires of our hearts.
We need only to remember that God’s power is much greater than girl power – and it’s available to all.
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• Advice for Managing Girl Drama in the Home (when you’d rather run away)
• The Beauty of the Tween Years