After my post on Friday I wasn't quite expecting that my journey into exploring what it means to be a woman today would start with such a bang and would start the very next day! I'd been planning to go to the Talitha Koumi Women's Leadership Conference at Tearfund for some time but being busy, and generally spending my time worrying about the prologue of John's gospel and what not, I didn't really have many expectations.
And didn't I get a great surprise! First of all it was extraordinary to be in a room full of Christian women all hugely gifted, colourful and splendid creatures and watching them one by one wipe the sleep from their eyes and do exactly what that phrase demands and arise. We heard about identity from Kate Coleman, whose amazing book I have blogged about before, and about all the things we can do as women to shoot ourselves in the foot as leaders. Desperate need to please, never saying no and allowing everyone else to dictate who you are, anyone? There were so many nodding heads in the room that it was like being in a room full of Churchill dogs (in the nicest possible way!)
There were some absolutely classic sound bites, a woman standing up and pondering why is was she could work in some of the most dangerous conflict zones in the world and lead multi-million pound teams and yet was only qualified to pour the tea in church and a lesson in tackling some of the inevitable flack as a female leader with a brilliant sense of humour from Elaine Storkey, President of Tearfund. There I was with a renowned Theologian and a former President of the Baptist Union in the UK and a hundred women all asking questions just like me and I wanted to stand up, clap my hands and yell 'Thank GOD!' (I seem to be drawn to this standing on chairs and yelling thing fairly often these days!)
For me it was a massively affirming time. I spent twenty minutes with a wonderful woman who was so genuinely excited about everything that I was doing and hoping for that I left with refreshed vision and motivation. And now here I am on Monday morning, with a mixed bag of feelings and all the usual challenges to take on again in my life but that phrase keeps ringing in my ears. Talitha Koumi, Talitha Koumi, Talitha Koumi. Little girl, get up, arise, stand up, be counted. As Kate very firmly said to us, 'Little girl, grow up.'
There are too many things to count that could overwhelm me on this journey, the arrows come from all angles and sometimes from the least expected places. But the way I see it we have two options. We can let the crap that comes our way overwhelm us, we can bow to it, stay quiet and stay in our places or we can get up, grow up and take responsibility for ourselves, our leadership and our lives. What do you want to do today? Who do you want to be? What do you need to say? I say to you: 'Talitha Koumi.' Little girl, arise.