I kicked off this year reading the memoir of our former First Lady, Michelle Obama. It was 2018’s #1 seller for good reason.
There is a lot that I adored about this book (I couldn’t put it down), but perhaps the most significant is this:
Eight years ago today Brian and I brought our Ethiopian son and daughter home. They landed on U.S. soil and they had a black President and First Lady. For the first time in U.S history there was a family occupying the White House, leading the Free World, that wasn’t white. Whatever your politics (perhaps especially because of your politics!), this matters. Over the next 6 years my son and daughter were able to see themselves in places of influence and with powerful voices. Having a black First Family formed their mindset of what’s normal. It gave them a model of what’s possible. It cast vision.
As a female leader, I’ve worked hard these last few years to learn from women and people of color. My 2018 Books I Loved list were predominantly by women and/or people of color. Their voices matter and I learn so much about my own Imago Dei and the character/nature of God through voices on the fringe. I can honestly say that I’ve learned more about God and myself from those not like me than anything else. Voices from the fringe have become beautiful, sacred teachers in my life.
This past weekend I finished Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming. I hated it to end, but as I closed the final chapter my daughter came out to the couch where I was sitting. She asked if I was already finished reading it (it’s over 400 pages!). Shocked at my amazing speed reading skills, she plopped down next to me and started flipping through the pages. She spent probably at least 15-20 minutes pouring over the pictures in the center, asking all the questions, and finally asking if she could read the book. She was drawn to the book because of what she saw, and it looked like her.
Yes, we fill our kids’ library with stories about people of color, but there’s something unique about a present day heroine showing you what’s possible. I saw it in Addise’s eyes as her 8 year old self looked at our former First Lady’s giant book. What if? What’s possible. Can I be like her?
Representation matters for my daughter, but it also matters to you. It matters that you see other women who’ve done what you want to do. It matters that you can see a way forward, even if it seems like there are glass ceilings and barriers to hurdle. It matters to know that you can do it AND keep your soul it tact. It matters to believe that you can fulfill your calling as a leader AND as a wife or mother. Representation matters for our sons and husbands. It matters so a more complete picture of the Imago Dei is expressed in every organization, church, and business.
Representation matters so you know you’re not alone.
I’m insanely committed to empowering women and people of color in leadership. If I didn’t have women investing into me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. And because I spent 10 years as an ethnic minority in a local church AND I have a daughter of color, this layer is even more important to me. When our world is equally lead by women, my work will stop. Until then, I’m here.
That’s why I’m throwing myself even deeper into coaching, training, and equipping women. This year, you may need a coach and some accountability to get from here to there. If so, let’s connect. Join a coaching group (one for women starting soon) or commit yourself to 1on1 Coaching.