Welcome to the first interview of my Women of Faith series. I’ll be interviewing a few christian women asking them different questions about the faith and being a woman!
I hope you enjoy this series. It will be done over a period of several months (or until I decide to stop lol). Enjoy this first interview!
I met up with these three beautiful girls and we hung out! It was a fun day filled with banter, bagels and photoshoots in the hipster ambience of East London. Salem, Cindy and Leticia (Tish) answer my questions on what it means to be a woman…
Question: What does it mean to be a woman?
Tish: Well, in general like to be a woman is well to basically not be a guy *laughs*. Women and men have very different things. For me I know I was created, I was created a woman and that’s that. And I think we have different things like different abilities, the ability to give birth and the painful periods. And just other feminine aspects of us, that’s only for women.
Cindy: I think being a woman is about having the ability to be masculine and feminine at the same time. And to own that. I think to be a woman you have to be brutally soft and it’s hard. Being a woman is hard and complex because sometimes we have to sacrifice a lot of things. I think to be a woman, you have to be willing to sacrifice, have to be willing to be brutally soft and it’s about being masculine and feminine at the same time.
Salem: I think when it comes to being a woman, I think it’s about distinguishing that from say femininity and then being a girl. Cos a girl is a child whereas a woman is a grown up. But I think, for me, the first thing I distinguish from a woman is maturity. I would say a woman is mature, not just in physicality but also in her thinking in the way that she approaches life, very mature. When you think of thinking, you would think wisdom because when you are mature, you are wise in your thinking, you are able to make choices, not just based on your emotions and feelings but you’re able to rationalise what is the actual best decision. I think it’s also just being true to yourself. They’re authentic in who they are as a person and they’re confident in that.
Question: What does a woman of faith look like to you?
Salem: I think for me to answer the question, I have to distinguish what faith means, I think that definitely comes from Hebrews 11:1 where it says faith is the assurance of all things hoped for, things which are unseen. When you’re able to define what faith is and you look at what a woman is and put them together. I guess, it is someone who is able to be mature in their thinking, be authentic as a person and actually take that next step, to then not just have maturity in themselves and thinking but also believing in the things unseen. Which is obviously the things of God. Us as women, we are people who actually are bold, who are brave, who are willing to step out, who believe in the absolute impossible because they know that God is the one who makes things possible. They believe in those things that probably would not be seen in the natural become the supernatural.
Tish: I think that a woman of faith, this sounds cheesy but look at Proverbs 31. I did a study on it and Proverbs 31 has been looked at the completely wrong way. If you was to ask yourself ‘are you a Christian?’ you would say ‘yeah’ but if you asked ‘are you a proverbs 31 woman?’ you would be like ‘oh, I aspire to be.’ No, but you are. It says ‘charm is deceptive, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised’. So, if you fear the Lord, you are a proverbs 31 woman. And I think to have faith, is to also fear the God in terms of being in awe and having reverence. That is faith in the God you can’t see. Having that confidence in God as a woman.
When you apply Proverbs 31 to all the women in the Bible, I mean, did they tick off every box? No they didn’t, but they were women who feared the Lord.
A woman of faith isn’t a woman trying to aspire to tick all the boxes of Proverbs 31 or how we have defined Christian women or femininity. but a woman of faith is someone who recognises themselves as a daughter of the King and chooses to have faith and grow in their faith every single day with God, who is obedient to God, who fears Him, and with that they understand that God created them uniquely as a woman but they have this incredible faith in God as well. And that confidence, that assurance as well is in who God created you to be and it’s not like what other women look like. I think there is a whole sense of uniqueness about it.
Cindy: I think being a woman of faith is about being a woman who is just willing to step out into their calling no matter what it looks like, no matter what odds come against them. They’re willing to just pursue God and focus on God and keep the main thing, the main thing. I think they’re also willing to grow and willing to push themselves and not willing to suppress themselves because of others. I think a lot of Christian women or women of faith they tend to suppress their calling or their purpose at the expense of someone else. They tend to think it’s too big, and ‘I’m meant to be fragile’, ‘I’m meant to be this Proverbs 31 woman’. It’s you being strong, you being authentic.
It’s you being ‘ok I’m going to proactively go out and grow everyday for the sake of me and for the sake of God so that God can bring out the best in me.’
It’s about going out being dangerous, being on mission. Be on it for Jesus, not because people are watching, but because He has been so good cos you understand what He’s done and you want to help broken women and men out in the world be the best that they can be.
Question: How do we live empowered as women of faith in this generation? Or in this society? Because there are a lot of things that are going against our Christianity and against how God originally created women. So how do we live empowered? How do we just stand firm to make sure we’re living out the calling God has given us?
Salem: Know the word! It’s literally as simple as that! I think when you abide in the word, remain in the word, you know the word. When you know the word that’s where the freedom comes from. I think it says in John 8:31-32 ‘as you abide, so you will know and then so you will have that freedom’ and I think a lot of people don’t live a free life because of a lack of knowledge and the lack of knowledge comes because they are unwilling to step into a place of truth. So, when you are in a place of truth then you actually become unshakeable because God’s word is unshakeable.
When we are actually in the word and we know who we are, we know our identity as a woman of faith, as a woman of God then nothing can shake you because your foundation is unshakeable. Then you can actually live a life empowered.
Obviously, the power is not from you but by dwelling and living in the Holy Spirit and letting him to full control over your life that’s really where the power comes from. God said aspire for greatness, not for the sake of pride but because ‘I AM great’ so aspire for greatness. It’s not entertaining the things that are trying to oppose you. The plane always goes against the wind. You will always take off against resistance. There will be resistance regardless. You learn to actually use that to propel you into your calling. That’s when you’re fully empowered.
Tish: I think living empowered as women collectively as well. It requires unity and actually just be nice on the fact that we’re believers and the fact that you love Jesus. Then I think as a movement of women, we can do a lot. We can do a lot together but people are divided because of the Christian ideals that we placed.
Once we unite on the word of God and the fact that God is our saviour and Jesus saved us, I think just as women collectively, we can do a lot.
Being empowered requires being united, we need to empower each other. I know it sounds cliche to say that, cos men need to empower each other too. But there’s so much emphasis on women’s ministry because we’re just not united. But I think to be able to empower one another, is taking what Salem said about getting into the word of God, taking that and using that as a foundation, our basis.
Question: Is there any expectations you feel women of faith have to live up to? Where do they come from? Do we have to live up to those expectations?
Tish: There is definitely a Christian woman ideal that is out there. It’s like if you don’t look a certain way or if you don’t do certain things or have certain rituals or routines that Christian women do. Or if you don’t have a husband, or you’re not married young, it’s like what are you doing? Obviously, there is a pressure on lots of Christian women, especially when it comes to being single. You don’t have to live up to those because at the end of the day, you won’t care about those ideals if you are on it for Jesus. A relationship with God is very personal, people may want to stereotype or say this is what a Christian woman should look like.
If you fear the Lord then you are a woman that’s of faith. You need to fear the Lord. It’s as simple as that. I think fearing God, having faith, trusting God and having hope. Those are the universal Christian ideals. These are things we should be doing as Christians.
You shouldn’t have to have your hair in a certain way or shouldn’t have to be married by the age of 22 in order to be a Christian woman. If you are chasing Jesus, if you are running after him, if you are developing your relationship with him, you are just all for Jesus then however your life is going to be shaped is however Jesus intends to shape your life. If we all were the same, how boring would Christianity be? I think Jesus values diversity. Look at his disciples, they were all diverse. If you are aware of these Christian stereotypes, don’t play into them. Chase Jesus! That’s it.
Cindy: Why should it be that you have to look a certain way? Christianity is not a trend. It’s not something that you just do because it looks attractive. Chasing God should be attractive, period. Whether you’re a man or a woman. It shouldn’t be attractive because other people think that its attractive. That a certain attribute of being a Christian woman is hot, therefore I am now going to project that. That’s where you get these Christian ideals from specifically what women should look like or should do.
It’s not about what you should look like, it’s about what are you doing. How are you contributing to the Kingdom of God? How are you benefiting others who are actually suffering? Because you can look good but at the end of the day, the places that God wants us to go requires you to be psychologically messy sometimes.
We have to just pursue and go out and just focus on God and I think too many girls they look like ‘omg I want to look like so and so on the platform, I want to look like this, I want to be like that.’ The reality of it is God has designed you to look the way that you are because He knows the world needs diversity and you should be treasuring that, not suppressing that. I feel like when Christian women get certain callings that can even look like it’s not feminine, they try and suppress that, and say ‘no that’s not for me, God has definitely not called me to do that thing’ rather than actually embracing that and being like ‘God has actually given me this calling that I should now go out and focus on’. Even if it’s at the expense of you looking messy God turns amazing things out from mess. I think no matter what it looks like God has put that thing on your heart for you to pursue. It’s for you only. I don’t feel like you need to be focused on other people when you’re just getting distracted by what they think is appropriate or what they feel is a Christian woman. It already says in the Bible what it already is.
Tish: When I say diverse, I’m not just talking about race. I am also talking about personality and character. Whether you want to be a fashion blogger or footballer or do wrestling or boxing. I’m talking about in terms of career, personality, character. We shouldn’t have to try so hard to be feminine. Just be yourself.
Cindy: And to subscribe to one ideal of what somebody thinks feminism is or what it looks like to them. Because it says what it is in the Bible.
Question: So, coming of that, do you think the healthy role models that we have like Lisa Bevere, Christine Caine, Heather Lindsey, do you feel they’ve become expectations for women of faith to become? Or are they just people that we can look up to?
Salem: I think it depends on perspective. For some people, it genuinely can be healthy. But I think for other people it genuinely can be toxic. But I think it’s because of their perspective on how they view people on the platform. I think it comes down to understanding what character is. A lot of people will talk about ‘not looking at the external and focus on the internal’ but sometimes some characteristics are idolised as opposed to others. Especially when it comes to women of God. They should be more ‘graceful’ like Bobbie [Houston], she’s so graceful and soft-spoken. She is amazing. But you can’t say that every woman should aspire to have that quality otherwise ‘oh you’re not a woman now because you are not graceful like that.’
But then you see other people like Christine Caine, very bold, very brave. So, you’re like ‘maybe I should aspire for boldness and bravery’. But what about things like integrity? Which is not really talked about. What about vulnerability? Transparency? Authenticity?
There are so many qualities that are overlooked because they are overshadowed by these bold, in-your-face qualities so it’s not just about the external and looking a certain way. I think it’s even in terms of character and being a certain way. It really depends on perspective. I think it depends on your maturity as well. The immature will use them as the marker to say ‘this is how I should be like to be a woman of God’ whereas for the mature who truly understand God, they can see these women and aspire to be better than them. Why can’t we be better than them? Why can’t we be better than the ones on the platform? Why can’t we be the ones actually changing the world not just of one platform?
Satta: Like you said, with certain characteristics you can’t see it on the platform, you can’t see it on social media, literally only the people around them will see that.
Salem: The characteristics that are shown on the platform are the ones people perceive.
Tish: If people are struggling with their character, unless the holy spirit has convicted you about the way you were acting, then change. If not, you don’t need to change for no one.
Salem: When it comes to being a woman of God, people need to stop focussing on trying to be a woman of God but focus on being a human. Focus on being a child of God, actually having a relationship with God. Whatever the product of your relationship with God is, will just naturally overflow into your life. If you are naturally overflowing in that communion then people will see those natural characteristics in you and then they’ll be like ‘wow, that’s a woman of God.’ Loads of women put pressure on being a woman of God but then they lose sight of actually where is the relationship with God I had in the first place.
Cindy: Being a woman of God, there’s just so many different types and you just have to embrace who you are authentically and any man who makes you feel like you have to suppress that are just no for you. Because how can you suppress who God has made you innately to be?
Question: Who is your shero from the Bible and why?
Tish: Deborah! *Aussie accent* Found in Judges 5. Because when I was a youth at another church. My pastor was like, during a Holy Spirit night, was just like ‘do you know Deborah in the Bible?’ I was like ‘no.’ He was like ‘you should read her, you’re a Deborah’. I read it and I was like Jheeeezee she’s lit.
Salem: I think mine would probably be Esther. I love the fact that she was an intercessor for the nations. Just the fact that she is a woman of God, but then she had one foot in the house of God and then one foot in the world and she was the bridge between the two worlds to bring them to one. She brought a whole nation into peace. She was able to make such a huge impact in that time. She used her mantle and she was so fearless in what she did. Yeah, there were times where she doubted and stuff but ultimately she knew she would never run away from her calling. She knew there was no life other than where she had been placed. So I just love the fact she just took that and the whole nation backed her in what she was doing.
Cindy: One of my sheros would be Abigail (1 Samuel 25) from the Bible, because she was so wise. I am so inspired by her because she was so determined, she was so focused, she was so passionate. She did something that could have been perceived as being dangerous, but she did it anyway because she knew that God was with her. It was something that was in her heart to do, she didn’t have to do it but she still did it. As a result, everybody just benefited from that.
Featured image taken by Satta