Women have much to offer as spiritual teachers: to their children, their families, their communities. But many of us have not quite developed the confidence to know that this is an innate ability and even responsibility of ours, which must be nurtured and passed on.
Many women are trapped in the belief that their voices don’t matter. That their intuition is not valid, or maybe even that it’s not safe to speak up. But we need women’s voices to get through the transition we are currently in on a global scale - in politics, society and redefining what gender identify means today.
To develop spiritually we first must wake up. We must wake up to all the ways we can make a difference. So many of us have learned to hide their true selves - behind roles as mothers and wives or caretakers. Sometimes that means we have to grow up. To leave behind a sense of dependency on a relationship or a job we may not be fulfilled by.
Signs of Awakening, writes Maria Harris in her book “Dance of the Spirit - The Seven Steps of Women’s Spirituality”, are when we stop telling ourselves “Someone will always take care of me”, or “If I please them, they’ll be nice to me”. Waking up and growing up are closely related.
When we awaken we learn to speak our truth. We realize that some relationships will change or fall away because of that. We won’t be able to please everyone any longer, live up to others’ expectations. We learn to trust our own intuition, and our own sense of what’s right and wrong. And that may no longer work with what your husband says, or your pastor, or your own mother. People who take care of us have a certain power over us, and it is up to us to take that power back by taking care of ourselves.
Growing up also means that we have to acknowledge our own imperfections. That each of us has a “shadow” side that we must own and work with. It’s no longer “them” who are to blame for the mistakes and the suffering out there. We have to fess up to how we contribute to the imbalances in the world, and roll up our sleeves to try and rectify them. Only when we are in touch with our own suffering and imperfections can we have true compassion and a sense of agency.
Harris quotes from a novel of Margaret Atwood who wrote: “Above all refuse to be a victim. Unless I can do that, I can do nothing. I have to give up my old belief that I am powerless and because of it nothing I do will ever hurt anyone. A lie which was always more disastrous than the truth would have been. Withdrawing is no longer possible, and the alternative is death.” That sounds dramatic, but there are many small deaths to be died by continuing to give up our own power.
All of this is, of course, incredibly hard to do. We need the support of other women to keep us going. Much of how we think as a society is based on victimization. It’s always someone else who does wrong and is to blame. But Awakening is the most important step on the spiritual path. No one has ever said that Awakening is easy.