An open letter to my amazing niece about becoming a woman:
Even though she was my sister, when I was really little, your mom was like a mother to me. I have vivid memories of crying myself to sleep on the couch many nights after she left for college because she left such a void. When I was a little older and she was married and had children, I would come and stay with her for a while sometimes. During those long visits she became more than my sister, she became my friend. I enjoyed each visit more than the last and never wanted to leave. When I became an adult, she became my best friend and mentor.
When I was little, I loved her because she was my sister. But as I grew older, I began to respect and admire her as a woman as well. She was everything I thought a woman should be and I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. For me, she was the standard, and I gauged everything I did by her example. As a new wife, and then later as a new mother, I often felt like I didn’t measure up. I struggled with feelings of being overwhelmed and under qualified. I would think to myself, ‘If I could only be more like her, I would know what to do and everything would be better.’
Now after almost 20 years of marriage and over 10 years of parenthood, I have realized a few things. First of which, is that I can never be just like her, because God made me differently. I'm louder, crazier, more opinionated than she is. My perspectives, experiences and capabilities are different too. I still think of her as the embodiment of the Proverbs 31 woman, and the fulfillment of the fruits of the Spirit. For sure, she is an example to learn from. But I have realized that I don’t have to be just like her to be those things as well.
Often, we struggle as women because we think we don’t measure up to someone else’s standard. We think there is something wrong with us because we are different. But God made each of us differently. And He did it on purpose. All of us are all different parts, and we need each of those different parts to function as a whole. There are things we have to learn from each of these differences, and the differences in each of us are what make life interesting. And while there are some amazing women that we have to look up to and learn from, (your mom is one of those for sure) we don’t need to feel like we don’t measure up because we are not just like them.
As you are on your way to becoming an adult, you are discovering who you are; who you want to be. While you are on that path to self-discovery, I want you to keep in mind that God didn’t create you to be like someone else. He created you to be different. So find those women you look up to, women who embody the traits that you desire, and learn from them. But don’t try to be like anyone else; because God created you to be you.