Men and women have long struggled to find value through social roles, through relationships, and through tearing the other gender down. Individually, both genders are hurting to find their identity and feel truly valued. On February 13th at Vespers, Sophie Collings and Taylor Harpster addressed these issues by looking to God’s Word. Harpster shared in an interview, “Our primary hope was to convey the idea of recognizing our equality with others as full image bearers of God by first recognizing our own worth, because often it’s hard to see the full humanity of others without first seeing our own.”
Through scripture and personal testimony, Harpster and Collings shared the necessity of depending solely on God for personal value and worth. Relationships, popularity, grades, fame – none of it compares to the value found Christ. They stressed the fact that we, men and women, are all created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). “This also includes the women that are quiet, talked over, or the ones called sluts, and the men that aren’t ‘manly’ enough. It also includes the women that just want to be stay-at-home moms and the men that seem too full of themselves but actually have low self-esteem,” Collings elaborated during Vespers. Because we all are made in the image of God, this also means we are all equal human beings as is found in Galatians 3:26-29. We all have equal opportunities to accept the grace of God in our lives and start our lives over everyday in fresh redemption.
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” – Galatians 3:26-29
Yet it is a struggle to hold on to these affirmations of identity and value when the world continues to present a different idea of what men and women should stock their value in. How can young Christians stay afloat above the noise of this world and grasp on to the truth of our worth? Collings explained that for her, “I surround myself with people that affirm my femininity. These are people that won’t degrade me because I am a woman, as well as people who empower me to do the things society tells me I can’t or shouldn’t do.” She further describes these people as her family, her boyfriend, good friends, and wise mentors. She goes on, “On the other hand, I do my best to be in prayer about these issues. God transcends so much of what we could possibly know and understand and He is what gives us the ability to work through these issues and love the people that we don’t understand. That’s why I also make sure I talk with people who disagree with me, so I can be sure not to dehumanize them just because they don’t think the same way that I do.”
This is exactly the attitude necessary to also begin healing from past traumatic experiences with the opposite gender that have perhaps marred the overall perception of those people. Harpster and Collings both agree that having a strong support system to walk with through the healing process can make all the difference when it comes to consistent progress. Collings explains another strategy, “I think conversation and communication is essential to mending. That can be a really difficult step; however, conversation does not have to mean talking with the source of your hurt. Many times it looks like simply conversing with members of the gender that caused you pain to remember that an entire gender is not evil, and to remember that even those who hurt you are human too.” “In general, we tend to better see the humanity in different groups of people when we are in community with them and when we are able to have a conversation with them,” Harpster agreed. Healing is a process and some healing may take longer than others, but striving to discover our own value and find grace through Christ can then lead us to a place of self-respect and respect for others.