They say that change and evolution happens in stages. Stages that take you from one season and place to the next, step by step, little by little.
I am certain that each one of us, at various times in our lives, can see where these changes and evolutions occurred. When we transitioned from one level of understanding and enlightenment, and graduated to the next phase of depth and maturity.
Over the past three years, there has been a stirring; a movement and shift that has been taking place within my mind and heart. Never all at once, but in slow, yet steady phases, images of the woman I've always destined to become have begun to appear.
From birth, I've been a passionate animal lover. Where most people talk about their spirit animals in joking manner, I've always taken mine quite seriously. Over the years, I would identify with a particular animal that I felt truly embodied the essence of my aura and being. For many years I felt that animal was a horse. I strongly identified with the wild spirit of the majestic and unbridled beasts with pounding hooves and flowing manes galloping into the sunset. And I suppose, as a younger girl, this creature probably did fit me best seeing as I was slightly rebellious and untamed, determined to live a life as far away from the status quo and the mundane as possible.
Yet, over the past three revolutions around the sun, I've begun to identify with a different animal. A species whose power and strength have spoken to the very core and depths of my soul.
The pages of this book only further brought to life the strong revelations and self-awakening that were happening within me. The words on the pages leapt out at me, and began to bring clarity and direction to the guidance that the lioness within was providing.
So what exactly is the significance of the lioness anyway?
A lioness is the most powerful member of the pride. Within her she holds abundance, courage, strength, agility, power, wisdom, and community. A lioness has full confidence in her role, and proudly takes up her position to hunt for and protect her family. She is a great provider who successfully goes out and faces the challenges that life brings. The lioness knows when to be patient, to law low and blend in with her surroundings, and when to leap and pounce on what she wants. The lioness brings the message of self-control, and that true strength comes from the ability to master your emotions and reactions.
Above all, a lioness knows her nobility. She takes pride in loving her own, and providing them a sense of security and comfort. Her art is patience and timing, and she is regal mother and the embodiment of self-knowing, self-acceptance, and self-love.
How many of us, as women, struggle with knowing ourselves, accepting ourselves and loving ourselves?
It's a daily battle that this world only makes more difficult, yet, in studying lionesses a renewed sense of empowerment and awareness began to be awakened within me.
In her book, Lisa Bevere talks about these very concepts.
These words began to jump off the page. She was speaking directly into my soul.
For much of my life, people have tried slap labels on me, and fit me into boxes that help them simplify and better understand the unique, and complex infrastructure known as my female mind.
I've been called everything from loud, bossy, and choleric, to easy-going, hippie, flower-child, and even liberal, progressive feminist. In some ways, each of these labels have maybe come out in various moments and settings, but all of which hardly began to scratch the surface of the essence of my being.
At various times I've found myself trying to conform and fit in, and become less different and more of what everyone else wanted me to be. Unsurprisingly, it was in these times when my biggest mistakes were made, and my most intense bouts of depression were found.
As my understanding of what the lioness represented, and what it meant to become her became more clear, a great healing slowly started to take place.
Being a woman in modern society means you've probably spent a lot of time apologizing for being who you are. You've spent countless hours critiquing your appearance, and figuring out how to be more this or less of that, and so on and so forth.
The constant battle of womanhood is fighting being "too much," while simultaneously being, "not enough."
Recognizing the qualities of lioness within one self violently rejects these heinous claims that there is one way to be a woman. It strips off delusions that bind femininity in archaic ideals of demure, tamed, opinion-less, helpless waifs who are enslaved to the patriarchy.
On the contrary, what is a lion without his lioness?
For me, being a lioness is far more than having a "cool" spirit animal. Being a lioness is the awakening of self-love, acceptance and knowing. It's the understanding of the strength that lies within womanhood, and embracing the calling to be a leader, a catalyst, a protector, a provider - yet a gentle lover and mother.
Being a lioness brings profound clarity, and allows you to find your authentic voice. And that authentic voice tears down any obstacles that keep you from attaining your goals.
These realizations have all come in stages, but the greatest beauty I've found amongst it all is the joy and freedom to confidently be yourself. To walk with a sense of dignity and pride with full knowledge of who you were created to be.
To be yourself - unapologetically.
That all parts of you - the loud, the passionate, the tame, the quiet, the cautious, and the warrior all create the beautiful, powerful and svelte prowess that makes you woman.
I've found an incredible amount of courage, strength, encouragement, freedom and confidence in allowing myself to recognize the qualities of a lioness that I carry within myself. I've determined to learn from her and become more and more like the radiant queen of abundant life and energy.
To allow myself to be further shaped by God into His image, into who He says I am and find that my identity lies in Him and Him alone.
So, to all my fellow lionesses....
...and never apologize for it.