Today really is the greatest time to be a woman. We are able to go to school, hold pretty much any job, and look fabulous while doing it. We have female writers crushing it in book sales and female directors cleaning up at the box office. We have female legislators, judges, Fortune 500 business owners, health professionals, military officers, and Nobel prize winners. Women are able to stay home with their children, pursue their careers, or both if they wish. It truly is a great time to be a woman.
Juana Inés de la Cruz was a woman who was a feminist years before that term was coined. She believed deeply in a woman’s rights to education, something that was incredibly controversial in the 1600’s. There were no marches in regards to her rights, protests held to allow women into schools and business, and no mass concern about women’s rights.
This incredible activist was the illegitimate child of a Spanish captain and a Criollo woman, was considered a daughter of the church, and was raised by her grandparents until she was sent to live in Mexico City with her maternal aunt at the age of eight. There she continued to learn and grow in her knowledge of science, literature, and the Lord, much to the chagrin of the men around her.
Though she wasn’t supposed to be reading, writing, and learning, she persisted. She loved knowledge, a craving that she was going to satisfy no matter what others around her thought. She even asked permission to disguise herself as a male student so that she could attend university. Her family didn’t approve of this plan so instead, she continued to study on her own. In her late teens, she decided to become a nun, not wanting to have any profession that would distract her from her studies.
Her claim to fame is her response to the bishop of Puebla’s criticism of her opinion on a sermon preached by a Portuguese Jesuit preacher. He told her to focus on her study of religion instead of her other pursuits. She responded to him by defending a woman’s right to education. As you can imagine, her response led to more men speaking out against her, condemning her as a wayward woman.
In the end, Juana chose to lay down her pen instead of risking an official censure. She got rid of all her books and lived the last few years of her life ministering to others, fulfilling her role as a nun.
The persistence of this woman is inspiring to me. Honestly, if I hit enough roadblocks, I have a tendency to give up and move on to something else.
But that’s not what Juana did.
She didn’t allow her label of illegitimate stop her.
She didn’t believe that the role of women should be limited.
She passionately pursued God despite the voices of others telling her to cease and desist.
Are you allowing anything to hold you back?
Do doubt and insecurity whisper in your ears, telling you that you’re not enough?
Do you feel less than because of your upbringing, your background, or your status?
I encourage you to give those to God today. Don’t let the voices that tell you that you’re insignificant drown out the voice of the Lord who calls you worthy, chosen, and beloved.
You are a precious child of God. He made you strategically, he formed you together in your mother’s womb, and he’s calling you to incredible things. It might not always be popular and following God is rarely comfortable, but it’s always worth it.
What’s one practical way that you can follow God’s voice this week? Share it with someone today.
Is God calling you to step outside your comfort zone and share your story?
We would love to read it! This is a safe space for you to share your story, mess and all, with us.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah is part of We are Unveiled's teaching team. She loves sharing about life and faith and is thankful for the opportunity to do that through her writing. She is passionate about story and enjoys learning about people's journeys of hope and healing. She believes every number has a name, every name has a story, and every story is worthy of being shared.