I’m stepping into a different season. Gray hairs are starting to glisten among my darker roots. I’m looking back and instead of tripping over my old mistakes, I recognize them as learning experiences.

I’m also finding myself protective of other women. . . because I feel that somewhere along the way we have lost something really important and I want it back for all of us.

I want us to be okay with being vulnerable.

We’ve been told that if we are vulnerable, then we must be weak.

So we put up defense mechanisms that kept us “safe” but keep us isolated. We wrestle with being tender because it might be taken advantage of.

I want to pull women close and let them know that it’s okay to live life fully. We can tear down those walls. Sure, life can be messy because people are messy, but we become vulnerably strong as we open our hearts to experience God, to embrace joy, to laugh, to weep, to work through the hard places with people we love, and not to shut our hearts down when people let us down.

I want us to push back against overt sexuality

I want you to know that I think sex is a gift. I do. But I watch as beautiful women, from way too young of an age, draw the attention of men with pictures or words that say, “Take a look, because this is who I am,” it just makes me angry for all of us.

That guy who is drawn to that and leaves his praise on social media might make you feel good for a moment, but he’s not a good man. He’s shallow as the driest of creeks on a hot summer day and you’ll find yourself empty too if that’s the only way you feel good about you.

I want to push back against these images that sex sells. I want the industry to know that it shouldn’t take a half-clad woman’s body to sell a cheeseburger or that twerking on national TV is the only way to be noticed.

We are more than our body.

We are beautiful because of our mind, our heart, our courage, our laugh, our smile, our tender words to others, and because of our deep faith in the hard places.

And yes, we are sexual beings, but that is a deeply private dance that you are not allowed to join if you don’t want to love us for a lifetime.

I want to shout out to men around the world, like my friend Ann Rhana did this weekend in her message that stirred me deeply, to, “Be our fathers, be our brothers.”

Protect and nurture and cheer on women, rather than sell us into bondage, watch us on your computers when the lights are dim, or see us as less than companions, friends, sisters, mothers, the medicine God created to walk alongside you in life.

And I want us to say that this unacceptable. Not because we are against intimacy or sex, but because we understand the value of it in God’s divine plan, and you don’t get to demean it or us in the process.

I want us to embrace aging

Beauty is fleeting; it really is.

We give birth and our stomachs are lined with angry red marks that fade to white, evidence that a miracle once existed inside us. Brown spots show up on our hands and we look at them in surprise, wondering if they somehow appeared while we slept. Wrinkles begin to appear around your eyes and pounds try to creep around our waist. We fight them because we want to live healthy, but the reality is that the more we experience life the more that life marks us.

I remember standing in a hotel room once with a friend. As I got ready for bed, she pointed to a scar on my arm.

“What’s that?” she asked.

“Skin cancer,” I said, and pointed to two more places.

She turned and showed me her shoulder where a deep scar marred her fair skin.

“Me, too,” she said.

You and I have earned those scars. There are stories in each of the marks, stretch marks, wrinkles and scars on our flesh. I want us to treasure them and see them of value rather than try to erase them as if they never existed.

I’m not going to lie and pretend that I don’t have anti-wrinkle cream in my makeup drawer, because I do, but we are not diminished by aging.

I want us to embrace the truth that our beauty is found in wisdom. It’s found in family. It’s found in a legacy that we are leaving to those behind us. It’s found in kind words. It’s found in knees that creak as they kneel to pray as warriors.

If you are young, you will get older and it’s okay. In fact, it’s more then okay. There’s good things that come with maturity. I look back and see the girl I once was and I wish I could scoop her up and tell her that there’s SO much to learn, so much to experience, so much to gain as the years go by.

If you are like me and the years are starting to add up, the younger women need us not to fade away. Too many don’t have mamas that speak good into their hearts, and we can do that. Too many are looking for someone to remind them that God is real. We can do that, too.

This has become my prayer: God, make us strong again.

Let’s take back what we have given up.

Let’s come round and encourage “us.”

Let’s not be afraid to speak out on issues that rob women of our true voice.

Let’s pray for each other and get rid of any walls that keep us isolated from each other.

Let’s pray that we step into the strength God has already placed inside of us.

Let’s be strong again, together.