By Rev. Brittany Graves
Advocating for others and advocating for oneself have a direct correlation. While we are taught to stand up for those on the margins within the Christian faith, we are taught a lot less to advocate for ourselves. This has proven to be my experience as a young black woman and I am sure we can all relate depending on the messages we have heard around “our place” in society, culture, religion, etc.
Personally, I have always had a heart for justice & others, so my advocacy started from this place. However, my advocacy has taken on new life in advocating for myself first and giving out of this abundance.
As we advocate for others, self-advocacy is just as important. It is the difference between serving from an overflowing cup or giving from the leftovers in how you have not filled yourself up or been filled up by others. I wonder how different the world may be if we are given the support and agency to be empowered, then subsequently go out and advocate for others.
Identifying our personal needs is a divine responsibility and becomes even more sacred when we are in community with people that honor those boundaries. Standing up for ourselves can feel like drinking from a living well that helps us step into our power. It gives us greater ability to be a positive example and advocate for others, so that they can one day pay it forward.
Questions to consider:
- When is self-advocacy easiest & what spaces make it more challenging?
- How do you facilitate advocacy for yourself & others?
- What are the internal messages you have around self-advocacy?
What you can do:
- Notice where you feel most supported & seen.
- Practice advocacy in small ways first, then increase your advocacy accordingly.
Quotes from Audre Lorde:
“I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.”
“I write for those women who do not speak, for those who do not have a voice because they were so terrified, because we are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t.”
Creator God, help us to embrace the ways we can step into advocacy for ourselves and others. May we recognize the necessity of using our voice and find the spaces where we feel supported in being heard and seen. May we facilitate a space of safety for those we come across on our journey. Let us be who we are created and meant to be by engaging our inner work to be the best advocate we can be.
Rev. Brittany Graves is national coordinator, Public Witness & Advocacy, American Baptist Home Mission Societies. She welcomes your input at [email protected] and engagement on Instagram @ambitiouslyBrittany.
Photo by Jacub Gomez from Pexels