Holly Bell: Sophomore Liberal Studies Major at the University of Notre Dame
Fun fact about Holly Bell and I… we have never met. Born and raised on opposite sides of the country the only thing that connects us is her and my shared best friend and our faith, and that is more than enough. What I know about her from others is that she will do anything for the people around her and never complains about any of it. She is a martyr in every part of her life and she lives to glorify God. She seems pretty amazing.
It was an honor to speak with her for even a short period of time and get to know a little bit about her life. “This past year has really been one of acceptance of who God made me as a person. This includes accepting my weaknesses, limitations, and struggles. And it is a yes of trusting that these difficulties are a part of God’s plan for me.” Holly, like a lot of us women, struggles with this desire to achieve perfection even when we know it’s impossible. “I think we define this perfect version of ourselves that we think God wants a us to achieve. I’m finding that instead of focusing so much on striving to reach my own perfect image of myself, I instead need to daily say yes to who God created me to be.”
“I’m at peace knowing he doesn’t expect me always to be joyful or pretend that things aren’t hard.”
This new form of personal acceptance has changed her perspective and helps her on days when self-love doesn’t come easy. “Naturally I’m a super happy person but I definitely experience times where my outer appearance of joy is not necessarily a reflection of what’s going on inside. And while I don’t like this truth, by accepting that this struggle is very much a part of who God made me to be, I’m at peace. I’m at peace knowing he doesn’t expect me always to be joyful or pretend that things aren’t hard.” Our faith isn’t an emotion… it’s a reality. Even when we don’t feel God’s love and nothing feels like it is going right we have to remember, just as Holly is trying to do, that the reality is that God is real, He loves us, and we are created in His image to do good.
What excited me most when talking to Holly was how similar our view of the connection between embracing our femininity and understanding our dignity truly is. “I think that a huge part of women finding their dignity is through embracing their femininity. For me a big part of my faith journey this year has been accepting how God made me as an individual. And a part of this yes is accepting myself as a woman.”
I love this innate connection that Holly sees between fully knowing herself and accepting her feminine genius. “I think the way to discover my own femininity is by listening to the innate desires of my heart. Because I am created by God as a woman, my femininity shows forth when I listen to those desires God gave me. I can’t think of a better way to live out my feminine calling than to listen to Gods will for my life because my womanhood cannot be separated from my being.” Like I said earlier Holly has lived her life in service of others and it perfectly goes with John Paull II’s theory that women were made as a ‘help’ for this world. “Our femininity calls us to delve deeper into ourselves and honestly seek that which God intended for us. I know for myself that as a woman and as an individual I have this strong desire to bring joy to others. And often I do this through my attentiveness to others needs and my desire to care for all those around me. In reflecting upon myself as God created me, I see where God has placed these desires in my heart.”
“I want my actions and clothes to reflect who I am- to reflect my God given dignity. Our femininity isn’t only reflected in our hearts but also our bodies.”
When it comes to deciding what to wear, Holly has realized it’s all about how she is presenting herself to the world, “I want my actions and clothes to reflect who I am- to reflect my God given dignity. Our femininity isn’t only reflected in our hearts but also our bodies. And our bodies are how we are presented to the world. I always strive to wear clothes that are flattering to my body without deemphasizing who I am as a person. In this way, I want to embrace my femininity as reflected in both my body and self while calling attention to my dignity. I desire my clothing to be complementary with who I am as a woman created and loved by God”
“God’s love for us is not dependent on how we view ourselves and we should never be afraid to listen to the desires God gives us.”
I may not know the little details of Holly’s life but even just knowing these few details about her heart help me know that we would get along very well. She is a girl who stays true to herself even if no one is there to support her and stays true to her faith and love of God even when she feels far from Him. She is a beautiful example for all of us women who struggle with the cross of never feeling like enough because, instead of trying to carry it herself, she lays it at the feet of Jesus and asks Him to transform her life. As she told me, “God’s love for us is not dependent on how we view ourselves and we should never be afraid to listen to the desires God gives us.”