Ula Cyganik

Born in 1990 in Opole (Poland) and raised with two older siblings. She works for a large German supermarket chain in the area of sustainability and recycling management. She joined the Schönstatt Youth at the age of about seven and later joined the Professional Women in Germany.

What experiences have formed you as a woman?

When I look back on my life as a woman, I see many experiences that most women have had in their lives. As a child and teenager, I was not very popular, I had few friends, I was bullied by my schoolmates and verbally mistreated.

I dreamed of becoming someone famous, a model, an actress – someone beautiful, I wanted to be “seen” by others, to be appreciated, to be called “beautiful”. My family, however, repeatedly made it clear to me that make-up and beautiful clothes are used to attract men. This was the insincere way to achieve my happiness. Therefore, a woman who wants to live a life pleasing to God should not do so…

This dissonance affected my life for many years. My womanhood was hidden in dark, shapeless clothes and my fears and insecurities were covered with make-up.

Only when I accepted myself as I am, did things change. I began to understand: My value is not defined by others, but I have the value that God gives me, and he made me in his image. I am “perfect” in a certain sense – because He created me and said: “It is very good!” (cf. Gen…).

This change of thinking began in me when I was 24 years old. At that time I was reading the Bible and listening to some sermons that spoke to me: Through them, God reminded me that I am his daughter – a princess – and nothing less than beautiful.

I realized: make-up and beautiful clothes should serve you, to emphasize your advantages, special features, your beauty. These things can be used in a modest and simple way. That is what I have learned. I have learned to use all this in a way that makes me feel good in being who I am.

Where have you experienced God in your life?

Ever since I can remember, I have had a close relationship with God. I know that He watches over my life and will never leave me. I meet him every day, and each day, in a different way.

I see him in the little gifts he sends me every day – when I make it to the bus, when I’m in a hurry; when a person holds the doors for me; a break in the rain to make sure I come home dry when I forget my umbrella. I also see him in the fact that four years ago he gave me the job in the area where my sister lives so that I can now help her with childcare. So there are many little things that I see as his gift.

But I remember that there was a special moment when I received a certainty of His love. One evening I shed tears after a separation, I felt like my heart was broken into a million pieces and could not be healed.

And suddenly I felt this incredible peace in my heart and I had the certainty that everything would be okay because He put the pieces of my heart back together and because He holds my heart in His hands and He will never let go. In that moment I trusted Him completely.

What do you see as the challenge for women today?

In my opinion, it is feminism – the word/ideology that each of us knows and which, I think, is increasingly going in the wrong direction.

Women are still underrated, being a woman is not enough. I need to be a woman who does the same things as men, only better. I have to prove that I am independent, strong and worthy of recognition!

The tendency today is often to turn women into men. This should not be done. We are women and we must remain women, we have qualities that men don’t have and that can be lost to women due to the demands of society. We have to stand up and fight for the womanhood defined by God, for values like modesty, inner beauty and self-confidence. If we don’t do it, these values will be missing in the next generations of women.

What do you want to change in this world through your life?

I want to be able to reach women, especially those my age, and show them that we can help each other without having to compete against each other. Life is not a beauty contest. The woman next to us is not our opponent but can be our friend. I would like to participate in a young community where women make each other great, complement each other instead of criticizing, support each other in bad times and celebrate together in good times. The community of women in the transition from teenager to family, that is what I want to contribute to.