Monday, October 26, 2009

To Be a Woman Is a Glorious Thing

Recently, I came across this photo capturing four generations of women from the same family, and I can't stop looking at their faces. How I would love to have one just like it, picturing my own grandmother, mother, self, and daughter. Of course, this is impossible because my maternal grandmother passed away in 1965, but I do intend to have a three-generation picture taken when the opportunity arises.

Look at the body language of these delightful ladies, made even more noteworthy by the strict picture-taking customs of their time. The two youngest are allowing themselves a small smile, and even the older two look ike they're having to hold back a little to keep a proper level of decorum. I also love the way they are leaning inward, heads tilted toward one another in varying degrees depending (no doubt) upon the extent of each individual's determination to maintain the expected level of sobriety. I would venture to say that the hearts of these four were "knit together in love" (Col. 2:2).

Women inspire me. They always have, in fact. Where else can you find such a combination of strength and softness, humility and chutzpah, drive and devotion? As a poem I once wrote begins, "A woman is a perfect blend of truth and contradiction...". For this beautiful complexity and a host of other reasons, I think a woman is one pretty spectacular thing to be.

Unfortunately, I also think that society as it stands today is selling us short. We are far more than the self-proclaimed mavens of society and popular culture would have us be...and while equal pay for equal work and other such issues are reasonable conversations to have, our divinely-gifted power as women cannot be enhanced or diminished by any condition imposed upon us from without. Within us lie the seeds of eternity. We are builders of life, partnered with God in bringing His light, His love, and His children to the world. We, like Eve, are the "mothers of all living" (Genesis 3:20).

Don't misunderstand me. Our various earthly rights and worldly roles as women are well worth fighting for (I am, in my own way, a feminist), but we must always remember that our true power is not reliant upon winning (or losing) any temporal struggle, no matter how egregious, well-documented, or well-advertised the issue. We must not be distracted by the adversary, who holds up one shiny bead as a prize when we are already wearing the complete necklace, too often without realizing it. In other words, women cannot allow our knowledge of who we really are to be centered in the thick of thin things. No counterfeit image or narrowly-defined persona should be substituted for our true identity. No limited, earth-bound vision, created and maintained by man, should ever be allowed to make us lose sight of the magnificent daughters of God that we are.


Darlene said...

Sue, you really hit the mark on this one. First, I really enjoyed looking at the pictures of these women who were born long before our time. Even then, they had strength that they probably didn't even recognize in themselves. Women, for the most part, are truly powerful. I didn't come into my own power until sometime after my second marriage, but once I really recognized it, I learned to be grateful for it and I tried not to exercise it unrighteously.

It's not just power, it's all those things you mentioned and a few more.....softness(this one is high on the list) vulnerability (withought this, we would be cold and hard, without feeling. I have known a few women like this, but fortunately not many) understanding is also a big one. How many people, men, women and children included, go to their favorite woman with their problems that need to be solved, or at least listened to. I could go on and on, but I think it is great that you can bring to words so eloquently just where the place of women should be.

Unfortunately there are some women who take their images of being powerful women a little too far. There are quite a few of these women who have gone into politics and we all know who they are. But you are right in the long run, women have finally become what women were always meant to be. Strong in their own right.

Thanks for giving me some great things to think about today.

Sue said...

Thanks, Mom. Just to clarify, though, I have nothing whatsoever against women in politics. More power to them! (Except, of course, Nancy Pelosi.) Less power to her. heehee

karen said...

I love this post! I love big groups of women, and at the same time they sometimes scare me. We hold such power in our hands, and we need to be sure we use that power wisely. I am lucky enough to have a (actually several) 5 generation portraits. My grandmother is 98 and we make sure we take one every time we all get together. I think you've seen the one of all of our hands together too. Thank goodness for my daughter - she corrals us all and won't let us leave until she gets the shot!

Ryan said...

What about men?

KC Mom said...

So true and if I could just keep the perspective of being a daughter of God, all things differences and problems regarding women's roles, would seem insignificant.
Good words to think about today.
I love that picture too. I was struck the same way when I first saw it, how happy they all looked.

VK said...

Good, strong opinions.
I have wonderful strong women in my life too, and we all love to get good shots of the generations.

Amy said...

I love this! My brother and I were having a discussion a while back about this very topic. I think one of Satan's best tools is feminism as it stands today. Telling women that to be a SAHM is a thing to be ashamed of. Telling women to forget and ignore their inherent qualities and try to become more like men. We are supposed to be soft and loving, a counter to the rough and unrefined character of men. I am not saying that women should be satisfied to live their lives in a bubble using their femininity as an excuse to not grow or learn. On the contrary, because of our femininity we have so much more power than we realize. By not understand who we are and why we are here Satan is able to blindside us and make us forget. And then all the wonderful things we are called to do are left by the side of the road as we are chasing that "pearl" as you so aptly put it. We are chasing the pearl that doesn't even belong to us, and we miss out on the beauty and richness that could be ours if we just looked within ourselves.
Media tells women they are not good enough, the workplace tells women that they have to be just like men if they want to succeed, and worst of all, we tell ourselves we are not good enough despite all the wonderful things we do. Oh, he is a cunning one. But I think the first step is recognizing it, and thus being able to side step that trap.
Whew, that was a lot. But I love your thoughts on this and am glad you posted it.

Momza said...

Great post & great comments too! Definitely alot to think about...we do have so much power.

Snarky Belle said...

Wow, you just never disappoint do you? I can't come up with anything great to say when commenting on your posts. It's because I just sit in awe of your ability to create art with your words. Seriously, you leave me kind of speechless, which doesn't happen very often. You really are amazing to me.

Katie Blacker said...

I would not be who I am with out the women I've known through out my life. I am lucky I have such great examples to follow. I love that old picture too. All i could think about was how far we have come from the women in that good ways and bad.

Em said...

love seeing old pictures, especially generation to generation. amazing. there is one of my great grandma by herself. i was the spitting image of her as a child. so was my mom. there's a picture of my mom at about 8 or 9 in an alleyway somewhere. if you took the face and put it in modern clothes you would think it was me. and to think i didn't think i looked like anyone;-)

Heather Anderson said...

Great post, you could do a four generation photo with Carli, that would be cool. I liked the comments too, but I take issue with the one that talks about women being "soft and loving, a counter to the rough and unrefined character of men." I tend to think that men can be a little more complex than that.

Respectfully Submitted,

Matthew D. Anderson

Karen said...

Great Post! I treasure my 5 Generation picture including my Great Grandma and My Daughter partly because it reminds me of this exact point. I come from strong women, capable (sp) women, who delighted in their families and serving others.

Love this post!

Darlene said...

I never meant to imply that there aren't any wonderful women in politics, Sue. I just didn't get across my point too well that there are quite a few bad ones that seem to have a little too much power. More power to good women in politics, we need more of them!!

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