When I came home from work today, I got down on my knees and prayed. My heart was feeling heavy for others whose trials I know are great. Then I curled up in bed and finished reading the last chapter of “The Magnolia Story.” It’s a book by Chip and Joanna Gaines, the husband and wife duo of the show Fixer Upper. I want to share with you the final paragraph from this book.
“Don’t quit, and don’t give up. The reward is just around the corner. And in times of doubt and in times of joy, listen for that still, small voice. Know that God has been there from the beginning – and He will be there until the end,” (page 182).
Wow. Just moments after offering a prayer expressing to God the heaviness of my heart, I stumbled across this gem. I am grateful for men and women of faith, like Chip and Joanna Gaines, who express their belief that God is always in the journey with us and will be with us until the end.
I too believe that God is always there. Even (and maybe especially) in those times when things feel dark and hearts feel heavy. We must keep believing, keep dreaming, and keep waiting for His hand to be revealed.
I remember attending a general meeting for all the women in my church. During the meeting, a video was shown of the progression of a woman's life. Problem was, after getting baptized at age 8, my life looked absolutely NOTHING like what was being portrayed to me. I didn't see myself in anything I was viewing. I was in my mid-20's, a working professional, and nowhere close to being married. Speaking with friends in similar situations afterward, we all had a problem identifying with the short film and the prescriptive life path of marriage and children. One friend even stated how her own mother had started crying while watching the film because she wanted her daughters, both not married, to know that they were appreciated and valued and loved.
I was asked by a faith-based Instagram account to write about being a woman. Over the years, I've been asked to speak or respond to this question a few times. Sometimes I feel a little "token-ized" as the single person talking about how I still am okay with the church and religion even though I'm not married. And how I am still enjoying life in my misery :)
One of my friends said it best when she stated, "How do they expect us to be happy in a place in life where everyone says you're not supposed to be happy?" And I would add - how to be happy when you are constantly looking beyond the mark to the next thing or anxiously awaiting a change in your current state?
I would like to begin by addressing the thought that "womanhood" means being a mother. If that were the case, there are thousands of us not experiencing the full spectrum of womanhood.
When I look to the scriptures, I don't find examples of women solely being cast as mothers. Most scripture stories about women exemplify a characteristic or trait that I am actively working on developing in my life.
Esther was courageous.
Ruth was loyal.
Hannah was prayerful.
All these characteristics and many others were chosen to be represented in the scriptures by WOMEN.
I think one of the worst things that happens is the false contention created by the comparison of women. Working full-time is hard. I'm lonely. I hate feeling the full responsibility of adult life set squarely on my shoulders. However! From what I hear, it's also difficult waking up in the middle of the night to feed babies or take care of sick kids. Or feeling like no one appreciates what you do. Or putting your body through the ringer to bring life into the world.
Why do we compare? One isn't better than the other. Any and all feelings of contention are not coming from God. I believe there are many women's issues that are worth fighting for (wage gap, anyone?) - and I also love my Savior and hope to be a mother someday. Notice there was no, "but" in that sentence. I have never felt a need to fall into one camp or the other. When the Savior is at the center of our lives, and we live according to our faith, we are all on the same team.
Our goal is to become like Christ. The women that I have read about in scripture and associated with in my life are some of the most Christlike people I have ever met.
What I think is uniquely characteristic of all these women is their faith. Faith being evidenced by things hoped for and not seen. Faith that through Christ, things can and will be made right.
The faith exemplified by women inspired me to go to college, to go on a mission, to pursue my career, and has informed all of my major life decisions. I have found exemplars ranging in age from eight to 80. My goal is to not silo these people into groups and instead more fully take advantage of and draw on the faith of all the women around me.
The faith that I am divinely created allows me to understand that I can receive all the blessings God has for His children. I love being a woman and hope that all women can feel empowered through their faith in Christ.
Love you too much - thanks for reading. Whether you are a woman or a man :) I think these are good things for us all to think about!
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