"Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential." --Winston ChurchillWell, I've never been a fan of the feminists' "Girl Power" mentality. The idea that women can and should take over and rule the world to prove to men that we are not the weaker sex is a bunch of bunk, if you ask me. Right now I'm doing a study on the book of Esther-- a great example of a strong woman who was beautiful inside and out. What's interesting to me is that this is the one book of the Bible where God's name is not even mentioned. (Something to think about for those people who may believe God to be an egomaniac.) Esther's story is a story of courage, but what is striking me right now is a thought about timing. The evil Haman devised a plot to "destroy, kill, and annihilate all the Jews-- young and old, women and little children-- on a single day." The timing of this edict? It was delivered on the day of Passover. So, the Jewish families received news of their upcoming decimation, but then sat down and celebrated how God had preserved their nation. Part of the yearly celebration was a reading of the account of their deliverance out of slavery and threats of death and into freedom. Wow. Even as they knew their fate was uncertain, they were reminded of their ancestors who had faced the same threats. Passover was (and is) a time of remembering and celebrating God's faithfulness. So, even though it's not Passover, I thought I'd do some remembering and celebrating of my own.
Lately I've been awe-struck by the strength displayed in the women around me. Just a few days ago, a friend of mine became an Ironman! In 2005, after finishing her first triathlon, a dream began for her to complete an Ironman (that's a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run). As that dream was conceived, she had no idea that on her was to earning the title of Ironman, she would face the loss of her husband. Instead of melting under the devastation of becoming a widow, she pushed through the emotional pain and embraced the physical pain of the grueling training. Last year, after training for nine months, she was forced off the Ironman course after not making the cutoff time on the bike. Again, she didn't stay down; she fought through more months and long hours of training to achieve her dream. Tina, you are an Ironman!
Then there's my Mom. Faced with a teen pregnancy (me) at a time when she was forced to finish her education in night school, she didn't take the easy road and drop out, she finished her degree. She ignored the voices that would try to make her believe she was not able, not valuable, and not strong. Instead of becoming bitter, she worked hard and became a giving, loving person who finds time for everyone who needs her. (I'm still trying to get her to make time for herself!)
And my Mom-in-law, who battled and beat cancer herself, but then had to watch her husband of forty years lose his own valiant fight against it. She didn't fade into self-pity or crumble under the "why?" questions. She carries on. Walking every year in the local Relay for Life (often taking the middle of the night shifts that no one else wants). This year she was awarded for participating in more Relays than anyone else in town!
I could go on and on... my friend whose now 21 year old daughter was born with spina bifida. She has been through more health crises with her daughter than any Mom should; my student who's blind, but refuses to use her cane to navigate through the halls at school because her "I can" is bigger than her "I can't." So many women have inspired me. Remembering their refusal to give up and to push through some potentially devastating challenges encourages me to fight through any difficulty that I may face. I'm looking forward to running a 13.1 on Sunday, and I will be running it in honor of the strong women in my life.