Behind every woman, there is a woman who taught, molded, or influenced her. In thinking about the women in my life and those I read about; I want to share with you the women that I looked up to or that taught me something along they way.
My Great-grandmother Lottie was definitely the matriarch of the family. Her life story is truly amazing! Born in Louisiana in the 1920s, both her parents died when she was a toddler and then kidnapped by neighbors to be worked as a farm girl, to being kidnapped back by her elder siblings before the age of 10. She traveled The Chittlin’ Circuit with the circus as a dancer and then headed out to the Northwest to find work on the seaports. She was bold, she was courageous, and she was full of love. My GG had this hearty laugh that could fill a room; even if something was not that funny, her laughter alone would spread and make you laugh to. What I take from my GG, is to be fearless and live with conviction; and let your home be a place of peace and tranquility. She lived that to the fullest and now I carry that too.
My Grandmother Carolyn, daughter of Lottie, is a woman with a plan and about action. Naturally so,as a young woman in the 1960-1970s, she was a woman with a cause; a Black Panther, a poet, an activist. With her sandy red hair and black leather glove, she was a woman of action. Carolyn was and still is a relentless Doer. I watched her for years care for her elder brother as he battled with the progression of Sarcoidosis, assist raising grandchildren, and great grands, to retire after 35 years working for the City of Portland, just to go back (because she was such an asset to the city), to retire again. As my grandmother approaches the eighth decade of her life; she has not stopped doing. My grandmother is the beacon of a woman with purpose and a burning light; I admire her tenacity and “Can-do”.
My mother, the daughter of Carolyn,granddaughter of Lottie, by far, is one of the most influential women in my life. Through her grace and love, she endured hardships and heartaches, yet always stayed true to her faith and her family. My mother taught me strength and endurance.She was proactive in our, my siblings and I, education; every summer without fail, she had us reading at least 5 books a week and 10 math problems a day. Although we despised having to do “classwork” during the summer, I understand how my mother was vested and dedicated to the education of her children. She instilled in us the importance of learning and being knowledgeable; and having a voice of your own. My mother was the life support of my family growing up. She taught me what true motherhood was; love, discipline, and sacrifice. Although we see the world through different lenses today; she has always been supportive of me and allowed me to blossom in my own. She taught me to embrace my weaknesses, my strengths, and taught her children to seek respect and not likes.
Sarah, the wife of Abraham, was considered to be the most beautiful woman of her time; so beautiful that Abraham feared that more powerful men would try to kill him for her. Sarah’s story can be found in the book of Genesis; she is also mentioned in the New Testament twice for her faith and her submission to her husband Abraham; to the point she called him”lord”. While today, we may not call our husbands “lord”, it was her way of expressing her commitment and submissiveness to him. Strangely enough, these two principles, faith and submission actually go together. A submissive wife is a sign of faith that The Most High is working through her husband to accomplish what is best for her and the family. Hebrews 8:11 mentions how Abraham was called by faith to go to a place her never been or knew how to get to; and although Sarah was not mentioned, we know she was right there with him as he led her and the family. I want to point out that Sarah was a capable and intelligent woman, not weak, spineless, or overtly dependent; her name meant “my princess” which could have been a reference to her upbringing, her education level, and beauty. She had servants and knew how to deal with them; she even had the wisdom to see the dangers of Hagar’s son toward her son. Sarah was chosen to be the mother of a legacy, with a man that was handpicked by The Most High to be the Father of Nations. With a destiny like that, her faith and submission would be challenged, even to the point of years of being barren, when promised she would have a son. What I take from Sarah’s life is that faith and submission to my husband will be tested; but I have to be willing and full of prayer to endure. Sarah was a woman of promise that understood the headship of her husband; she allowed him to lead her and not doubt him, even when he may have became doubtful. She supported and trusted in him and in the promise to come. Like Sarah, when doubt tries to enter, I will seek peace in my promises and relationship with my husband.
Hadassah, better known as Queen Esther, was chosen to be wife of King Xerxes of Persia. Her story is found in the Old Testament in the book Esther. Hadassah was an orphaned raised by her older cousin Mordecai, during the time of the Jews exile from Israel and Judea. They were subjected to a foreign land under a foreign King that was not familiar with their customs or God. After the exile of current Queen Vashti, the King of Persia set out to find a new wife. Hence, every maiden was brought and prepped for 12 months to be presented to the King. Hadassah was one of the most beautiful and humble woman of them all, and wise enough to seek advice from the King’s eunuch of his taste; that King Xerxes fell for her and chose her to be his new Queen. In this foreign land, her name was changed to Esther and she was thrusted into royalty where she easily could have become accustomed to her new lifestyle and forget all about her people and their plight. Through wise counsel, from her cousin, she realized her placement as Queen was a divine set up; that she was crowned with destiny to save her people from destruction. In those days, wife or not, the Queen could not enter the King’s court unless summoned; thirty days passed since the last time the King summoned her. Entering the King’s court without his permission or summon was punishable to death. “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14).Her story not so much about a woman winning a fairy tale life, but a story of a woman who was born with a calling in her life to be an advocate for her people, an Executive. We are all born with a purpose, but it is up to us to live and fulfill it; although there may be risks involved, stand true to your calling and know that whatever God puts together, there will be provisions for it to come to pass; all you have to is enter the court.