She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness (Proverbs 31:25-26, New Living Translation).
Strength! Beauty! And, grace! She promises all of this to you.
Shaggy sings of her,
Tender lips that’s so so sweet
Gentle words she softly speaks
Such an angel when we need
GOD bless the ground beneath her feet
She can take you on a high
Be your comfort when you cry
But if you look into her eyes
You’ll see the strength of a woman
Strength of a woman (Shaggy, 2002).
Love her and she will be everything your heart ever desired. Hate her and she will be the strength that you wish you still had when she walks out the door.
Imagine the names of the most celebrated women around the world. From political leaders, entrepreneurs, and entertainers, to athletes, teachers, and missionaries, phenomenal women continue to rise. Consider the names of the women that you celebrate: mothers, grandmothers, aunts, teachers, neighbours, and friends. The list is endless. But, our stories are the same because we are women.
Imagine strength developed to serve the world in excellence. Imagine beauty that paints the world with the colours that live in our souls. Imagine grace that forgives insult and works to alleviate pain and suffering for others. We know that we do not have to compete against the ones we love; we simply need to walk beside them.
Mary J. Blige reminds all the men who walk next to phenomenal women, that we are,
Not saying move over, I’m just here to help
That’s what God made me for, you ain’t gotta build by yourself
You got your pride, don’t let it make you blind
Don’t need to be walking behind, you’re better with me by your side
How can life go on without me here?
It’s impossible, oh, oh
All the pain endured to give life
And we keep giving and giving and giving and that’s the
Strength of a woman … (Mary J. Blige, Brandon Hodge, Benjamin Wright, Davion Farris, & Eric Dawkins, 2017).
One of the most familiar idioms of motherhood is “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” Why is this so? Research shows that sex roles and gender roles embody the social expectations concerning the typical and appropriate behavior of men and women. Despite cultural shifts since the mid-20th century, female gender roles continue to define women in their role as nurturer, with the primary task of building community (Eccles, 1994). She is relational and is valued for her interpersonal skill, expressivity, and emotional sensitivity. On the other hand, she is expected to raise sons who are agentic, who are focused on themselves, strive for independence and assert their rights. Gender roles are so influential that her cognitive skills, hobbies, and occupational choice can be helped or hindered by it (Eagly et. al., 2000, 2004).
Beyoncé expressed our pain well when she said, “… lets face it, money gives men the power to run the show. It gives men the power to define our values and to define what’s sexy and what’s feminine … At the end of the day, it’s not about equal rights, it’s about how we think. We have to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves” (Style Caster, 2017). As women, we have to decide for ourselves what we are worth. Even if a woman is independently wealthy, there will be a point in her relationship where she will be vulnerable and left wounded by her mate. But, the miracle is that she keeps on giving and giving and giving.
Wise women share the capacity to look at the future and smile (Proverbs 31:25) because we know that no matter what we face today, things will change tomorrow. When people ask you, “How do you do that?” or, “Why do you do that?” Respond like Amelia Earhart and say, “The most effective way to do it, is to do it.”
Sometimes it is challenging to break out of our shells. Kerry Washington reveals the journey of an introvert because she is often described as a loner. But, as we mature we can learn to allow people to support us. Although very self-reliant and private, we do not always have to work things out alone and protect people from what’s going on with us.
I am guessing that women learned to carry burdens through carrying children. Then when we had children, we learned to shoulder their pain as well as our own. Women ceaselessly care about those they love and do their best to shelter them from harm.
But it is time to stretch again. Mae Jemison said, “Never limit yourself because of others’ limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination.” As we celebrate another Women’s Month in March 2018, and International Women’s Day, dust off your Women’s membership card. And, get a copy of Dear Little Sister, … on Lulu Press for all your little women to show them how powerful they can be; also, share it with your little men so they can love us better.