I’m lucky to be a churchgoing woman on any given Sunday, but on no Sunday am I luckier to sit in the pew, a pink-cheeked child on either side of me, than I am on Mothers Day. I cannot imagine passing this (rather odd) holiday anywhere else. A day that could be dismissed as yet another commercial obligation created by the greeting card companies becomes, instead, a day to sit and reflect on who I am and who I’m trying to become. Sitting in church this morning, I was thankful for three big fat things in my life:
1) That I get to be a mother
2) That I get to teach my children about my beliefs
3) That I have beliefs to teach them.
Think about that last one with me. Whatever your belief system is, aren’t you simply grateful that you have one? There’s a lot of nice things we can teach our children about kindness and love, but I’m thankful to have a skeleton of doctrine with which to hold that Nice Stuff up.
With that, I want to share with you a quote that I heard over the pulpit this Mothers Day. Though I’ve heard it before, I never seem to tire of it. Perhaps you’ve heard it yourself:
“Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity.” (Margaret Nadauld, 2000.)
You may not consider yourself religious, but I’m willing to bet that you do consider yourself a woman of God. And if you don’t, you should—because you are. And under that consideration, you are given permission to stop trying to be tough, and coarse, and (most thankfully) popular. No matter how women around you (or, by the world’s standards, beyond you) are behaving, you are allowed—and expected—to behave differently. Because as a woman of God, those harsh qualities are not in your nature.
What a relief.
Instead, you are allowed—and expected—to cultivate what is in your nature: tenderness, kindness, refinement (yes, refinement—in the year 2014!) Faithfulness. Goodness. Virtue. Purity.
Your birthright. What you already are. What you really wanted to be, all along.
In the swirling sea of social media, with its “likes” and “pins” and “tweets” and “hits,” never has the hunger for popularity been more insatiable and less rewarding, the thirst for fame more democratized and less deserved. Vanity rages in the era of the “selfie,” coarseness reigns in the era of voyeurism. It seems everyone is stretching their hand into a dark digital abyss, grasping for a vague validation from an invisible and indifferent audience. Today’s world is a strange one, and what was once an adolescent desperation for the approval of our peers is now, via cyberspace, following us into adulthood. But take heart. Because as women of care–women of character–we can rise above it.
This quote from the year 2000 is my Emancipation Proclamation for 2014. If I can remember who I am, I can remember what I’m not. In a world of women who stake their claim of power and popularity with the very aggression that should alienate them, I will continually remind myself to remind myself: I don’t have to be that way, and I don’t even want to be that way. It’s just not who I am.
Because I am not a woman of the world. I am a woman of God.