To the Truly Brave Women

1:00 AM

The world recently celebrated international women's day. I know there is a women's history month and there have been some pretty big women's movements of late like #metoo and the like. There has been a lot of talk about the bravery of women. Here are some of the women I've seen other people recently call brave:

  • Someone gets the spotlight because they were yet another victim sexually abuse
  • A star comes out that they are gay
  • A woman writes a blog post about how she is ditching a moral standard, and it goes viral
  • A woman calls herself brave for leaving a selfish (or narcissistic) husband and her friends pat her on the back and cheer
Some of the things I listed are not outright wrong things. However, I think that the people who have been the bravest I know have been the people who chose a harder path, one that didn't bring them any public applause. These are the women I would like to honor today.

It may be a bit cliche to put my mother on this list, but there is a good reason for this. You see, there are some women that the more I got to know them, the most disenchanted I became. The longer I live, the more in awe I stand of my mother. My mom was raised in a non-christian home with a verbally abusive father. While she shared a bond with her, her mother was bitter, and her advice was shallow or left her to figure out things on her own. While they stayed married, their marriage wasn't a good one. Her parents were emotionally distant from each other and their children.

At eighteen, she went off to school, and nineteen she married a guy that was everything her mother taught her to look for who ended up being abusive and cheated on her. At twenty she had a child that both her husband and her parents had told her to get rid of. She became a Christian at twenty-one and felt God had called her to stay in her increasingly difficult marriage. At twenty-two, her husband left her for another woman and divorced my mother.

Does all of this make my mother a brave woman? No, what she is now is what makes her brave. My mother bears many emotional scars from all she has been through. Yet, I have never heard her use them as an excuse for her behavior, not once. I have listened to many women talk about how they can't help how they react because of such-and-such a thing happened to them. My mother, while I know that some things that she did, especially in my early childhood, might have been from those scares, she never let them be an excuse. 

I would love to go on, but I think that I will end it there. 

Gloria is a woman few people outside my corner of the world were privileged to know. I didn’t know her until I worked elections, but she became a dear friend, and her memory is still a powerful force in my life, even though she went to heaven in 2012. She was always smiling, always looking at the bright side of things, and even though I saw two women who also worked with me say harsh things toward her, she always had a gentle answer to turn them away. She was always talking about her blessings. It wasn’t until we were working our second election together that I found out how brave this woman was.

Gloria lived in constant pain. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was going on, at least with the limited testing her insurance would allow. She had grown up in the house with an alcoholic father who abused her mother. Her husband, before he came to a saving faith, had also struggled with alcoholism and verbal abuse. She had a daughter she took to the doctor, the doctor said she was overreacting, and the daughter died in her arms that night. Her life was far from a bed of roses. Yet, she was always smiling, always looking for ways to bless people, and always talking about the goodness of God. I’m still humbled by this woman’s example of a life so wholly surrendered to the father that she forgave those who had wronged her from the heart and lived life with a smile, even as Leukemia tore at her body in the last days. 

Perry, Kandace, and the moms like them

When mothers gather around at church, they will often recite the problems of their children. In a world that keeps repeating that motherhood is hard and pretty much the worst job ever, these two and others like them (ahem like my mom) refuse to play that game. Yes, they are honest that being a mom isn't all fun and games, but they take joy in it. Most of what they talk about are the good, the fun, and the poignant moments of being a mommy. In a world that pressures them to be negative about their job, they remain honest but positive.

Elisabeth, Lea, and others like them

As I talked about on Valentine’s day, being single has been a little harder the last few months. Yet, I have older sisters in the faith that I have watched for the last few years. They are honest about their longings, disappointments, and tears. Yet, they refuse to give up their ideals. They still pursue God with passion. They don’t see their singleness as a broken promise, but as God’s best for them even when it doesn’t feel like it. In a culture that looks down on those who don’t have a significant other, these ladies are the truly brave ones. I pray that I can follow their example, as they follow Christ.

These are truly brave women. They live their lives, unseen by the world, quietly doing what God has called them to. The news media doesn't show up to get their story. There isn't a hashtag celebrating their daily courage to live counterculture. In fact, there are many who mock them, criticize their choices, and try to shame them.

Who are the brave women in your life?

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