When you crack open the pages of a bestseller or God’s Book,
Is a woman in that story? Did she risk her life, reputation, well-being for the care and safety of others?
When you crack open an orange or munch on almonds for snacking,
Is a woman in that story? Did she till the soil, tirelessly reap the harvest, carry the water jugs on her head, transport the heavy loads?
When we get dressed in the morning and change into comfort in the evening,
Is a woman in that story? Is she 80% of the textile industry that weaves the fabrics, labors over sewing machines, processes and sells the raw materials to feed her children and community?
When we travel to school or work, by foot or by vehicle,
Is a woman in that story? Did she invent the brake pads, windshield wipers, GPS, or even brake lights that keep you and me safe every day?
When you work or play, when you look at a screen,
Is a woman in that story? Did she develop the algorithm and software for our work and our video games, Monopoly and Skip-bo for tabletops? Did she move mountains for others without ever receiving credit or accolade, in the shadows behind a man in power?
Today is an ordinary day, like any other. Yet, let us remember the thousands of ordinary days behind us and in front of us — when women were an essential part of our lives. When we weren’t even able to put our feet on the bedroom floor without benefiting from the incredibly brilliant inventions, work and passion-driven examples of skilled, underestimated females. Women who have inspired, led, raised us. I thank God for them.
And I am reminded of the feminine identity that God takes on in these names (and others):
- El Shaddai, the nurturing (breast-feeding) God
- Yahweh, Yah (feminine) weh (masculine)
- Elohim, Genesis 1, feminine and masculine “us, we”
- “Mother Hen,” a protector in Luke 13
- “Mad Mother Bear,” Hosea 13
- “Mother Eagle,” Deuteronomy 32
- The Holy Spirit, many forms, many examples
And I am reminded of the women in Scripture (many of whom are unnamed) who allowed God’s presence and providence to glow through their life narratives:
- Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Anna
- The Marys, Martha, Elizabeth, Bathsheba
- The mothers and daughters of Isaiah, the Beloved of Solomon, the unfaithful wife
- Herodias, Eve, Delilah, Esther, Gomer
- Wisdom, the woman at the well, the widows, the coin finder, the anointer of Jesus
- Vashti, Oholah, the Syrophoenician woman, Oholibah, Mahlah, Hoglah, Tirzah, Claudia and Prisca
- Lois and Eunice, the brides, the 10 bridesmaids (that’s too many!), Rebekah, Sarah, Hagar, Priscilla, Sapphira and Naomi
- Lydia, Chloe, Potiphar’s wife, Dinah, Jael, Nympha, Rachel and Leah
- … and many, many more.
As Christ followers, you and I carry a deep responsibility to share and teach the stories of women. Because the stories of women are the stories of life. And a woman’s story always honors God who created all, in deep love and in a sense of eternal belonging. When females around our precious globe are treated unjustly, it affects all of us negatively; the opposite holds true, too.
So let us think about the stories of women and how they have personally and communally affected each of our lives. How do we lift women up and offer space at our tables for leadership, learning, belonging? What are you currently doing to stifle the great gifting of a woman in your life? (Yes, women can stifle other women, too.) How can you be a part of the change? Who needs to be heard and seen?
Laurel Cluthe serves as pastor of families at Holmeswood Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo.
I knew the truth about women in the Bible, and I stayed silent | Opinion by Beth Allison Barr
This Christmas, they can try to control the Bible, but they can’t have Jesus | Opinion by Laura Mayo