It is the day after the election, and we’re waiting.
Once again, we’re waiting.
But waiting is not new to women.
I imagine what it would have been like for Mary Magdalene and the other women who waited a day and a half after Jesus’ death to go to the tomb to prepare his body. Was their waiting filled with anxiety, sadness and dread about having to attend the body of someone to whom they had committed their lives? Or was their waiting filled with expectation since they remembered hearing Jesus predict his own death and resurrection?
I also wonder what the waiting would have been like for all of the women (and men) gathered in the Upper Room after Jesus’ ascension. Jesus had told them to stay in Jerusalem and wait to receive the power of the Holy Spirit. During that week or so of waiting, did they wake up each morning in anticipation, thinking this would be the day something explosive would happen? Or did each of them secretly struggle to believe that anything was going to happen at all?
In 2020, the year that marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, I also imagine how it would have felt to have been a suffragette and waited to see if I would ever have the chance to participate in democracy. Would my waiting have been hopeful or pessimistic?
But even after passage of the 19th amendment, if I were a woman of color and had to continue to wait for the right to have a voice in our governing processes, I have to think my waiting would have contained some anger.
And despite our right to vote, women in the United States are still waiting.
We hear statements from politicians that demonstrate to us that our work, our careers, our jobs, are not valued like those of men. We hear politicians say if we follow a “traditional” family structure then there will be a place for us in America. We read the words of elevated political speakers who advocate for “household voting.”
“No matter the political party with which we affiliate, these statements demonstrate a devaluing of women in our country, and our response to them need not be partisan.”
No matter the political party with which we affiliate, these statements demonstrate a devaluing of women in our country, and our response to them need not be partisan.
As women are waiting for these kinds of statements no longer to appear in the public sphere or to ring true in people’s ears, our waiting is sometimes angry, but surprisingly, our waiting still sometimes finds hope for change.
And as Baptist women, especially Baptist women who feel called to ministry, we have been waiting a long time as well.
For the Baptist women who came generations before me, I wonder what their waiting was like. Was their waiting filled with hope and expectation? Or did their waiting contain anger? Or did they constantly struggle to believe that anything was going to happen at all?
In today’s Baptist world, we have certainly seen great progress for the affirmation of women’s value and leadership in the church. However, we are still waiting for all women to be fully empowered to live out their callings.
But like Mary Magdalene, the women in the Upper Room, the suffragettes, and women among the Civil Rights Movement, we are claiming our place in the story and we are working to change the outcome of our waiting.
We might sometimes be angry. We might sometimes struggle to find belief. We might even have expectation and find hope.
But in the midst of it all, we have learned a truth that cannot be denied: The waiting of women is powerful.
Meredith Stone serves as executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry.