One summer evening when I was 10-years-old, my family joined in a neighborhood gathering. The parents sat on a patio chatting and fanning themselves while the children ran around the yard chasing lightning bugs. At one point, a boy my age came over and started sassing me. I guess he’d never had a girl stand up to him because when I did so, he hit me so hard that I couldn’t see straight. I just remember hearing his father yelling as he ran across the yard, “Don’t hit her! She’s just a girl!” Without thinking, I shouted back, “I am NOT a girl.”
While I was perfectly proud of being female, that statement was the only way I knew how to articulate that I didn’t want to be held to a standard that society set for girls or women. You see, even at a young age, I realized what it meant to be a female in our society (and I thank my mother’s love of “Mary Tyler Moore” for that). In spite of growing up in the wake of the feminist movement of the 1970s, I also understood hat women still had a long row to hoe, especially in the “modern” South.
As I journeyed through high school, college and my early 20s, my idealism and flair for social justice seemed to lead me to believe that things would change in my lifetime. Certainly, given the strides made by women not just in the 70s but in decades and centuries prior to my being born, I didn’t consider that desire to be an unreasonable expectation.
As I have grown into a my role as career woman, mother, and deaconess, however, I find that the struggle for equality and justice still exists for women today. Often I wonder, how can I make a difference? How can I change the world just a bit so that my daughter doesn’t have to prove herself simply because of her gender–something that was not her choice.
There are days, however, when that passion inside of me becomes deflated, and I wilt under the burden of stereotypes and barriers placed on me by men and sadly, by other women.
Sometimes when I get to feeling that way, I spend time outside alone with the Creator trying to discern what it’s all about or at least find peace in nature to sustain me. And in the midst of this week’s manic weather, Mother Nature said, “Listen up, sweet lady.”
You may have heard that down in the South this week, we had a bit of a cold snap and some unexpected snow. As I arrived home on Tuesday night, I stepped out of my car in need of a stroll through the gardens before heading inside. I looked around at my spring flower beds and wondered how they would survive this sudden blast of freezing temps and icy snow.
With a heavy heart, I trudged down the path expecting disappointment and dead flowers. Under wet, white crystals, the daffodils hung their heads low as if the weight of the world rested on their shoulders. But sure enough, in spite of blizzard-like bursts of wind and snow, they held their ground.
As the evening continued, and snow fell, the daffodils flattened against the ground. I was afraid all hope was lost–that my beloved spring flowers had given way to the blustery weather.
And yet, when I took the dogs out early Wednesday morning, my yard was filled with sunny faces, blowing in the chilly breeze and appreciating the sun that melted the snow and warmed their petals. Yet again, they raised their heads high to the sky welcoming a new day.
Resilience. It warmed my spirit.
Often, I find that Creation teaches me lessons that I need to learn most just at the right time. This week, I am thankful for snowy daffodils that wait patiently for the Light that lifts the burden. It is this resilience that sustains them as they weather the storm–even an unexpected Spring snow.