I was 9
years old when I got the pep-talk of all womanly pep-talks from my mama. A bike
race down a steep hill ended when I lost control of my pink, banana-seated
cycle and landed face first on the pavement. There was blood. I heard the word “stitches”
and began to cry. When we got to the E.R., my mom took me to the ladies’ room to
clean me up as best she could. When I saw my bloody reflection in the mirror, I
began to shake. That’s when Mama spoke
words that have defined my understanding of womanhood. “We’re women,” she said.
“The sight of blood doesn’t scare us. We’re used to seeing it, and we’re the
ones who bandage wounds in battle.”
When my mom equated strength to femininity, my spirit surged, and suddenly
bearing my bloody chin bravely became a badge of womanhood. Throughout my life,
mama did a great job of sharing the stories of brave women in my history. Women
who survived abuse, women who started businesses, women who stood up for the
underdogs. Courage became as fused into feminine identity as compassion,
gentleness and kindness.
last decade or so, culture has been heavy handed in its take on female strength.
We perpetuate icons of sensual power and competitive ambition that are supposed
to signal that we’ve arrived in the marketplace, on the battlefront and in our
autonomy, yet it’s done little to cultivate true courage.
in the gym’s parking lot at night, when confronting an aggressive individual,
when giving a presentation in a room full of critics, the accomplishments of
feminism do not prepare me to face danger. They don’t equip me with wisdom nor
keep me calm and confident under stress. Plenty of modern women still spend
their lives paralyzed or bullied by fear in all its forms.
women seem to have to face fear more frequently. When you hear something in the
night, there is no one to inspect the situation with a bat in hand, but you.
But fear is an ever-present reality for all of us because the world is broken,
and we are acquainted with it. We know that it lurks in picket-fenced
cul-de-sacs as well as it does in brick-clad, inner-city projects. Evil is a
main character on primetime dramas as well as the on the morning
I’ve been experiencing fear tingle down my spine when coming home late at night
and when facing looming deadlines at work. It’s in those times that I remind
myself that I come from a long line of brave women, and cowardice is not in my
when courage really surges within me, it’s when I remember the simple yet
profound truth that God is good and loving. I can trust Him to protect me from
danger and restore me when tragedy strikes.
our refuge and strength, a very present help
in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of
the sea, though its waters roar and
foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling (Psalm 46:1-3).
courage of my foremothers is ultimately not about prowess in danger, but in
their resilient spirits that look a lot like what is described in the Bible as
a gift from God: “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and
of love and a sound mind” (1 Timothy 1:7).
we respond to fear is critical. It will either perpetuate bondage in our lives
or unleash freedom. It will make us victims, or it will drape us in strength
and dignity (Proverbs 31:25).
contemplating your 401K, navigating through a rough part of town, or leading a
demanding project at work, how will you reject fear and embrace the power, love
and a sound mind that are God’s good gifts to you?