"Somedays she has no idea how she'll do it. But every single day, it still gets done." Unknown
That simple phrase rings true in my own life, as I'm sure it does for many of you. The demands are usually greater than my ability to accomplish everything I'd like before my head hits the pillow. It's easy to become overwhelmed by the need.
I had the privilege of spending time with a small group of women just this week, facilitating discussion about their vision for in-home women's ministry. I wanted to give them powerhouse examples of those who'd come before - women who'd put their comfort (and many times safety) on the line for the sake of spreading the gospel and protecting their people.
How did our forerunners of faith live?
What choices did they make when faced with disappointment or hardship?
What jobs and positions did they hold within the community?
How did they use their resources, however great or minuscule?
I had questions, but knew one thing: There was a stark stereotype of biblical womanhood. If nothing else, a Christian lady should always be kind, agreeable, humble, and hardworking. She seemed like a character in a detergent commercial to me, always smiling. Washing clothes. Cooking. Raising babies. Sewing. Again, smiling. Most of us could manage at least a couple of the activities listed, right? We think we understand the expectations, but is the real-life application what we envision in our minds?
Although I was familiar with the writers' descriptions of admirable female behavior in the Bible, I would have been much less comfortable telling you how faithful women of the Word actually made Testament headlines. I bet you'll be as surprised as I was as I reviewed their stories.
Here are a few lady firecracker facts* you need to know:
Rahab had the guts to commit treason against her own people to help the Israelites. Some have gone so far as to stop introducing her by her old job description, and now honor her as a daredevil of faith.
Miriam never married. She was a single, musical, prophet, who alongside her brothers, helped to lead Israel out of Egypt.
Abigail was married to a less-than-desirable guy. Due to her quick wit and calm demeanor, she managed to save him from death.
Mary chose theological discussions with Jesus instead of scurrying to carry out Jewish expectations for hospitality.
Huldah was both a prophet and a royal adviser.
Sheerah was she who "built the towns of Lower and Upper Beth-horon and Uzzen-sheerah."
King Lemuel's Mother taught inspiring lessons.
Rachel was a herder who tended her family's flocks, much like other young women of the day.
Shiprah and Puah disobeyed the rulers in authority by rescuing young children from danger.
Zelophehad's Daughters petitioned for legal rights to their inheritance.
Deborah led an army and gave orders alongside Barrack.
Judith beheaded an Assyrian general, Holofernes, and was lauded for both her courage, and for her insight into God's character and actions.
These are just of the few women who will take you by surprise should you dare to look closely enough at their lives. Whatever your take on their stories, we can agree that they lived interesting lives. Gritty and brave, they followed God and risked bold decisions. Some of those decisions paid off, others resulted in tumultuous consequences. Each woman lived within the confines of her cultural place in history, but managed to hear God's voice above it all.
We can too - amidst the pressure of modern stereotypes. Despite an over-focus on beauty and youth. Work stress. Calls to parenthood perfection and relationship status.
Be inspired by the women who came before, because you never know when you too will be called into battle!
A sister in treason,
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*Adapted from Marg Mowczko's "25 Biblical Roles for Biblical Women"
Photo Credit: Brooke Lark
M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy. Earns Crossfit participation trophies. Disaster cook. Enthusiastic wife. #Boymom. Clutches her faith, not her pearls.