Taken for granted: Celebrating Women’s History Month
Are there times when you feel like people might be taking you for granted? Work you do? Efforts you make? Money you give? Time you spend?
Over time, our efforts become part of the fabric of life, and people can take our work for granted. From one perspective, this can lead us to feel unappreciated. From another, it demonstrates how efforts can be lasting and part of the fabric of life.
Unfortunately, as we move into the routines of life, we can easily take people and ideas for granted. If those routines changed, however, we would suddenly recognize how important they have become to our everyday experience. I invite you to reflect on the people, ideas and events that would be amazingly different if those factors were not influencing and contributing to your life. When we remember, we can appreciate and offer a word of thanksgiving for them and how they have formed us.
This month provides one of those opportunities. Since 1981, the Congress and President have designated time during March each year to remember the efforts by women who have moved our country closer to its ideals. This year, the President’s proclamation highlights the efforts of women who have created slow and steady progress in “prov[ing] something that should have been self-evident,” that all people are created equal and should be treated as such.
We now live in a time when the gap in pay between men and women is closing, when women are able to enter all areas of education and employment, including armed combat. We almost take these issues for granted, but it has not always been this way. Celebrated this month are women who have made steps toward securing equality for all. Through steady and steadfast lives, women have influenced the current generation and generations to come.
We can celebrate women who are highlighted and applauded proudly in the public arena. They are significant pieces of our national history. We also can celebrate women who are not publicly highlighted, but because of their choice to be a positive influence on others, they have become formative leaders in our lives.
As the Director of the Center for Christian Ethics and Leadership at Gardner-Webb University, I offer you some biblical examples to complement and connect with this month. Strong women of the Bible come to mind like Deborah, a ruler and judge of the Israelites; Esther, who saved the Hebrew people from genocide; Mary the mother of Jesus who accepted the call to bear the Christ child. Let your imagination run to the many women in the Bible who shape and change the lives of others positively. We may even take for granted their influence because they have become part of the basic fabric of the Christian story.
My imagination ran to Lois and Eunice. Who, you may ask? Did she just mention my aunts? Chances are you know or have known a Lois or a Eunice. They could have been taken for granted in the formation of the early church, but the Apostle Paul identifies them in 2 Timothy 1:5.
Have you heard of Paul’s deeply valued friend and able assistant Timothy? Paul sent him on special missions and travelled with him to Thessalonica, Corinth, Ephesus and Jerusalem. But did you know that Paul credits two women, Lois and Eunice, for the formation of the man, Timothy? He says that Timothy’s faith was sincere, without hypocrisy, because of the influence of his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois. The daily lives of these women formed Timothy. Their steadfast faith became his steadfast faith. Rather than being taken for granted, Paul recognizes Lois and Eunice. Their positive lives are remembered and appreciated by Paul, the early church, and generations to come.
If you are someone reading this article and need encouragement, inspiration and strength to step forward, I hope you will take the time to feed your spirit this month. Watch documentaries like the PBS special, Makers. Read a biography or autobiography on a celebrated woman. You can explore stories of women in the Bible. Go to the Women’s History Month website and engage the videos and audio tapes that share the stories and lives of women who acted in good faith to follow their passions and beliefs.
This month as we reflect and remember women in our lives who have changed and broadened our opportunities and who have formed our nation into a country that more closely enacts its ideals of equality, maybe we can also take time to remember women, like our mothers and grandmothers, who through their daily, slow and steady influence are creating who we are becoming.
And similarly, maybe we won’t take for granted the ways we are shaping and influencing the lives of others. This month, let’s both remember and act for positive change that truly will affect generation after generation, a history worth remembering.
Dr. Lisa Wimberly Allen is the Director of the GWU Center for Christian Ethics and Leadership and serves as assistant professor of Christian ethics at Gardner-Webb University.