As a young man growing up with my mother and sisters I have had some experience with women. I have four sisters and a positive relationship with each of them. They are all very different, but there is one thing that is strikingly similar about them – their ability to persevere. I often read about women who fought for (and some still do fight for) equal rights. I’ve listened to stories about a woman who sat on a bus and refused to get up. I hear about women who “fight”; not physically, but methodically. Through patience, persistence and perseverance to achieve their goal.
It wasn’t until I really meditated on this Bible verse that I understood this type of fighting that many women that I look up to participate in. It goes like this “Rejoice brothers and sisters when you face trials of all kinds. For the testing of your faith build perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4).
The fight in question here is not one of brute strength, rather it is one of endurance and perseverance which lead to maturity and wholeness. Take pregnancy and birth for example. For 9 months a pregnant woman carries a seed inside of her body. She houses that seed and must nurture the seed in the correct way so that it grows. The house, which is her body goes through changes. As the seed grows, so does the vessel carrying it, and with the growth comes internal and external challenges. For example, for many there are bowel problems, backache, morning sickness, swelling, varicose veins, etc, etc. In spite of these challenges the woman continues on. She cultivates the seed, changing her lifestyle to provide a suitable womb for the healthy growth of her child.
Then there is the end. After the 9 months (or sometimes shorter), she must move (push) the grown fetus out of her body and into the world. Just when you thought it was over comes a greater challenge and a greater risk; for giving birth is a risky feat. Did you know, at the beginning of the 20th century, for every 1000 live births, six to nine women in the United States died of pregnancy-related complications, and approximately 100 infants died before age 1 year? So the sacrifice of her body may yield the ultimate sacrifice of her life. Why? So that another could live.
The point doesn’t end with live pregnancy. It also pertains to birthing ideas, dreams, and movements for things like liberty (Viola Desmond), freedom (Harriet Tubman), and equality (Roberta Bondar). It includes women like my mother, your mother, your sister, friend, niece, or even you. They all had a dream, that was just like a seed. They changed their lifestyle to water it, persisted in order to nurture it, and overcame so that they could cultivate it into reality. Some took/take 9 months and others years, but in the end, they give birth to an ideal that changes someone’s world.
In light of International Women’s Day I would like to express my gratitude to all women, who for me, teach me one of the greatest lessons in leadership – perseverance.