Editor’s note: This is a CBE 2022 Writing Contest Honorable Mention!
It’s important to tell our own stories because they’re our stories. At times we may think our stories are not very important to the rest of the world, but do not be mistaken. When we let others tell our stories, we may be co-opted or relegated to an afterthought, allowing someone else to interpret our experiences. Today, I am urging you to be courageous enough to take back your voice. Your story is not only important to you but may also be important and beneficial to women and girls of all generations to come. Our voices matter!
As we share our authentic voices, we may help another woman or girl-child going through similar challenges or issues. I have found this to be true as we engage stories of our ancient mothers in the Bible with our own lives.
Women’s Stories Matter Today
As women, we have not shared enough about our lives, our mothers’ lives, and our ancestors’ stories. Information about women and our lives is missing from the history books. Details about the lives of biblical women and the spiritual mothers of our local churches have not been preserved.
We have missed many important messages, stories, and lessons that could have assisted us as women in making hard decisions. I have learned many lessons from other women sharing why they made the choices they made—and what they perceived their choices were. They help me to understand more fully the condition of women in our society—yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Today, women are avid readers, highly educated, and have increasing incomes. Women have the financial and societal capabilities to influence articles, books, magazines, and print media. We now have the opportunity to lessen the margin and, hopefully, relieve the deficiency of our stories going out into the world. Proudly sharing our stories as women will ensure the transmittal of our unique wisdom from generation to generation. Let’s make sure we are leaving footprints along our way, creating pathways for our little girls to discover.
Women’s Stories Mattered in the Bible
As we study the Bible, we may notice that very seldom do we hear the opinions or the backstories of women. The Bible is also often translated into a language of maleness that drowns out their voices.
Digging into the context and language of the Bible reveals deeper meanings. There is a clarity that comes from searching the Scriptures. As we study the multi-layered stories, we unearth some of the other persons in the story that we missed before because they were so briefly mentioned or implied. Who do we unearth? We unearth women who were more than we imagined. They were prophets, judges, deacons, and apostles! What if we passed down their examples to our daughters?
The voices of women are speaking out to us—no, they are screaming and shouting to be heard as we turn the pages of our Bibles.
If we look, we will find them. And if we listen closely, we will hear our scriptural mothers’ voices. Take the story of Naomi and Ruth. As we listen for the female voice, we discover important messages about ancient womanhood and the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters. Engaging friendship developed once both women accepted and respected who they were collectively and individually as adults. My long-standing women’s ministry, the Circle of Ruth, was inspired by the chapter on Ruth and Naomi in Rev. Dr. Renita J. Weems’s book Just a Sister Away. She states, “To care passionately about the quality of another woman’s life, to respect each other’s choices, and to allow for each other’s differences: these are the lessons embedded in the Book of Ruth” (34).
How Will You Share Your Story?
Let us imagine that all these stories—those we have discovered, our family oral histories, those stories we may have forgotten—are all gifts from God. As we are being pressured to conform to the traditions of societal cultural norms, let us not forget our own stories. These living testimonies passed down from generation to generation will keep us and those who come after us from turning away from God. They will give us power and the Holy Spirit to enable us to revive our lives. This is why I believe female spiritual writers are especially needed at this time in history, to show up and be a conduit for women in and out of the church. It is important to share this knowledge with younger women and girls as they start to move into womanhood and become mentors to others.
The time is now for women everywhere to proudly share their stories. These biblical, historical, and familial stories will guide and lead us toward a future where women and girls are empowered to boldly embrace God’s call on their lives.