Dear Friends in Christ,
You will see by what follows that this eCare is cast in a form that is different than what you are used to seeing. It is, in fact, a letter that I hope will be saved and shared at some time in the future. I am the first one to scoff at the current Facebook craze of writing personal comments to individuals for all the world to see. In my view, if you are going to tell someone that you love them, tell them personally; if you are going to wish them “Happy Birthday” give them a call. That being said, my intention in what follows is not to make a personal communication to my three granddaughters, which I will surely do, but to comment to a larger audience in such a way so as to promote reflection and encourage likeminded affirmation of things that really matter.
Dear Ally, Morgan and Bebe,
I have been thinking about you a great deal this week. This is not unusual as you three girls, along with your cousins, Cooper and Ryan, are almost never out of my thoughts and prayers. “Thoughts and prayers” is a popular expression these days and I often wonder if when people use that phrase they really mean what they say; but when it comes to the five of you, I really mean it. I think of you every day and I pray for you every day.
My thoughts of you three girls this week have been prompted by an article in a popular magazine called TIME. Your folks may subscribe to it so you may have seen it on the coffee table at your house. On the cover there is a picture of a woman, Lori Robinson, who is a 4-star general in the United States Air Force. Under her picture is the banner title of the cover story inside the magazine: “FIRSTS: Women Who Are Changing the World.”
The article includes pictures and profiles of 46 women who were the first to accomplish something the author considers important. Included in this gallery is a woman who was the first to win her party’s nomination for President of the United States (Hillary Clinton), first to become a fulltime coach in the National Football League (Kathryn Smith), first woman to lead in the Indianapolis 500 car race (Danica Patrick), first woman to invent laser cataract surgery (Patricia Bath) as well as others whose “firsts” may be more a matter of the author’s taste or bias than the significance of their achievements (Can you say “Selena Gomez…I knew you could!); but we can talk about them at dinner some time.
The reason the magazine article made me think of you is that it caused me to wonder if someday one or all three of you might be featured in an article like this one. Ally, might you someday be the first woman to land on Mars? Morgan, might you someday be the first woman to be the CEO of the world’s largest construction company? Bebe, I wonder if, someday, you might be the first woman to find the cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. It could very well be for all three of you…but not if you don’t master those 8xs tables!
On the other hand, the number of women who are “firsts” is infinitesimally small when compared to all the women living in the world at the time you are living. It’s not impossible that one or all of you might become a “first” but we’ve got to admit that the odds are against it. If you don’t become a “first” chances are you’ll never wind up in a magazine article because there’s a good chance that the world will place a relatively lower value on who you are and what you do. I don’t mean to be pessimistic, discouraging or curmudgeonly about it…it’s just the way the world works, at least, from my vantage point.
Which is why I am writing you this letter. I’m writing to you three girls to tell you that, as important as the achievements are of the women in the article and, I am sure, of hundreds of women who didn’t make it into the article, there are some things, unappreciated by the world, generally, that, if I were writing a magazine article, I would highlight. In other words, I am praying that your lives will reflect what I think are characteristics that are of a higher, greater, more significant and enduring quality. What are they? What do I pray Bebe, Morgan and Ally will “achieve” in their lives?
First of all, I pray that you will be women of faith. Of far greater significance than what we achieve in life is who we are in life and, in fact, Whose we are. The Bible tells us that if we are going to boast of anything we should boast in the Lord. Being a woman of faith is absolutely fundamental to everything else that you will do and be throughout your life on this earth and for eternity. My prayer for you, and that of Mimi too, is that you will give your lives to Jesus Who first gave His life for you. Being a lover of Jesus may never get you on the cover of a magazine but it will number you among the champions of heaven.
If, as a first and fundamental matter of your life you love Jesus then you will be first in something else that is not heralded by the world but, in my eyes and in the eyes of those who can really see, will place you head and shoulders above all others. I pray that you will be first in character. I pray that you will grow to be women who are first in love, first in compassion, first in kindness, first in tenderness, first in gentleness, first in grace and first in loveliness. The world will often mistake these characteristics as indications of weakness but the world is wrong. The TIME magazine article speaks more about accomplishments than it does about character. But character counts, big time, and I suspect that most of those women, all of whom would be identified as “strong women” are also strong in character.
The Book of Proverbs in chapter 31. 10 asks the question “A good woman, who can find one?” It goes on to give a description of the good woman, a description that, far from being celebrated in a national magazine would probably be panned as sexist, paternalistic, hierarchical and the like. Because it places an emphasis on the woman who is a wife and mother many will reject its teaching, crying “Foul” and countering that the roles of wife and mother are not the primary or sole roles in life to which woman should aspire. There is a lot to be said in a discussion of that nature which we can save for another time and another year in your lives. However, to be first as a mother, as I believe your mothers are, and to be first as a wife, as I believe your mothers are, is something for which you may strive with integrity and hope. In the magazine article I would write I would speak of you as first in being a daughter, a sister, a wife, and mother and a friend. In addition to all that you may be and become I pray for these things for you.
Girls, there is a distinct theme in the article on women “firsts” that, though I understand where it may be coming from, is a mistake to italicize; it is the theme of de-emphasizing one’s gender. Many women today, women like those featured in the article, want to de-emphasize the fact that they are women in favor of emphasizing what they have accomplished. There may be cultural/historical/sociological reasons for doing so but I think it is a mistake and I hope you won’t follow suit. It strikes me that when you de-emphasize the fact that you are a woman you are also de-valuing yourself as a woman. The Bible says that God created man in His image, “male and female He created them” (Genesis 1.27). He then said that His creation of men and women was “very good” (Genesis 1. 31). Celebrating the fact that you are a woman does not devalue your character or your accomplishments and I pray that you will know that God intentionally created you to be a woman and that your life as a woman will be joyous, fulfilling, significant and eternal.
Girls, I think the sky is the limit regarding who you will become and what you will accomplish. I can say this with confidence, not because you are the “first” women to call me Grampie, but because your heavenly Father made you with intentionality and love and He has a wonderful and perfect plan for your lives. I don’t care what TIME magazine says – you three are first women in my book and forever you will be. I love you, Ally. I love you, Morgan. I love you, Bebe.
Always, your Grampie