As both Women’s History Month (March) and International Women’s Day (March 8) approach, we can look forward to celebrating the stories of trailblazers like Rosa Parks, Leymah Gbowee and ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton.
Their examples give women everywhere hope and inspiration to make our own ways in the world.
But it can also be a little daunting, can’t it?
I mean, what about those of us who spend our days working hard, caring for our loved ones and getting into bed feeling as if we’ve hardly started our to-do lists, let alone left our marks on society?
Are we no less bold, courageous or inspirational?
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I think of my grandmother, Mary—whose name you won’t even find in the phone book, let alone a history text—who took a job in a factory building airplanes during World War II at a time when most women were expected to marry young and stay home with the family.
Did her work change the world? Maybe not.
But where would my family be if Grandma had stayed on the farm? Who would have read Frog and Toad to me? Who would have driven my sister to the Secretary of State, dropped her off at the door and insisted she figure out how to get a social security card herself?
Or there’s my mom, Kathryn.
She might not have a Wikipedia entry, but say her name to any of the neighbor kids, nieces and nephews who needed somewhere to turn on a bad day, and they’ll tell you about a bold woman who will not only turn a fiery tongue on anyone treating another unfairly but who can whip up the world’s best peanut butter fudge.
In Hope in the Dark, her manifesto on acting boldly, author Rebecca Solnit writes, “In Hurricane Katrina, hundreds of boat owners rescued people… None of them said, I can’t rescue everyone, therefore it’s futile; therefore my efforts are flawed and worthless…”
We can’t all rescue everyone. We won’t all end up on the evening news for acts of valor or have our stories shared on International Women’s Day, but we can all be bold enough to get in our “boats”—to be on the lookout for those who need us.
This women’s history month, let’s not only celebrate Katie Luther, Amelia Earhart and Ruth Bader Ginsberg but women everywhere who are bold enough to hear God calling and follow wherever they are led.
Photos of Sarah’s grandmother, Mary, with Sarah, left, and her sister, Jennifer; and Sarah and her mom, Kathryn