I was born the only girl in a family of 5 children. My first memory of being a woman, different from man, was in Kindergarten. I sat across from a boy who intrigued me. He played with toys I’d never seen before and spoke a different language. In my mind he seemed stronger than me and more adventurous. Like most little girls who grow up, this comparison, over time, becomes even more evident and confusing. When I read books on courageous women like Wilma Rudolph, I took notice of the instinctive courage of women. In 1960, Wilma Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field at a single Olympics. I dreamed of being courageous and strong like Wilma.
Born on June 23, 1940, in St. Bethlehem, Tennessee, Wilma Rudolph was a sickly child who had to wear a brace on her left leg. She overcame her disabilities to compete in the 1956 Summer Olympic Games, and in 1960, she became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field at a single Olympics. Later in life, she formed the Wilma Rudolph Foundation to promote amateur athletics. The Olympic great died on November 12, 1994, following a battle with brain cancer.
You and I could list all the women since the beginning of time who have overcome the odds and made the difference. Queen Esther, Mary the mother of Jesus, the woman who washed the feet of Jesus with her hair and tears, Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mother Teresa, Malala Yousafzai, Ruby Bridges, Corrie ten Boom….. When you read the New Testament, you will discover how tender and loving Jesus was to women. He not only came to offer salvation to all, but, it seems to me, He came to set the record straight on why God made women.
There is a Hebrew term used in the creation of woman, “ezer” and is used 21 times. The word “kenegdo” in the creation of woman is used once.
The Hebrew words used here to describe woman as a helper are ‘ezer kenegdo. The word ‘ezer means “helper” and is never used in the Old Testament to refer to an inferior or to a subordinate. In fact, the word is used in reference to God as our helper (Psalm 10:14; 30:10; 54:4; 70:5; 72:12; 121:2). Kenegdo is a Hebrew preposition and adverb meaning “corresponding to” or “face to face,” so it is best understood as meaning that Eve was a fitting partner for Adam, for she was like him. Eve was created as an equal to Adam. She was given equal authority and dominion over the earth (Gen. 1:28).
Ezer translates as helper, or succor. Kenegdo translates as face to face.
What does that mean to me as a single woman or a married woman?
As I’ve walked womanhood for over 50 years, I’ve discovered the succor in the souls of my sisters. Women are warriors who “assist in times of trouble and distress” (succor). Despite our pain and struggles, we look outside ourselves and nurture the world. We notice the little things and provide a hand or a hug. We recognize injustice and rally around a cause. We go to bed weeping for the souls of all children, and we pray for a change. We ask ourselves honest questions, and we step into battle knowing that God will fight the battle for us. We give up and let go even when our hearts are aching to hold on. Women have stood their ground despite the test of stereotyping, biases, and dismissal. We are the first one on the scene, just like Mary at the tomb of Jesus. We show up, provide, do, and face the judgment of our imperfect actions with courage and grace. Every day we fight the battle of the media god who depicts us as flawless beauties or nagging wives who over-do motherhood–control freaks. Women, created by God to stand face to face with man, fights for this position despite exhaustion. We may retreat for rest, but we never give up.
God has placed within woman the same ezer that comes from Him to help His beloved. We could never love as perfectly as God, but we are the hands and feet of the One who loves perfectly.
My sister, know that you are allowed to rest. Close your eyes and imagine your childhood. God’s woman looks to her future with laughter and joy, but she also is the same little girl who needs to be nurtured and loved. We pour out, so we must fill up. No matter your age, position, role, color of skin, or background, women must unite and recognize our position of worthiness.
Fill up by acknowledging your position as woman–a God created being of strength and love. Go to Him and talk about your womanhood, and what lies you’ve believed, which have caused you to think less of yourself. Examine your history and believe that you are face to face, not behind or above. Women of all ages please have compassion on your sisters, knowing that our battles are different, but we are linked together by our Creator. No comparison, jealousy, or falling prey to the media god. Step up and out, holding the hand of God while encouraging your sister.
As a mom, I look back and would love to rewrite a few lines of my messy, God story. As a grandmother, I am hopeful for my granddaughter’s future. Looking back…..Moving forward……Creating the tapestry, and noticing the threads…
Sara Bareilles wrote a song “She Used to be Mine”. In my simplicity, I thought the song painted an honest look at how I felt inside. My longing to understand my childhood as “woman”, and my understanding of who I am right now as mother, wife, daughter, and sister. It’s messy. God loves a mess. I don’t think this side of heaven the mess will disappear, but He promises to keep polishing us from glory to glory. He sees the broken and spends every moment alluring her into the wilderness, so He can speak tenderly to her. (Hosea 2:14)
This video has the song by Sara Bareilles, “She Used to be Mine” Creating the video was a creative, healing space for me.
My sister–You are stronger than you know. God is with you.