Ellie’s a girl. I don’t mean to state the obvious, but it’s something that I’ve ruminated on since the day she was born. Girls have all kinds of things to contend with as soon as they become old enough to talk, that, to do it alone would be impossible. Of course we will teach her that her strength comes from the Lord, but what I pray for her is to be surrounded with women of God; peers and matriarchal figures alike to encircle her with the type of supportive community one needs when one is, well, a girl. When I had a problem, a burning question, was angry or in over my head, I would sit on my Mom’s bed and she would wait for me to gather all of the thoughts in my head before I spewed them out. I hope that Ellie will always come to me when she needs someone, but I also know that I cannot possibly fill all the roles necessary for her to lead a full and healthy life.
I’ve been blessed throughout my life to have had what I pray for my daughter to experience. My youth pastor when I was in high school became a second mother to me. I spent countless Friday nights on her couch, eating Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream, painfully muddling through the trials and tribulations that accompany adolescence. She always made me feel like I was home, that I was not alone and pointed me back to Jesus-even if He was the last person I wanted to talk to.
There is a group of women I met in college with whom I still remain in close contact with. Though we may not call one another every week, their presence is clear and felt in my everyday. Some of my favorite memories and funniest stories were birthed out of this group of girls. I know that if one of us ever needed anything, there would be no hesitation in flying/driving/swimming/walking to one other. I know that because we’ve done it. We’ve gone from celebrating homecoming and boyfriends and passing Music Theory, to marriages, graduate schools, big career moves and now, children. They continue to define the importance and the joy of female community for me.
Several years ago, I was invited to a Women’s Bible study that took place on Tuesday nights. I was hesitant to attend considering I felt over worked, over booked, and frankly, not really in the mood to chat politely with women I didn’t really know about spiritual matters when all I really wanted to do was sit in my pj’s and watch T.V. One week when I had off from work, I attended. And continued going for several years. It was around Patty’s table I learned how to lean on other women. How to be honest. And how to lift up each other in prayer, in words of encouragement, and with lots and lots of pasta and brownies.
Some of us from the now, retired, Tuesday night group were able to get together for lunch yesterday and it was a joy to watch them pass my daughter around the table. Women whom I love, who have loved me, prayed for me and with me. Who have fed me, encouraged me, reigned me in and even, gently corrected me when I was wrong. As I watched Ellie’s face as it was kissed, smiled into and snuggled, I remembered all of the women who have played vital roles in my life. On Mom’s bed, Jane’s couch, in Simpson Hall, around Patty’s table. It’s the joy of my heart to be able to model for my daughter the type of community I’ve been blessed to be a part of.