“He fills me with strength and protects me wherever I go.” Ps 18:32
Scripture is filled with passages about strength. Flip open any bible and you’re sure to come across a chapter or verse dealing with God’s gift of strength to us, the strength of those in the bible, and various other versions of it. The recent bestselling book “Lean In” offers women words of wisdom regarding work-place strength and if you’ve watched the news lately, you’ve seen a lot reported on and written about the rights of women and women of power. They say strength is a virtue, virtues are in the bible, so who then, do I consider “strong women?” Some, may surprise you.
She’s not in the bible, but Clarissa Ward is one such woman. You may not know her by name, but you’ve heard her reports. She’s the 5’10” blonde reporting for CBS News from all over the globe. She may look like a movie star but this Yale-educated smartie pants has covered conflicts many a male wouldn’t touch and speaks fluent Mandarin, Russian, and Arabic. Can you say impressive?
I’m also impressed with the strength of my friend Kelly who has been dealt several blows in the past few years. Still, her faith sustains her and her God protects her. I’ve also always considered Bernadette, the young French girl who Mary appeared to in Lourdes, France, as incredibly strong. Here was a young girl who knew what she saw and heard and stood by her story even in the face of both ridicule and punishment. Anyone who knows me also knows how much I revered Princess Di, a woman of grace and style who longed for nothing but love and who single-handedly changed the way Britain’s royal family does business. Now that’s a strong woman!
Many consider Hillary Clinton the perfect example of a strong woman. Not me. In my opinion, she is a woman who married her way to power, stuck by a man who repeatedly cheated on her and humiliated her in a most public manner, has forever sidestepped scandal after scandal, and who just never really seems satisfied. I will, however, give her props for the job she and Bill did raising Chelsea, who by all accounts seems to be a well-rounded and respectable woman. That just may be Hillary’s most important and impressive accomplishment, ranking way above Senator or Secretary of State.
On the flip-side, someone who many ridicule is a woman I do consider strong: Sarah Palin. Here’s a woman who negotiated with the Russians, didn’t marry her way to power and took on her party’s leadership head on, ran for vice-president, has raised a family that includes a special needs son, always looks put together, and can shoot her dinner then cook it. Now that’s what I call a feminist!
Lastly, I respect the many women in the military and those supporting them at home. My level of esteem for single moms could not be higher, and I applaud all good teachers and nurses. I also truly admire those who are simply trying to make this world a better place, starting with their families and communities in which they live.
The Power of Ruth
But, back to scripture. Our bible study recently read the Book of Ruth and my friend Catherine discovered some interesting bits of inspiration from Ruth that we can all relate to and draw encouragement from.
Ruth shows us where to turn and what to do when life hurts.
Ruth gives us permission to be bold when we need to be.
Ruth demonstrates the beauty of humility and hard work.
Ruth proves that a woman doesn’t have to be beautiful to get a man’s attention.
Ruth teaches us the value of speaking our minds and opening our hearts.
Ruth makes it clear that patience is a virtue worth cultivating.
Ruth gives us a glimpse of God and the hope He offers.
Amazing, right? All this coming from a woman of old, old school and yet still so timely today.
Women of Excellence
Finally, I’ll leave you today with tips of being a “woman of excellence” as discussed by Karla of the “Classy and Fabulous” blog. She was inspired to do so by a speech given by Joel Osteen and inspired me as I read it.
Being a woman of excellence is not the same as striving for perfection, but rather it’s a standard by which you run your life. You give your very best and you do your finest work. First of all, you must have the right mindset. Start your day with a positive thought and try your hardest to steer clear of complaining, whining, and general negativity. One small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.
A woman of excellence is also respectful and takes her work seriously, whether it’s running a large corporation or running her household. She is a woman who honors her commitments, is responsible, reliable and trustworthy. She also enjoys being of service to others and looks for opportunities to make life less about herself and more about those around her. Most importantly, she does these things even when no one is watching, which is perhaps the biggest character-revealing action of all.
Still, she cares about her appearance and makes the effort to present herself respectfully and well-groomed. Lastly, she allows faith to play an important role in her life, knowing that the ultimate judge sees her every move.
How can we all do a better job of being women of excellence and strive to be more like Ruth and less ruthless? Ask yourself what you are most proud of as a day ends. What did you work really hard on and put extra effort into? Could you have been kinder? Could you have been more tolerant or patient? If you were faced with challenges, did you handle them calmly or could you have done something different? Don’t beat yourself up, but evaluate and reflect.
None of us are perfect, but that shouldn’t be our goal anyway. Our goal today and every day should be simply to try our best and do the right thing. If you stick to those two things, everything else will most likely fall into place or fall away. Either one is what’s meant to be.
I’m interested in knowing who you consider a strong woman. Please share!