With Mother’s Day approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot about faithful women — the struggles they face, the strengths they exhibit, and the amazing potential they have to truly make a difference in the world.
In Paul’s second epistle to Timothy, he mentions Timothy’s “unfeigned faith,” which dwelt first in his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois, two women who clearly took care to pass their faith down through the generations. (2 Tim 1:5)
Following this reminder of the influence of these women, Paul then writes this meaningful passage:
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim 1:7)
As we strive to recognize and remember our divine, extraordinary nature as daughters of God, I would submit that we too strive to become women of faith like Eunice and Lois, developing and displaying power, love, and sound minds.
First I’d like to talk about power. What does a woman with the spirit of power look like? She is a woman who does God’s will and trusts in His timing. She relies on Him, and trusts that He knows how to overcome any trial she may face.
Women face great trials. Single life, unhappy marriages, guilt for working outside the home, guilt for not working outside the home, terrifying surprise pregnancies, infertility, motherhood, cancer, body image issues, etc. Haven’t we all met women facing similar challenges, and so many more?
According to many researchers, women feel shame when they think that they are not perfect. That is, when a woman struggles with anything in her life, she feels that something must be wrong with her. What does God think of this misunderstanding? I’m sure His heart breaks to see us struggle with feelings of inadequacy.
The truth is that we are not perfect. No one is. But does a powerful woman let this discourage her, or let this make her feel bad about herself? No. A powerful woman recognizes that God is on her side in all her trials, and allows His will to become her own during hard times. She uses the power of the truth that she has been taught to have power over any efforts to discourage her.
Next, let’s talk about love. I think that women understand love very well. In fact, I often feel as though women understand love so well, and feel it so often, that we sometimes forget to deliberately express or show love as much as we should.
As women, expressing love is important for a reason: we need each other. We need acts of love to help us feel noticed, wanted, and appreciated. Certainly, the grander gestures — stopping by a friend’s home with a treat or babysitting her kids for a few hours — all have their place. But I would encourage each of us to think about the small things we can do to make others feel loved: the text messages, the quick compliments, the “thank yous”. Don’t think about what others could do for you; trust that your needs will be taken care of as you take care of others. Trust that you will feel love as you show it.
Developing the spirit of love within us will strengthen our bond as women. We will learn more about the divine capacity for love that God has given to women. We will feel of that love, God’s love, which will give us confidence and purpose.
A Sound Mind
Lastly, let’s focus on having a sound mind. To me, this means seeking truth – in our homes, in our churches, in the scriptures — anywhere we can find it. As the scriptures say, “The Glory of God is intelligence.”
How will having a sound mind help us recognize our divinity as women? Most important, I think, is that it will teach us that the doctrine of the divinity of women is real. It is there for us to find. The scriptures teach us of Eve, of Esther, of Mary, of the woman at the well (to name a few). We also have many examples of women in our own neighborhoods and families who know who they are and what their purpose is.
I believe that if we earnestly seek it, we will learn that the divinity of women is not something said only to make women feel good about themselves. It is not idly taught. We will learn that we are literally daughters of our Heavenly Father. We will learn that we play important roles in the world. We will learn that we are inherently equal to our husbands and to all men. We will learn that we are not women by accident – but by divine appointment. There is a doctrine of women. Using our “sound minds” to learn it will allow us to recognize its reality, and apply it to our lives.
There are many real fears that come with being a woman. We may fear inadequacy or loneliness. We may be afraid of not being able to pay our bills. We may be afraid to fully repent. We may be afraid about the health or well-being of our family members, or of ourselves. We may fear being ridiculed or unaccepted. We may be afraid to speak up. We may be afraid of not being able to become better. I know that sometimes I personally feel overwhelmed by how far I have to go; I worry about the things I have to do and the responsibilities I carry; I fear that I will not earn or deserve the approval of others, or of God.
We do not need to be afraid. God has not given us the spirit of fear. He has given us the spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. These gifts are readily available to us, if we will just work to develop and use them. As we do so, we will learn of our divinity as women. We will learn that we are not “just” mothers, wives, friends, sisters, or daughters. We are not “just” women. Whatever we are is what God has called us to be, because it is what He needs us to be. We can and will find purpose as women of God. We will discover that we are more capable than we ever thought possible. And we will have the impact we want to have, in our families, in our churches, and in the world.
To all women everywhere: thank you for your example, your love, and your light. I’m grateful to be a woman. We truly are extraordinary, and we can do extraordinary things.