By Amanda Cleary Eastep
Maybe it was your mother. Your wife. Your daughter, sister, grandmother, friend…even a historical figure.
But at some point in your life, a woman made a difference in it. A big I-would-not-be-who-I-am-today-without-her kind of difference.
Today is the last day of National Women’s History Month. (Nothing like jumping on the lesser-known holiday bandwagon at the last minute.)
Even Jesus had such a person in his life. Sweet little, unassuming Mary, his mother. She was with him from manger to cross, and I can only imagine her confusion, her joy, and her pain in the 33 years she tried to understand who he was and transitioned from loving him as her son to accepting him as her savior.
It wasn’t easy. That much I know. A mother is a mother. I know as she watched him die, her eternal spirit rejoiced at its salvation while her heart screamed ‘why’?
I often think about all of the women in my life who are some small but integral puzzle piece of me. They are as beautiful as they are imperfect; flawed as they are forgiven.
Of course, there are the women who may have really screwed you up and over, too.
The crappy mother. The vindictive wife. The sister who liked to jump out of hiding and scare the daylights out of her unsuspecting younger brother because she loved to hear him scream like a little girl and pummel her as she laughed maniacally…anyway…
But even with such relationships, we can take the bad and shove it like a jagged rock into our pocket and allow it to prod us when we become unkind, uncaring or apathetic.
Even the words that weren’t necessarily meant to inspire can become a motto.
“Walk as well as you can.”
These words were spoken to one of the most famous photographers in history, Dorothea Lange–maybe best known for her iconic photo Migrant Mother, which captures the horrors of the Great Depression in one woman’s portrait.
At the age of 7, Lange contracted polio, which left her with a misshapen foot and leg. She feared it would make her unmarriageable, so she did her best to cover it.
Her mother’s advice. “Walk as well as you can.”
Not only did Lange do that, but later in life, on a day in 1933, she marched herself down to the soup lines she could see from the window of her portrait studio. According to an inspiring film I watched recently, Lange sensed deeply the discrepancy between the work she was doing in her studio and what was happening on the street.
She determined to “grab a hunk of lightning.”
In a 24 hour time period, Lange went to the street and captured not only photos but stories of human beings that today bring me, separated by years and very different experiences, to weep.
Apparently, Lange was not the ideal mother or wife. But neither have I been.
I, too, walk as well as I can. But I also hope to walk as well as God empowers me to walk.
I can humbly accept all the best of what the women–and men–in my life have offered and honor them by living well.
I can take the mediocre and even the worst of what people in my life have thrown at me and rebel against it by surviving well.
And I can claim what every child of a King can claim–love, grace and redemption–and obey him by walking well.