I am a Woman of Valor
I am a woman of valor. Too many years I spent shackled by fear and shame, telling myself and others that I was no good, that I was unworthy of love; but somewhere in the deepest recesses of my spirit was a flicker of something that knew differently. Emboldened by that flicker of hope, I fought and clawed against the chains that choked and bound me until I could see that they were nothing but shadows, shadows that held no true power over me. I found the courage to say “No!” to the shadows. I fought, and I won.
I am a woman of valor. I was terrorized as a child – beaten by my father’s belt and bludgeoned by scriptures that were twisted into weapons against my tiny spirit. I survived the abuse by repeating the words: words that said that I was deceitful and desperately wicked, words that condemned my childish mistakes as rebellion, which was as evil as witchcraft, words that justified the stripes on my back. But even while obediently parroting these damning phrases yanked out of context, I searched the holy book until I found evidence of another side to God. I dug and dug and found a Messiah who wept for my pain. I fought the lies with truth. I fought, and I won.
I am a woman of valor. As a young adult, I discovered that I could no longer trust my brain to communicate reality to me. Though spinning wildly out of control, I reached out for help, and made the bravest phone call of my life: I asked a neighbor to drive me to the local mental hospital. When my stay there helped me cope with the crisis but failed to yield long-term solutions, I kept up my search for answers, visiting doctor after doctor until I found a diagnosis and, with that diagnosis, treatment. I stood up to my mental illness. I waged open war on the hallucinations that plagued me. I fought, and at last I began to win more battles than I lost.
I am a woman of valor. Despite my long-held belief that childbearing was never going to be a part of my story, I am great with child, eager to meet my daughter whose arrival is short weeks away. Just as the midwife warned me might happen, as I approach labor I find myself revisiting the ancient traumas of my life. Fear and Shame have resurrected themselves in my consciousness, but this time around, I recognize them. I know that they are lies. While I weep for the childhood – and the years of adulthood – I lost, I promise my little girl that her life will be far different. And I continue to fight. I am winning.
The author, who wishes to remain anonymous, is mom-to-be living in Austin, TX. She is married to her best friend, and finds joy in making things with her hands, whether it's a knitted scarf, a salvaged-wood table, or a from-scratch meal.
This post is part of our Women of Valor series. Eshet chayil—woman of valor— has long been a blessing of praise in the Jewish community. Husbands often sing the line from Proverbs 31 to their wives at Sabbath meals. Women cheer one another on through accomplishments in homemaking, career, education, parenting, and justice by shouting a hearty “eshet chayil!” after each milestone. Great women of the faith, like Sarah and Ruth and Deborah, are identified as women of valor. One of my goals after completing my year of biblical womanhood was to “take back” Proverbs 31 as a blessing, not a to-do list, by identifying and celebrating women of valor. To help me in this, you submitted nearly 100 essays to our Women of Valor essay contest. There were so many essays that made me laugh, cry, and think I’ve decided that, in addition to the eight winners to be featured this week, I will select several more to feature as guest posts in the weeks and months to come.
The winners of the Women of Valor contest, will receive a flower necklace that is hand-made by the artisans of Hill Country Hill Tribers, a non-profit helping Burmese refugee women in Austin earn supplemental income and learn marketable skills. The necklaces and other new products in their fall line are available on their website now. I enourage you to read the stories of these women of valor in their Artisan Profiles and find out how you can become a Hill Triber Patron to support the artisans in their work.
Read the rest:
Mrs. Foster - A Woman of Valor by Jenn LeBow
Rebecca - A Woman of Valor by Cheryl Cash
Sarah - A Woman of Valor by Jenny Everett King
Sky - A Woman of Valor by Jonathan C.
Sofia - A Woman of Valor by Emily Allen
Mala - A Woman of Valor by Joy Bennett
Hulda Nite - A Woman of Valor by Liz Myrick
Dr. Chaney - A Woman of Valor by Hope Estes, Claire Nieman, and Heidi McElrath
I hope you will consider writing a tribute to a woman of valor on your own blog this week. If you do, leave a link in the comment section so we can all enjoy. I'll be sure to tweet/share some of my favorites. (Note: All the winners of the contest have been notified.)