It’s funny how these things come full circle in our lives. While working on the message about the need for women to find their identity in Christ, instead of in their relationships with others, I’ve been thinking a lot about the women I know who have embodied this, particularly the single missionary women I knew in Liberia. I’ll never forget seeing them zipping around ELWA on their mopeds, sundresses tucked around their legs, satchel hanging over their shoulder, grey braids flying out behind them. Heavens Angels!
Miss Pecht, in particular, kept coming to mind. Miss Pecht taught third grade at ELWA, and while she was a wonderful woman, I was always a little afraid of her. Miss Pecht was tough-the kind of tough that enables a woman to pick up stakes and move to Africa (in the 1960s, I believe, but it may have been earlier). Miss Pecht took no nonsense from anyone.
These strong, godly female role models are part of why I have such a hard time accepting some of American Christianity’s stereotypes about what womanhood should look like. Would anyone dare tell these fearless, groundbreaking female missionaries that they’re really not acting the way God created women to act? (Well, actually, I bet plenty of people told them that. They just refused to let it sway their decisions.) Pshaw. I’ll admit that occasionally, when I hear a certain famous, foul-mouthed preacher make wildly inappropriate remarks about women, I imagine him crammed into one of the tiny desks in Miss Pecht’s classroom, sweating under the African heat and the intensity of her glare. And I will tell you, friends, my money’s on Miss Pecht. No recess for him!
I was actually thinking of Miss Pecht so much this week that I typed her name into Google. And do you know what I found? Her obituary–Dorothy Pecht, 91, passed away one week ago, April 27, 2012.
Eschet chayil! Woman of valor!
So this post is in honor of Miss Pecht, and all the other strong, fearless female role models who have dared to break the mold for the sake of the gospel.
Let’s redefine femininity to fit THEM, shall we?
Fearless femininity is taking a job to support your family when your alcoholic father can’t.
Femininity is haranguing a university in the 1800s into letting you become a doctor, so you can do medical care for women in India.
Femininity is trekking through the jungles of Calabar, barefoot and in your underclothes, to save women from being executed as “witches.”
Femininity is staring down Liberian warlords and demanding peace.
Femininity is sitting under a palm tree, meting out justice and declaring the word of the Lord.
Femininity is hanging out on the streets and in the clubs, to become a safe person for women in the sex industry to turn to.
Femininity is loving the dying with a reckless, unbounded love.
To be feminine is to act like a woman, so there are as many ways to be feminine as there are women in the world. As long as those ways honor God, we should honor them.
Here’s to fearless femininity!