As I write this, I am propped up in a recliner with not one but two bum legs! Long story that some of you have followed, but suffice it to say some fragile bones, a fall and a serious fracture and two surgeries put me out of commission for a while. I am on a slow but steady pace to recovery. I have had so many who have rallied around me, loved on me, prayed for me, encouraged me, and cared for me. One thing I have heard often is, “Well if anyone can overcome this Nell can!” The confidence itself is an encouragement.
Can I tell you though that I have met so many women who have overcome so much more? Their resilience, their courage, their strength, their intuition, their faith, their love inspire me. Like my dear friend from Senegal who would literally not eat as she should so that she could feed her children and save enough money to send them to a good school. She knew that is what would give them a chance in life.
Another friend who suffered years of an abusive husband who stood up and walked away and said, “No more.” Raising four children on her own and sending them to good schools, she now rejoices as she watches them raise healthy loving families and pursue careers.
There is the international student who studied tirelessly for YEARS to pursue a Ph.D. with a desire to contribute to the world’s progress in science and technology. And how many mothers have I seen cross an ocean to come and be with their international student in the midst of loneliness and despair, not to mention the financial sacrifice made to give their student the opportunity to study?
I will never forget the young woman who had traveled on foot across several African countries to get to North Africa and hopefully find her way to Europe and a better life. She held her baby out to one of our team members saying, “Won’t you take her with you and give her a better life?”
The niece of a dear friend, 17 years old orphaned and alone in the Middle East after her father’s death, raises three younger siblings and works tirelessly to try and find a way to get them away from ISIS and to safety.
Another sweet sister gave up her own rights to help her family members find a way to safety. She forwent all relationships, jobs, and opportunities until her younger sister was settled, happily married with children, and in a stable economic situation. Only then did she permit herself to find contentment and happiness.
The young woman who is a victim of sex trafficking and is accused of not wanting to leave her life of sexual exploitation, while unbeknownst to the outsider is protecting her child whose father is her trafficker. With constant threats to hurt or take her child, she stays to protect this little one who is innocent and who is entrusted to her.
Story after story after story. Woman after woman after woman. Overcoming and overcoming again and again. These women are my heroes. These women inspire me. Women who go into politics to right wrong systems. Women who go into science to carve out a better, safer world. Women who teach our children or provide their health care. Women who are ministers and care for the spiritual wellbeing of those around them. Women who provide loving, nurturing homes for their children. One need not look far to be inspired.
Today is International Women’s Day. It is a day to celebrate women around the world. We celebrate their beauty, their talents and abilities, their diversity and uniqueness, indeed….their incalculable worth. Will you celebrate with me? Would you drop a comment about a woman who inspires you whether someone you know personally or someone you have heard of?