I have begun participating in the Catholic Exchange Women’s Bible Study being presented by Cheryl Dickow. (There is still time to join! – visit http://bezalelbooks.com/women's%20bible%20study.htm by January 12th). The question for the first week is “What is a Woman’s Worth?” I know this is a question I have struggled with for years. Dickow states that “Scripture assures every woman who has ever lived that her life is both special and valuable. Her life has a purpose and a meaning set by God and necessary to His plan for humankind.” She emphasizes that we need to study Scripture and look to God and His Word to discover our purpose and our true worth. I agree whole-heartedly.
Yet, in living in this very imperfect world, it does not always seem so simple. God’s purpose for my life has not always been very clear. Like many other women, I have prayed and cried and searched for direction. I have begged for a sign. I have tried to follow God’s lead and yet have met with resistance and obstacles. Were these signs that I was on the wrong road or signs that I needed to persevere? Sometimes God’s will seems shrouded in mystery, or as Heidi Hess Saxton once wrote, sometimes God is simply telling us to exercise our free will and choose. God will work with whichever path we pick. Yes, it can all be very confusing.
The question of worth is at the core of who we are and how we define ourselves. Raised as a modern woman, having been to a women’s college, and having a job I loved, I tended to define myself in terms of my ability and my place in the world. Yes, I was also a wife and a daughter and a sister but if someone posed the question, “Who are you?” that wouldn’t have been the start of my answer.
All that changed after I had my first child. My main function in life was no longer my career; it was my role as a mother. It was a change in identity that I was not prepared for. I knew what I was doing mattered. I wanted to raise my child to the best of my abilities and I knew that I wouldn’t get a second chance at that and that my career had to come a very distant second. I knew I was doing the right thing for my family, and yet my sense of worth was very seriously diminished. I know now that it shouldn’t have been. In the intervening six years, I have come to appreciate motherhood so much and what it has brought to my life. I would not trade my time with my children for anything.
Yet, there are still days I base my worth on the world’s standards instead of God’s. There are days I feel like a total failure. I look at other women who seem to be both wonderful mothers and very successful in their professional lives. I wonder why that can’t be me? I wonder why God’s plan seems to have taken me down the particular path I am on. I wonder why I still dream of doing things that I simply can’t do while continuing to provide my children the care and time that they need. I wonder what my future holds.
Yes, I am an imperfect person living in an imperfect world, trying to rely on God and make sense of it all as I go along. My worth, as does the worth of every human being, comes from God, not from any thing or any person on this earth. Sometimes, I forget. I am thankful to the Women’s Bible Study for providing a much-needed reminder and I look forward to the rest of the program for the other lessons it may hold.