Did you ever have one of those fill-in-the-blank “This is Me!” books back in the day?
Each section was organized by grade, with space to draw your best picture, write down the names of your friends and your teacher, and your favorite school subject and after-school activities. And at the end of each grade’s section, you also got to circle your future occupation.
On the left, with pictures as well, it listed boys’ jobs: fireman, doctor, mailman and lawyer.
On the right, it listed girls’ jobs: nurse, teacher, homemaker and librarian.
[I kid you not – and this was in the mid-80’s. Granted, the book looked like it had originated in 1965, passed through the portals of garage sales and thrift stores unscathed, without another child’s answers, though still, it landed on my childhood bookshelf.]
In the first grade, I circled nurse – I was absolutely going to don the all-white, short-sleeved dress of a uniform, and, like the woman in the picture, help other people. In the second grade, Mrs. Snyder was the bee’s knees, so I’d moved over to the next option of job occupations: teacher. But in the third grade, I had a teacher who loved mathematics, who kept insisting that science was for everyone. So when career day came along, I wore my favorite yellow and white striped sweatsuit [and whatever happened to the glorious matching sweatpants and sweatshirts of the 80’s, anyways?], and then my mom, in typical DIY-fashion, transformed a piece of foam that had been lying plush on my bed into a helmet. With my sick red and blue moon boots, I was a bonafide astronaut, following in the footsteps of the Space Shuttle Challenger crew.
If only I could add “…and then I went to space camp the summer of ’88, and it changed my aeronautical life forever!”
But what was I supposed to circle in my book? “Astronaut” wasn’t one of the options listed. So I crossed out the other four options – nurse, teacher, homemaker and librarian – and wrote in newfound cursive, astronaut.
Today is International Women’s Day, so I too celebrate the choice I was given to write my own destiny, even at nine years of age. (And no, I didn’t “grow up” and become an astronaut, in case you were wondering).
I celebrate my education and the opportunities given in the work place, as a teacher and as a leader in ministry.
I celebrate the choice I have now to be with my son, and to follow my heart, and pursue my dreams of writing and speaking.
I celebrate the inclusivity of Jesus, and the Reality made flesh toward everyone, regardless of gender – even if the Church, in my opinion, doesn’t have it right yet.
And I realize that the fight’s not over yet, and that internationally – and here in the states – too many young girls and grown women alike aren’t afforded the opportunity, educationally, socially and culturally, to choose.
Not all women have the choice yet, and until they do, let’s keep speaking out and pressing on for truth and equality.
(Want to check out a really cool organization in Nashville that’s helping women heal and choose a new life for themselves? All credit goes to my dear Mindy-friend for the stories she’s told about Magdalene and Thistle Farms, and the lives that are being healed there).
What other organizations do you know of that are helping to empower women today? Link up with the website’s address in the comments section!0