Growing up, I was searching for a heroine. I had no wish to be a princess needing rescue- I was the explorer, the animal-rescuer!
As I grew older I searched for examples of what I wanted to be.
Jesus was who I wanted to be like the most. He was perfect, wasn’t he? Then Jonathan, Moses, Ezekiel, Amos, Daniel, Hezekiah… all my heroes were men. And I was out of the club.
Deborah, Jael, and Priscilla were my favourite female Bible characters, but there wasn’t much written about them.
I looked at the women in my church. I didn’t want to be like any of them. There were strong women, and women that I still admire very much. But either their personalities were so different from my own or their lives were.
Many of them seemed to feel ashamed of their strength and abilities. I heard more self-put downs than healthy esteem. I wonder if many of them were more afraid of their strengths than their weaknesses?
I wanted an example I could relate to.
The first job I took after having my baby was as a nanny. The man was a social worker, the woman was a lawyer. They both loved their kids and did what they could to take care of them. They shared childcare and cooking. She was proud of his musical and artistic skills, he appreciated her enormous command of languages and mathematics.
It was refreshing to see a different pattern. I was told in church that a woman could have a career or a family. Only men could have both.
Then, I rediscovered children’s fiction. There are so many remarkable heroines. That is probably the reason many women watch soaps- they are desperate for a strong female character.
Deborah Ellis has become one of my favourite authors and I will recommend her books to my daughters ahead of any book from the Bible.
So, I have many many examples and people to look up to. I just needed to break the hold that the Bible had on me before I could see them.