I grew up in a family of three girls, and my parents taught my sisters and me that we are capable of doing anything we put our minds to. It is a message that we all took to heart and have carried forward with us in our lives. My oldest sister is a scientist, touching lives through her research. My other sister is a social worker, helping those in need of help in many different ways. Myself, I enjoy the honor of using my words to share my faith journey with all of you, our readers.
Over the years, I have continually been blessed to witness the strength of the women who surround me both in my daily life and in my faith life. My mother, Mother Mary, my sisters, and the religious sisters who taught me in high school and college—all of them have provided me with strong examples of what it means to truly live a life honoring both myself and others.
At times, I feel discouraged by what seems to be the male-dominated infrastructure of our Church. Especially when a recent Pew Survey, “The Gender Gap in Religion Around the World,” showed that in the United States, women of all religions are more likely than men to say they pray daily (64 percent to 47 percent), attend religious services at least once a week (40 percent to 32 percent), and consider religion “very important” in their lives (60 percent to 47 percent).
I think about how strong Mary was to say yes, when most of us faced with her situation would have said no. I stand in awe of Saint Teresa of Calcutta and the way in which she stepped up to help those whom most others had dismissed.
And while it’s easy to look to the better known women of our faith, such as saints, as examples of courage and strength, I also stand in admiration of the women I encounter daily.
I have been privileged to witness the strength of women I know who are fighting cancer and other diseases, and the patience of those facing the struggles of raising kids, as well as those longing for kids. I learn from the example of women balancing the challenges of work—either at home or in an office. I watch these women live their lives and faith as a shining example for others—both through their words and their actions.
Perhaps it wasn’t until I lost my own mom that I became acutely aware of what a contribution and strong presence women make in our everyday lives. So often during the past four years, I have wanted to turn to my mom for direction, encouragement, and wisdom. Sure, others are there, but it’s not the same.
So how do we shine a light on how important strong women are in our lives and society? I’m sure that at some point in all of our lives, we have been blessed to have encountered a strong and fearless woman. It could be your mom. Perhaps it was a teacher or a coworker. Whoever that person was, wouldn’t it be nice to tell her that she made a difference in your life? Chances are, she may not even know that she made an impact.
Let her know. You can write a note, call her, or take her out to lunch. Just let her know how much she influenced you through her words or her example.
If doing so isn’t possible for some reason, honor that person by being an example for someone else. Let’s show some love to the strong women in our lives and the impact they have made.