A couple weeks ago, I was flipping channels and came across an old movie, Pancho Barnes, starring Valerie Bertinelli as the title character. Pancho was a bored wife and mother who found her passion in flying airplanes. She wanted to do something only men and Amelia Earhart did at the time.
But she had to defy convention and her husband to do it. He was holding her back. She wanted to soar. They couldn’t have it both ways.
Last week, my husband Paul and I went to visit an Amish store in a nearby community. We asked the woman at the counter if she would do some work on a quilt I’ve been restoring for one of my granddaughters. Anna asked me some questions and agreed on a date and price to have the work done.
Then Paul and I went outside to buy chrysanthemums for our front porch stairway. Anna followed us across the driveway from the store to the farm stand to advise us about prices and complete our transaction.
As we were driving away from the farm, we spied a horse trotting down the road tugging a buggy. Inside were two young women; one was driving the buggy. I remarked to Paul that the Amish community must be one of the most misunderstood people groups of our time. Most people probably imagine Amish women to be subjugated and powerless.
The reality is that Amish women drive buggies. They run businesses.
Sure, they don’t own cars, computers, or smart phones. Anna won’t be spending her hard earned money on fashion or home improvement magazines. She lives the way most women have lived throughout history. She lives simply. Her joy shines through her smile.
She isn’t worried about her own empowerment. She has no sense of being powerless or oppressed because she isn’t competing against others. She is serving them. She provides services and goods–quilting, pies, jams, and flowers–things that make our lives feel, taste, and look better. Anna makes others’ lives more beautiful.
In his new book Seven Women and the Secret of Their Greatness, Eric Metaxas presents seven biographies of women who were great “for reasons that derive precisely from their being women, not in spite of it; and what made them great has nothing to do with their being measured against or competing with men.”
Metaxas says, the modern feminist movement has been a “zero sum game. If one won, the other lost. In this view of the relationship between the sexes, there can be no equity, no mutual admiration, no mutual encouragement, and of course, no real love.”
The question boils down to this: Will we live a win/lose life, working against those we perceive as our competition, or will we live a life of service, working on behalf of others as well as ourselves? A life like the one Anna leads.
Seek out Metaxas’s Seven Women to find the stories of amazing heroines. They were women in battles against evil, not for the sake of their own power, but for the sake of simple goodness. Be encouraged by these stories of faith. These women soared, but they did not fly alone. They helped others fly too.
So don’t ask someone else to sit while you soar. In serving each other, we can all climb.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the entities I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”