Last weekend I had the privilege of meeting one of God’s virtuous women. Like most of the virtuous women in the bible, it would have been easy to overlook, dismiss or judge her. Women like Leah the weak-eyed sister and Ruth who brazenly offered herself to an older man, Tamar the trickster who slept with her father-in law, Rahab the provider of special services on the wall of Jericho and Mary the teenaged adulteress. Like them, this woman had a certain je-ne-sais-quoi that caused God to single her out and include her in His bloodline in spite of her history and circumstances.
What is it they had in common? I am yet to fully discover it, but I think it has something to do with their willingness to fight for what they believe in, an unshakeable faith, an unrelenting hope that the future is better than the past, a peace that surpasses understanding and an incredible strength that comes from their willingness to make themselves Vulnerable.
The V-word is often misunderstood in today’s society. It sounds either like someone who is weak and desperately needy at one extreme, or someone willing to use their womanhood to manipulate men at the other.
But real vulnerability is neither weak nor controlling. It is in fact fiercely strong and wonderfully empowering. It takes great strength to offer your beauty and love to a world that does not understand it, that may ridicule, despise or even reject it outright. And yet it is this very offer of feminine beauty and love that the world so desperately needs. If you don’t believe me, have a look at what men manage to accomplish when they try to do it without us.
I discovered something amazing about Leah, Rachel’s weak-eyed sister. Leah was the one who had to trick her husband into marrying her, had to bribe her sister with mandrakes for the opportunity to sleep with him – after he married her. She was the one he sent to meet his enemy in case he was angry while he kept Rachel safe with him at the back. But the story did not end there. While Rachel was buried somewhere in Bethlehem, at the end of his life Jacob finally honored Leah’s life-long ministry to him. ‘Bury me in the special burying place that our forefathers purchased.’ He said. ‘There they buried Abraham and his wife Sarah; there they buried Isaac and his wife Rebekah; and there I buried Leah.’
Don’t get me wrong I’d rather be a Rachel than a Leah any day of the week and twice on a Sunday, but it is a shame that the virtuous woman is often wrongly portrayed as the one who is softly spoken, quite pretty, with well-behaved children, who always dresses demurely and helps out at the cake stall. While all those things are good, the stories of Ruth, Leah, Tamar, Rahab, Mary, the brave woman I met at the weekend and countless others, show that being virtuous means being strong, daring, faithful, a fighter, a partner in a great adventure and a determination to break their earthen vessels of self-protection, so that the glory within can manifest.
These are women who understand that their greatest security lies in trusting God, even if that means they have to make themselves weak or despicable in others’ eyes. They understand that the Judge of the earth will do what is right by them. Not only does He protect them but He also gives them exceeding abundantly more than anything they had sacrificed. Break the earthen vessel. Dare to speak the truth about who you are, where you’re weak or hurting and what you dream of. It will not only release others, it will empower you to shine. It’s a kind of stooping to conquer. So, here goes. My name is Jenny Lee. I have been taken advantage of and I have been protected and cherished. I have been married and divorced. I have been prosperous and broke. I have been belittled and celebrated. I have been loved and hated. I have been sick and thank God I am now well. I have a dream to create a film that shakes the world to its very foundations and I will do it. I am a virtuous woman. What say you?