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Women are amazing. At least I have never come to know one who isn’t worthy of numerous superlative adjectives. Of course I don’t know everyone, and my circle isn’t a particularly large one these days. Nevertheless, I think I have met enough women of various backgrounds to justify my claim.

The thing I find interesting is that few of them see themselves as amazing. They simply quietly go about doing what needs to be done in their circumstances. Sometimes that is fairly easy, but other times it displays great bravery.

Because they seldom call attention to their extraordinary accomplishments, it isn’t always apparent to the rest of us. Far too often, our human tendency to apply labels to others doesn’t help us see beyond the categories we have assigned. Those labels may emphasize our differences rather than our commonalities. When we make the effort to learn the story of another woman, our own lives are enriched. Here are two of the stories I have learned.

A woman about my age always seemed quite nice without much to make her different from other women. Then one day she told me how she had found the courage to leave a horrible marriage situation, taking her young children and driving to another state where she knew no one. They lived out of a car for some time, parking at night in church parking lots because she felt safest there. She raised her children to be fine, successful adults. She later married a good man. She would be the last person to think she had accomplished anything out of the ordinary.

While working at a voting location I met a woman who had just become a US citizen and was voting for the first time. She was so excited as she showed me her citizenship papers and asked how to go about casting her vote. I have since learned her story. She fled violent civil unrest in her country with her young son and daughter after her husband’s disappearance. She had to wait until her children were old enough to be silent when necessary. She then sewed jewelry and money into her clothing, dressed her daughter as a boy as a precaution, and set out. The person she hired to help her out of the country took her money but abandoned her when it became dangerous, so she was soon on her own. Eventually, she made it to a refugee camp where living conditions were still difficult. They lived as refugees for several years until obtaining visas to come to the United States. Through her hard work, she saved money to buy a house and send her children to college.

I personally have come to know women who work tirelessly for causes in which they believe, sometimes in the public eye but more often by quiet volunteer efforts. In doing so they help the homeless, victims of abuse or human trafficking, recovering addicts, people looking for a second chance, children who benefit from tutoring, people learning English, veterans, and neighborhood children who need a place to be after school. They cook treats for Ronald McDonald House residents, provide meals for the homebound, drive elderly neighbors to appointments, and teach community education classes. They are balancing caring for their children and their aging parents at the same time. Some are rearing children alone. Some are creating blended families. Many are pursuing education or training in order to serve in additional ways. Women apply their creativity and talents to make life more beautiful. The sacrifices they will make for others are awe-inspiring.

All of this is done in addition to maintaining their own homes, caring for their own families, and often working outside their homes as well. Sometimes they are also dealing with difficult, disappointing, or heart-breaking situations of their own. Our pandemic world has added another layer to be dealt with.

These women rarely receive public accolades, nor do they expect them. They are simply doing what women have always done – doing what needs to be done to make their lives or the lives of others better. Instead of judging a woman by attaching a label to her, invite her to tell you her story. After all, women are amazing.

Photo credit – Luis Machado, Unsplash