When I was 7, my mother dressed up as Wonder Woman for a costume party. A photo of her taken that night was taped to our family’s refrigerator for years. There she stood striking her best superhero pose in knee-high boots, hands placed confidently on star-studded shorts, with a gold band on her forehead and cuffs around her wrists. This image served as a reminder to me that, costume or not, I could face difficulties with dominion just as my mom did in her life.
Naturally, I was part of the opening-night crowd for the recent blockbuster film “Wonder Woman.” Finally, an action movie that successfully proves to audiences that a female superhero is perfectly able to conquer evil without relying on sheer muscle and violence.
I came away pondering the qualities women bring to the table in facing adversity in our world today. Modern “Goliaths” that loom large for women include equal pay and opportunity in the workplace, access to education, fairness in representation in seats of authority, and diseases deemed specific to women. History shows that women have largely been underrepresented in terms of their impact on the world and the major reforms they’ve brought to society. But all men and women have inherent strength and abilities.
The film brought to mind the phrase “woman goes forth to battle with Goliath,” which is a line from Mary Baker Eddy’s primary work, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” (p. 268), a book that has helped me surmount my own battles over the years. This idea is a present-day take on a Bible story in which a young man, David, volunteers to go up against an experienced warrior who was so menacingly large and well armed that no one else was willing to fight him (see I Samuel 17:1-50). But relying only on a slingshot and his deep trust in God, David was victorious over Goliath.
Mrs. Eddy, who discovered Christian Science and founded the Monitor, faced challenges throughout her lifetime, including widowhood, illness, poverty, and forced separation from her only child. Her “weapon” of choice in taking on such challenges? Not a slingshot, but prayer based on a deep commitment to the inspired teachings in the Bible, especially Christ Jesus’ command that his followers could be healers. Through her understanding of our true identity as the spiritual creation of God, who cares for and empowers each of us, she succeeded in establishing a religion with a record of Christian healing that continues to this day.
The idea that we are all spiritually whole and capable, and that gender is therefore not the determining factor in the good we can accomplish, has been a key factor for me in my career. It was an inspiration to me during a meeting that I and three other women affiliated with my church had with a senator to discuss legislative issues. The senator expressed amazement that he was meeting with an all-female church delegation for the first time in his political tenure, and appreciated the qualities of spiritual preparedness and leadership that he felt we expressed.
Of course, it is important that women should be seen to have an equal place at the table. But in the end I knew it was about more than just gender, as meaningful as it was that the four of us were there together. It was clearly about the ideas we each brought to the discussion, and the vital qualities that both women and men are capable of expressing, such as humility, charity, respect, openness of mind, and being a team player. These qualities impact the greater good when we bring them to our discussions around boardroom tables, at community meetings, and, of course, to the way we conduct our personal lives.
When we identify with the abundant spiritual qualities women express and inherently possess, rather than with the limited labels society has assigned, we have the freedom to be what God made us to be. And perhaps, for each of us, that might look like our own version of Wonder Woman.
This is an adaptation of an article that ran in the June 30 issue of The Huffington Post.