Lifting women up

Today’s contributor explores how a spiritual view of identity can restore the dignity of womanhood and uplift men and women alike.

I live in Mumbai, India, and have spent a lot of time thinking through issues surrounding women and the circumstances that keep them in impoverished conditions. In many cultures, including my own, progress is being made, but, even so, many women are still subject to limitation and treated like objects or doormats to be stepped on. At times it seems like an impossible situation.

Yet some years ago, when I began to read the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, especially “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” I found hope. Since then there has been a major change in my own life and in my ability to help other women. The dignity of womanhood needs to be restored to women, and I’ve come to understand that this needs to be done through spiritual means that uplift both men and women.

In the first chapter of the book of Genesis in the Holy Bible, our origin as God’s children is explained. It says there that we all are created in God’s own image and likeness, male and female. From this, one can gather that God’s creation – male and female – is meant to express itself as God’s spiritual reflection, not be suppressed. This statement certainly speaks of equality, completeness, wholeness, with men and women having equal rights and privileges.

Representing the womanhood of God is not a punishment. Good is not something that belongs to some but not to others. God, in Her love and wisdom, recognizes and embraces all of God’s beloved children equally and universally.

Mary Baker Eddy is my role model because her life experience elevated every aspect of womanhood. As she grew in her understanding of her (and everyone’s) relation to God, our Father-Mother, divine and universal Love, her expression of that Love resulted in health and healing.

Centuries of discrimination in various parts of the world are breaking and will continue to do so. But prayer-inspired efforts to uplift women are still needed. However, I know from my work with different organizations that the consecrated prayer and dedicated efforts of many people are bringing much-needed steps of improvement in this regard.

For instance, an article in today’s Monitor Daily points to a decline in cultural stigmas and legal barriers to women in the workforce in Jordan. It is important to note, as the article does, that logistical challenges and other inequities remain for female workers; but there are also signs of positive change, of women overcoming obstacles. Each such instance, however small it may seem in the overall scheme of things, makes a difference because it has the effect of bringing out the spiritual fact of equality in our day-to-day experience.

I used to run a job placement service in Mumbai. When I met female job seekers, most of whom thought of themselves as inferior to men, I’d share ideas with them about their true, spiritual identity – about the need to value the qualities they included as God’s children and to accept their inherent ability to express those qualities. In these discussions there was always a positive response.

I also think of the experience of a friend’s mother, a senior citizen, who felt that as a woman she had nothing to offer the world. She was roused from this kind of thinking with the Bible verse “I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten” (Joel 2:25). This promise enabled her to feel the love of the ever-present God, good. She realized that as God’s spiritual offspring she was as loved, cared for, and valued as anyone else. She began to take an interest in things around her and to express the Life that is God, good.

Soon she was able to unite with her son who was living in the United States. Before she left India to join him, she was able to take on what many Indians would consider a man’s role: selling property and hiring vendors to do work for her. She saw her completeness as God’s precious daughter and rejoiced in this new understanding.

The work of restoration and redemption begins in each individual consciousness as we let our hearts overflow with love and compassion – not just for women but for men, too. Let’s acknowledge everyone’s completeness and rejoice in the irreversible spiritual fact that we are all children of God, lacking nothing, free of any defect. Or, as Science and Health puts it, “Citizens of the world, accept the ‘glorious liberty of the children of God,’ and be free! This is your divine right” (p. 227).

Adapted from a July 13, 2006, article now located on JSH-Online.com.

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