I did not follow the script that was meant for women my age, mainly because I have never thought that we all must look and act the same. The expectations of others for the roles we are supposed to play limit us, even as failing to meet the expectations of others tend to liberate us enough to see the limitless possibilities for our lives. I became viewed as a rebel, without really meaning to rebel, because I wanted do more than what people told me I could do and what people said that I was capable of doing.
I was the last person anyone would have thought would act against societal rules, for I tended to live in the background, a loner who lived a near reclusive life. I never stood out, never tried making myself known to the masses. Instead, I tried to crawl inside myself or into my books to escape from a world where I was constantly viewed as an outsider, the weird one. It is interesting that while people deem others, usually the quiet ones, as weird, they feel no compunctions about causing them immeasurable pain, as if they believe that the quiet, weird ones just maybe don’t actually feel pain like the rest of humanity
But, I am a living witness that the quiet ones may feel pain to a greater degree than others, for they are the ones constantly confronted by the ugliness of human nature, and so they learn, more so than some of the others, what pain looks like, smells like, feels like, taste like, and sounds like. It was while trying to escape from other human beings in my believed books that I learned that sometimes you have to be non-conforming in order to find your true purpose and joy in life.
I cannot begin to tell you how often I have had my sanity questioned by people who just could not understand why I insisted on living my life contrary to their ways of thinking. But, I have never intentionally tried to be ornery and arrogant, never insisting that I had the only answers. I simply wanted my life to be lived to the fullest, with as few regrets as possible. Yes, there have been times of great uncertainty, and in those moments, I have prayed and asked God to show me His plans for my life.
Three scriptures have been used to remind me that ultimately I am not in control of my life, but God is and that He knows what’s best for me. So, when I have been fearful and others have made me question if my choices were indeed wrong or sinful, I have relied on these scriptures to center my thinking.
The first scripture verses have been Joshua 1:7-9: Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right ot to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command–be strong and courageous Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
The second scripture verses have been Jeremiah 29:11-13: For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
The third scripture verses have been Matthew 6:31-34: So don’t worry about these things, saying, “What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?” These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
It was in reading the Scriptures that I learned of Huldah, a prophetess who spoke for the Lord in 2 Kings 22:14-30 and 2 Chronicles 34:22-28. When I saw her story in the Bible, I knew that I as a woman could accept the call to preach and still be in God’s will, and that I was not deviating from God’s words, as people insisted on telling me. To stand in the pulpit and hear the Holy Spirit giving God’s message to His people through me humbles me even to today.
The belief that God would provide everything we needed if I followed the calling to teach college led me to accept early retirement at age 46 and go to college full-time to earn a PhD. For 17 years, I had such joy meeting and touching the lives of people who still send me emails regarding their lives, including one student who has invited me to her wedding in August, telling me that I had to be there because I had made a great impact on her life. What more can we ask of life than that we touch lives positively?
And when I saw that the man who wanted to get to know me was a white guy, I was tempted to not answer the request, afraid that a black woman raised in the American South would not find love or peace in a marriage with a white man. So I prayed and felt God saying it everything would be fine. Because God through Jesus Christ my Lord is the light that guides me, I had nothing to be afraid of in answering. I don’t even want to think what my life would be without Douglas in it.
Yes, being considered a rebel has been great fun! When I think of the wonderful life experiences and the wondrous people that I have met in my life travels, I am so thankful to God for the plans He had for my life, plans that took me from poverty to Portugal, from expedient to excellence, and from loneliness to love. I have lived a life very different from the one that many people thought I should have lived, and it has been a ball!
Yes, there have been troubles and trials, but Jesus was with me all the way. The God I serve has been amazing and wonderful in caring for me and mine. When you look at the woman in the picture above laying on the beach in Portugal, loving life to the fullest, remember that people told me that I would never amount to anything and that I would never find a husband. Don’t worry if people think that you are weird or different, just be assured that with God all things are possible, and remember that sometimes you have to rebel to get to the Promised Land.