By Lori Belihar Boyd
“Male and female, He created them” (Genesis 1:27)
If there is a subject that impassions me, one that gets my heart racing and tightens up my chest just a bit, one that fills me with joy but also rallies my defenses, it would be “the worth of a woman.” I attribute this conviction partly to the fact that I have two sisters, a mother who can do anything, and a father who is both a retired military general and a practicing physician (who never let the reality of having three daughters keep him from treating us any differently had we been three sons); but even more, I feel strongly about this subject because I know that God loves and values women. He has since the beginning of time, and He still does today.
I have happy memories of a childhood spent flying across this beautiful country under Air Force wing. Through the disquiet of transition, our parents made it priority to instill in each of us a strong sense of who we are and whose we are. They reared three confident women who whole-heartedly love God and who are fiercely devoted to family. I have looked back over the years and often wondered, “How in the world did they do that?”
I’ve made mental notes of the activities we did, the places we saw, and the people we met. I even sat down and made a list of the most important lessons we were taught, and when I did, I found that I could group those lessons under the three essential concepts found in Matthew 22:36-40: Love God, love others, and love yourself.
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
However, in a society that believes we no longer need God, an education system that promotes secular humanism, the push of radical feminists to erase all gender distinctions, and the continual moral decline of our country…how do I teach my daughters those concepts today so that they will cherish their womanhood and recognize their worth?
- Love God. We teach our daughters to love God when we make Him the center of our family. God comes first…always.
Mom is a master story teller and made the men and women of the Bible come to life as she told me and my sisters about their amazing experiences. Dad shared pictures and stories of his mission work in Africa, and I could feel his excitement when he described preaching a sermon in Swahili. I watched Mom prepare for teaching Bible classes over and over, and the times we’ve held hands while Dad led our family in prayer are innumerable.
We attended worship services, Bible classes, devotionals, gospel meetings, Vacation Bible School, youth events, and potlucks; but we also sang worship songs in the car, talked about the Bible at home, and heard our parents sharing the Gospel with others. Loving God was not just an occasional demonstration of faith, it was a way of living day to day that defined who we were as a Christian family.
- Love Others. We teach our daughters to love others when we look for opportunities to serve and help people in need.
Dad’s travels to Africa during the time that he was studying Tropical Medicine always began with a ritual “gathering.” My sisters and I would go through our clothes and toys and gather items for Dad to take to the children in the villages where he stayed. I loved this ritual, because Dad would come home and tell us about how much the children enjoyed the gifts. I remember sending a frisbee with Dad one year and when he came back he told me how the frisbee had been used as a toy, a drum, and a bowl for water! I was so proud!
Mom is also a master chef and I will never forget the many, many times she welcomed people into our home to share a meal with us. She made food for church functions, for someone who was sick, or for her co-workers at the hospital as a midnight treat. She is the epitome of Southern hospitality and loves to open her door to others. One of my favorite memories as a child is the smell and feel of our home just before guests came over. Loving others was not just an occasional gesture; it was a way of living that defined who we were as a Christian family.
- Love Yourself. We teach our daughters to love themselves when we show them that they are valued by their parents and their Creator.
“You can do anything!” “I love you.” “Have I hugged you yet today?” “I’m so proud of you.” “When I see you cry it breaks my heart.” “You’re a Belihar, and Belihars never quit!” I could go on and on and on listing simple words and repeated phrases that constantly reaffirmed our parents love and support. Through that continual encouragement, Mom and Dad taught us that we were special, just as God had made us to be.
They celebrated our victories, provided help when we needed it, cheered us on with every endeavor, motivated us to try new things, and they never made us feel we couldn’t do something because we were women, but rather inspired us to live to our full potential as women of God and always in harmony with His Word. Loving ourselves was not just an occasional feeling; it was a way of living that defined who we were as a Christian family.
When we teach our daughters to love God, love others, and love themselves, we help them to develop a strong sense of who they are and whose they are. The role God gave us as women is one to be honored, never resented. We must realize our worth and…“aim high”!