Emily Belle Freeman
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THIS IS MY JOY

AND MY GREAT REJOICING

For Meg, on your 18 birthday…

It was four AM in the darkness of the morning of July 2 when they came. Entering with hushed voices, their raw excitement replacing the hangover of sleep. Those who would become your aunts and grandmothers gathered quietly in the room, bringing their strength and wisdom, waiting for you. In those final minutes their strength hung in the air thick like a welcome and I knew when you came, fresh from heaven, the first thing your open eyes would see was that you were surrounded with wisdom and with love.

You, the first granddaughter to be born.

And those who fill my life, who are your blood, joined together to offer the depth of strength that can only be found when righteous women gather.

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It has been almost eighteen years and that gathering of women has never ceased to surround your life.

Those women have held you.

They cleaned and bandaged bloody wounds. They listened, with rapt attention, to the stories that filled up your imagination. When I was down on bedrest with your little sister Grace, they raised you.

When you had no friends in fifth grade you decided that grandma would be your best.

They came to watch you get dressed for Prom, and then again to mend your broken heart when it was over. You have shared with them first glimpses of love and they have given your hope wings and your heart courage.

I watch them circle you and realize that still, all these years later, their strength hangs in the air thick and still you are surrounded with their wisdom and with their love.

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In just days from now you will become one of them. A woman. I wonder, do you know the privilege that is yours?  You, a daughter in His kingdom.

Do you understand your role?

Do you know the strength and the wisdom that you possess?

Ours is a gender that has been privileged since the world began.

We are decision makers. But that in itself is not enough, we are willing to bear the responsibility and consequence that comes from the decisions we make. We are not afraid of change or of pain. We have learned through experience to recognize the influence of the world and to choose instead Jesus Christ. Therein lies the wisdom we possess; our strength comes through His grace.

This truth is recorded throughout all of scripture.

In holy pages our role has been well defined, preserved, recorded.

We come from a long line of distinguished women who raised up prophets, led armies, and saved nations. Women who prophecied because of the testimony of Jesus which filled their souls and who worked miracles through His grace. These women counseled with kings, with heads of armies, and with spies. They spoke with angels and provided for prophets. They ran households, led humanitarian efforts, and fulfilled positions within the church. Their roles required them to come to know the Lord. They plead for His deliverance, they begged for His mercy, they cried great tears of sorrow and looked to Him for direction. Through prayer they received personal revelation, and then they responded to God’s call.

It was a woman who gave birth to the Son of God. A woman who He first declared His Messiahship to. A woman who first saw the risen Lord.

Our world will tell you that this sacred gift of womanhood is worth naught. It will tell you that equal means the same. It will sell you the gratification of rights in place of gratitude for your role. It will redefine your status in an effort to undermine God’s definition of who you are ––of who He needs you to become.

The world is wrong.

In God’s eyes you hold a place of reverence, of purity, of greatest respect and honor.

Perhaps one day you will wonder about your place in His kingdom, maybe you will ask if the portion you have been allotted is enough, you might be desperate to know exactly who it is that He needs you to be.

I hope that happens.

And when it does, I hope you will remember the advice handed down from righteous women from generation to generation, from grandmother to mother, from mother to daughter, and now from me to you…

Clarity will come as you look to Him. Meet Him at the well. Seek Him in your sorrow. Ponder Him in your heart. Treasure the words of His prophets. Fight for His causes. Allow Him to direct His work.

You must remember this truth…when we seek for that which is not ours to bear we neglect that which we have been given.

I believe the gift of womanhood is bestowed upon all those who call it a privilege to bear it.

I believe that it is a gift that must be sought after, cultivated, and cherished ––for therein lies its strength.

I believe the possessor of this sacred gift embodies the strength, wisdom, and love displayed by the most revered women in the Bible.

I believe there is great power that comes through this gift that God has reserved for you.

Never take for granted the magnitude of your stewardship as a daughter in His kingdom and as a righteous woman in Israel.

How great is your calling.

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Emily Freeman