1898

1900s girlsMy Grandmother Barhite died when I was 13.  I spent a lot of time with her.  She was a teacher, listener, encourager, friend, and faithful helper.  I learned about the gift of hospitality and service from both my mom and my dad’s mom.  Both taught me to serve others rather than self.  Sleep-overs with Grandma were more than fun, they were lessons in womanhood, family life and growing in faith.  When Grandma died, I lost a mentor.

Or did I?  In a box of Grandma’s photos, I discovered one of her girlhood books.  It is a keepsake.  Often, I quote from it during Titus 2 Retreats.  The book was published in 1898 by author Mary Wood-Allen, M.D.  Notable women of Dr. Allen’s day recommend the book.  They include Mrs. Lillian M.N. Stevens, President of National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union; Mrs. Helen Campbell, Dean of the Department of Household Economics in the Kansas State Agricultural College, and Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, noted Woman Suffragist, Lecturer, and Author.  The book is titled What a Young Woman Ought to Know from the “Purity and Truth: Self and Sex Series.”  In reading this book, I realize that Grandma is still mentoring me.  I also realize that Biblical womanhood (and  manhood) has been foundational for the benefit of society for a long, long time.

From time to time, I hope to share a few quotes from my grandma’s book.  Consider the Preface:

During a number of years it has been my privilege to be the confidante and counselor of a large number of young women of various stations in life and in all parts of the United States.

Hmmm.  I’m not a physician like Dr. Mary Wood-Allen, but I have been privileged to be taken into the confidence of a number of young women both far away and close to home.

These girls have talked freely with me concerning their plans, aspirations, fears and personal problems.  It has been a great revelation to me to note with what unanimity they ask certain questions concerning conduct — queries which perhaps might astonish the mothers of these same girls, as they, doubtless, take it for granted that their daughters intuitively understand these fundamental laws of propriety.

Hmmm.  Girls have also shared with me their hopes, dreams, and personal problems.  They ask many of the same questions about behavior and choices.  They express frustration about their identity, their bodies, and relationships.  Fewer mothers and grandmothers have tried to pass on ideas of Biblical womanhood so most of these girls have learned about being a woman from the culture.

The truth is that many girls who have been taught in the olgies of the schools, who have been trained in the conventionalities of society, have been left to pick up as they may their ideas upon personal conduct, and, coming face to face with puzzling problems, are at a loss, and perhaps are led into wrong ways of thinking and questionable ways of doing because no one has foreseen their dilemma and warned them how to meet it.

Hmmmm.  Today’s young women have been “oligized.”  But, far too many have little or no idea about their origin, purpose, or destination.  They have been taught how to “feel” but perhaps not how to think.

Life will be safer for the girl who understands her own nature and reverences her womanhood, who realizes her responsibility towards the human race and conducts herself in accordance with that realization . . . Life will be nobler and purer in its possession and its transmission if, from childhood onward to old age, the thoughts has been held that ‘Life is a gift of God and is divine.’

I am an ezerwoman.  A helper woman.  This is a vocation through which I can help younger women be safer, realize responsibility, and make choices that lead toward hope.  This begins with the confidence of identity: I am a creation of God and treasure of Jesus Christ.

Truth in 1898.  Truth in 2011.  Timeless.  Life-changing.  Rich with promise.

This was first posted by Ezerwoman 1-22-2011

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