2008 brought heartbreak beyond comprehension. My marriage ended. I stayed in bed for months. Seriously. I watched my kids hurts. My life, as I knew it, had drastically changed. I wanted something different. I didn’t want to be defined by the abandonment and hurt feelings. I wanted something more. I needed something more. Then one day I as I was reading my favorite blogs I came across a post by Ali Edwards. She’s a mom, wife, and published scrapbooker who lives in Eugene. She chose a word for the year. I thought it was a great idea so I decided to choose one, too.
I chose Valor. I don’t remember what I was thinking at the time I chose it. I recently wrote an essay on Valor for my writing class. For lack of anything better to say, I thought I’d post it here.
January 1st, 2009: no New Year’s resolutions for me! I would not vow to lose 100 pounds or save $1000. Both are honorable and much needed, but far too narrow of a focus. I came upon a website that encouraged the readers to choose one word per month that would represent that person. I knew I couldn’t keep up with a monthly word, so I chose one for the entire year. I decided to become a woman of Valor. Yes, with a capital ‘V’. One question: what does Valor mean? I can’t really give you a dictionary definition of Valor, but I have a few ideas.
A woman of Valor is strong, courageous, bold, assertive, trusting, worthy of trust, adventurous, and maybe even a bit dangerous. I think of the Eowyn and Arwen from the movies Lord of the Rings. Both women are feminine, yet fierce warriors. They faced the challenges ahead of them even though they were afraid. They are loyal, loving, and compassionate. They are strong women. I want to be like them.
A Valorous woman is kind and wise. Her words bring life and inspire those who come near. She speaks the truth with gentility. Though her words may be words of correction, they are also words of love and grace. She doesn’t entertain bad news, but rejoices in the good. She knows when to speak and when to keep still. The hearts of her friends safely trust her. She knows who to trust, when to trust, and how to trust in the ones who love her.
A woman of valor suffers quietly. Her faith may quiver, but it does not retreat. Though the battle rages around her and she gets pushed down in the muck, she rises again. Standing, she inclines her ear to the Captain, who is called Jesus. She listens. She hears. She stands on the truth. In fact, she camps out on that truth. She is stubborn; she cannot be moved. She bears the badge of courage. She doesn’t run toward danger, though she will if need be. She is still afraid at times, but she doesn’t hide in that fear. She steps out of the shadow of fear; it has no hold over her. Fear releases its grip on her once she looks it straight in the face and tells it to go back where it came from.
A woman of Valor is strong. Her strength is from within. It is quiet, but it doesn’t go unnoticed. She is not frigidly strong. It isn’t a strength that pushes people away; the warmth draws them near. It’s the kind of strength that calls out your own strength when you’re around her. She stands firm. She is unmoved by the waves of her emotions. Strength is prone to riding the waves of change, but rather is a deeper part of her.
She stands tall and proud at the top of a green, grass covered bluff. The climb has been treacherous. The trail is covered in sharp rocks and mud. It is completely washed away in some places. She has had to forge a new path for her and the ones who climb after her. Her hands are calloused. Her knees bear the scars from all the times she has fallen. She has been beaten down. There were times she thought she could not go on. She thought she may die on the way up. When she could no longer fight, she would rest while others fought for her. She got up. She persevered. She made that climb. You’d expect her to be ragged and exhausted at the top. Her clothes should be ripped and muddy. Yet, there she stands, sparkling clean. Head held high, shoulders back, face to the wind. She looks peaceful.
Is this a lofty ideal? Probably, but I know after the year I had in 2008, I needed to move in a different direction. I didn’t want to cower in the cave of fear. I wanted something better, something great. I don’t want the difficult circumstances of my life to hold me back. I don’t want my children to see me settle. I want my daughters to walk in the truth of knowing they are worthy of being loved. I want my sons to grow up to marry women of Valor. I also want them to walk in truth, honor, and love. Me becoming a woman of Valor isn’t just about me. It’s about my children and my children’s children. It’s about creating a new family inheritance. I will make it up this treacherous trail. I will, one day, stand on that cliff. My head will be held high, my shoulders back, and my face to the wind. I will be a woman of Valor.