I don’t remember meeting Carol. I was too young. Plus, she never lived in the same state I did. But none of that matters when it comes to family. See, Carol is my aunt. We only get to see each other every couple of years, but I always value the times when we meet. One of my enduring memories of her is when our families met at the Grand Canyon for a campout. One night, gathered around the camp fire we were telling funny stories. Carol had some great tales about her experience as a homeschool mom. As we laughed more and more, we discovered that she had a hidden talent. She could light a match with her zipper. What the what? Somehow, in my mind, that is such a great glimpse of Carol. She absolutely could not be boxed into a generalization.
I still love that about her to this day.
You can’t run from who you are. We humans seek to find our “identity” in this world, and sometimes it is a lifelong search.
I am a Woman: That fact comes with some limitations. There are certain things that I cannot do, and yet there are things I can do very well….
The secret is acceptance.
I grew up in an environment where the topic of “women” was never really discussed. I was never indoctrinated with what women “could and couldn’t do” and to be honest, that has been quite a blessing for me over the years, and a great challenge as well.
For example: If your car needs fixing and you’re a woman, what do you do? My answer: You fix it. I have risen to the occasion many times to do mechanical work where necessary, when it wasn’t too involved, with an accompanied sense of accomplishment. Hey, I have a husband who is not mechanical, but likes to save money. Need I say more? I also have a husband who doesn’t discriminate when the fixing is done: It’s fixed, and someone did it and saved money. End of story.
Sometimes I even take out the garbage….!
I have to say, I do believe in some traditional roles, but I don’t think those roles define our identity. I think that certain roles are of a practical matter, and if they work for the situation, then they work. If, however, you are forcing yourself to be something you are not, you must reconsider. It has long been considered a traditional male role to manage the finances, but what do you do if your wife is better with money than you are?
For the longest time, I envisioned myself in a very “traditional” role as a woman, and unfortunately, life did not cater to my expectations. So often in this life, we respond to our environment and what others think of us, and what they expect: My life did not allow that. So, I had to become something different – something and SOMEONE that worked for me.
My initial vision of my life as a Christian woman was so very traditional: I would keep the house, support the man and look great doing it! What I could not anticipate were the changes that made that vision impossible. Yet one of my strong points is adaptability, which was frequently put to the test. I had to go to work, as a Christian woman, since my husband could no longer work due to debilitating health issues. Did I resent it? YES!! Whenever our personal “vision” is challenged, there is a propensity to resent the intrusion! But if we are going to survive, we adjust. I’ve had it out, so to speak, with God more times than I can number, but what I have found to be rock-solid is God’s ability to handle what we feel. He knew life was changing for me, and faithfully gave me the wisdom I needed to endure it.
I thoroughly value my ability to adapt, and thank God for it. When I am in the company of women who have been able to retain their more traditional roles, I do not always fit in, because truly women can sometimes be the most judgmental of their own! Sometimes it is painful, but my goal to “fit in” no longer serves me well: My goal to follow the path set before me serves me best.
There are no cookie-cutter roles for women, I believe. When I think about what makes a woman, I think of the qualities that are most attractive in women. Women have the capacity to support, to encourage, and to give birth. Giving birth does not only mean having children, but having a vision for what can be. Many church movements were “birthed” by woman who had a vision of what could be. This, to me, is a woman’s greatest strength. A woman tends to look at life with a global perspective, having a vision that was not seen before. Some of my biblical heroes were these types of women. Mary, the mother of Jesus, had a calling that could not be accepted in her time, and yet she experienced one of the highest honors among women. Esther, moving out of her traditional role paved the way for the survival of her people. Even Rehab was a woman with a vision, and she was not disappointed by God.
I value my role as a woman, and yet I’m not always sure what that role entails. It has been a benefit to me to have the kind of relationship with God where I can go continually for wisdom. I do not know what the future holds, but I am very thankful that I have had the experience of God’s grace where it counts most: In my darkest hours, He has always been there to lead me.
For the time being, I will continue with what has worked, and try to resist the expectations of others, when they are not helpful, and this has been my greatest trial as a woman. I am not a perfect person, as many, especially my immediate family, can attest! But I am a determined woman, who loves God and wants to be led by Him. A woman has unique giftings that can only be implemented when she is willing to be herself, to be what God has created her, as an individual, to be.
May we all seek to walk in the freedom that God has called us to!
Who is Carol?
Carol Manglos is a wife, mother of three, and has had a part-time private practice in pastoral counseling since 1994, with an additional certification in whole-health education and communication facilitation from the National Institute of Whole Health. Carol resides with her husband and son in East Syracuse, New York and cares for her husband who is a triple-organ transplant patient. Her hobbies are music and photography, and she has been a worship leader for 20+ years. Carol was a chaplain at a local home-care agency for five years, recently retiring to be available to provide full-time care for her husband.
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