To the women who have gone before me

March- a month to celebrate women and raise awareness of the issues still faced. As I was thinking about what I wanted to write this month, I was suddenly struck by such gratitude for those who have come before me. People have shared stories of incredible women who have forged the way for those to follow. I have read stories to my daughter and heard her amazement at the conditions women lived (and in some cases continue to live) in. We can view our current realities through the perspective of these women in history- both recent and long past.

I may not know all of their names or stories but I feel the benefit of these women who have gone before me. This is an expression of gratitude for them:

An open letter

To those women who have preceded me

Thank you seems to be such a trivial sentiment in light of all that you endured, fought for, invested and sacrificed. Those words don’t quite carry the weight of what I want to express. I wouldn’t be in the positions I am in now and living with the privilege I carry if you hadn’t lived the way you did.

Know that your choices made a difference, even if you never saw the fruit of them in your lifetime. I want to carry that as a reminder that the same is true in my life. It spurs me on to keep being intentional with how I spend my time and what I invest my energy into. My name will likely be largely unknown and lost to history one day as so many of yours are. This seems intolerable in a culture that pushes us to grab attention in any way we can. What use is that attention if it, at best, makes no difference in the lives of people or, at worst, causes harm to how people view themselves and others?

You inspire me with your courage and willingness to stand for needed change. Some of you showed this courage in radical acts. Others in the small everyday choices you made. I want to promise that I will live courageously for the sake of others. That scares me. Ironic, right? I think that you were probably scared too but chose courage anyway. I can do the same.

My daughter is one of those women who follow behind you too. I often think about how the way you raised your children or influenced future generations is a large part of how change continues to grow. It would be easy to see the demands of parenthood as a distraction from what is important. I have caught myself doing that at times. And yet, it is of critical importance. My daughter will know that she is loved and I will raise her to be courageous and compassionate.

I am a part of your legacy, connected through time and space. I will seek to continue that legacy in my own way. Thank you for the changes you ushered in and the example you left.