Anyway – the point is, 17-year old fairly ignorant Annie got to the ripe old age of 23 and decided it was time to read this book after it was recommended to me at a Think Tank meeting. I was incredibly surprised – so much so that it has since turned into one of my all-time favourite books. There’s a chapter in the book where Rachel spends a month trying to emulate the perfect wife from Proverbs 31. It’s during this chapter that she has an exchange with an Orthodox Jewish lady she’s met on the internet, and she finds that Proverbs 31 isn’t meant to be a list of instructions or standards that, let’s be honest, are unattainable one way or another for women everywhere, but is meant to be a song of celebration that a husband sings over his wife. One particular phrase, sometimes translated as “woman of valor” (v. 10), is eshet chayil in Hebrew. By the end of the chapter, Rachel is calling all of her friends eshet chayil, all of her female relatives, and even herself – as a means of encouragement and celebration.
On this International Day of the Girl Child, I feel it is all too important for us ladies to speak the words eshet chayil over one another. There is far too much of the opposite; far too much bitchiness and expectation and lying and deceit that takes place between women and girls today. We only need to look to our TV screens (or laptops if you’d prefer) to see the extent of female hate crime that lingers almost everywhere – from Kim Kardashian West’s rather public outburst at her sister on international TV, to the sob stories our sisters, friends, daughters and nieces bring home from school with them about some playground bullying.
A new report from the Children’s Society has come out that 1 in 4 girls have self-harmed by the time they’re 14.
The report says that the reason for this is due to poverty, self-image, and being unable to access the right support. What a world. Doesn’t that make you angry?
Whatever happened to female solidarity?
As a youth worker based at a girls-only project, I get told fairly frequently how cool my job must be and how empowering I must feel to be empowering teenage girls – as if that’s the standard day at the office!
The thing is, I know that. I love my job, and I love the organisation I work for and its values. But when I’m on the tube, or walking from one place to the other, am I guilty of female hate crime? Most definitely. Have I ever judged another woman for what she’s wearing, how she speaks, or the choices she’s made? I’d be a liar if I said I hadn’t.
For every judgement I’ve ever made about another person, there’s at least one other person’s judgement that’s been made about me. How am I meant to expect someone else is okay with that when the thought of someone judging me creates a real sense of anxiety?
So, what do we say – the sons and daughters of the Most High: do we sit and wait for someone else to step in and change things? Or do we look – and I mean really look – at these girls and these young women the way that Jesus does? Do we look past their flaws, their insecurities and their imperfections the way that Jesus does?
This International Day of the Girl Child, instead of passing judgement, I challenge you (and myself!) instead to say eshet chayil. Let’s turn “she’ll never amount to anything” to eshet chayil. “She’ll never be brave enough” – eshet chayil. “She’s not worth it” – eshet chayil. Let’s make this International Day of the Girl the Intentional Day of the Girl; where intentional kindness, encouragement and value really could change the world.