Women of Reverence welcomes Sarah Dlamini as a guest blogger.
Sarah is loved by God and counts that as the first privilege and
blessing above all.
She also has a husband and 2 children (a son and a daughter) who she loves inexhaustibly. As a medical doctor currently specializing in paediatrics Sarah is passionate about public health.
At the end of her day’s she would want it to be said that she spared no part of herself in loving God as He has loved her and loving those around her as He asked her to do.
There are so many external forces that impress upon women and the feminine identity. Many of them involve a “you’re too…” or “don’t be…”. Too many of us suffer from a destructive and ungodly comparison, “if only I was more…” and “I wish I wasn’t…”.
We know from Ephesians that God has set aside good works for us all to do in advance. We all have a ministry that God intended for us as part of his beautiful detailed plan for our life. And the world wants to dictate to us as women how that looks. What a woman in the workplace should look like (physically, relationally, academically). How do we resist the external forces and embolden our internal vision of who God made us to be? How do we set a new culture for what women in the workplace look like?
As a young Christian I was frightened by Proverbs 31’s description of a wife of a noble character. It seemed like yet another standard I would simply not be able to attain. Getting up early and cooking for the multitudes, sewing bedclothes and going to the market. And what did it even mean to “look well to the ways of her household”. It all just seemed a little much. But this week I was thinking about what is happening in my workplace at the moment. As a health care worker, I have not been on lockdown. The hospital is busily readying itself for the exponential surge in infections that we anticipate once the lockdown is lifted. And our minds are constantly on that future scenario. How bad will it be, how will we cope, what sacrifices are going to be demanded of us, will we be safe? There is a lot of anxiety in the air. And I’ve been asking myself this question. How do I want to be in this scenario. What do I want the testimony of my presence in the ward to be? Because ultimately that is our workplace ministry.
And in this moment God took me to Proverbs 31:25
“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”
This is who I want to be.
Clothed with strength
The original hebrew word here “`oz” which implies all forms of strength not just physical but emotional, political and social strength too. It includes references to boldness. So actually, it is referring to agency. Beautifully this word cross-references with Exodus 15:2, Miriam’s song after God parted the sea for the Israelites “The LORD is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him— my father’s God, and I will exalt him!”. Of course, the Lord is our strength and our agency. It is He who goes before us, He who parts the seas. No matter what lies ahead for us let this be our position. We do not have to drum up strength from within, we do not have to wager for agency. We are clothed with strength, agency and boldness from the Lord. He is our strength and our song.
Dignity is a concept that can be difficult to unpack. Dignity is related to how you are treated so how can we be clothed with dignity? Interestingly the original Hebrew here is “hadar” which actually means honor, glory and majesty. Like in psalm 8 when God says he has crowned us with glory. Often in the workplace we find ourselves struggling as we are mistreated, spoken down to even bullied. And yet, always, we can be clothed with dignity that comes from our heavenly Father. Always, he places a robe of honor around our shoulders. Certainly we don’t deserve this, but because of Jesus’ righteousness we can receive it. And because we receive it we can give it to those around us.
She laughs without fear of the future
This one was hard for me to read right now. Because there is just so much fear of the future going around. I know the Lord is my strong tower, an ever present help in trouble. I know he has not given me a spirit of fear but of a strong mind. And yet so often especially now, I feel afraid. Yesterday I was working in the covid unit at the hospital. One of the specialists came into the unit to do a round and remarked that there was an unexpected amount of joviality in this covid unit. It reminded me of something I’ve always known and often experienced. The joy of the Lord is my strength. When I access his deep wells of joy and blessed assurance I can share my joy with those around me. And like peace, fear cannot be where there is joy. So let us laugh at the days to come.
Let us together make a new blue-print of what a women in the workplace looks like. “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”