“Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just one step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
I am a woman who, often times, allows fear enough space to paralyze. To stop me dead in my tracks, spinning and spiraling. So looking back (and around) at women who have made giant marks on this world can feel like a lot. Too much if I don’t allow the good and simple and small to show itself instead of the overall mammoth of whatever they accomplished.
I have been reading about Eleanor Roosevelt in this pretty incredible memoir about a handful of our First Ladies and the impact of their efforts; and the quote above (along with a million other things she said) has had me pausing here of late, considering this one life and the potential for courage in the midst of great fear.
She shines a spotlight on how insanely necessary it is to simply take a step, small or otherwise, toward what is good and right and important. She acknowledges fear and its place in this life. It is here. It isn’t something that can be wholly missed or stepped over. And it can hold us hostage if we let it. Or, she reminds us that there is another choice. A choice to step forward with all of our terrified and unsure and bring something more.
There are a few women I have noticed in the last handful of years who are making kind and helpful and important marks on our world. And their impact is far-reaching, but what I love and am so drawn to is that they are simply using what they have. They recognize their gifts and they are offering them to others FOR THEIR GOOD. They certainly are making a living off of their offerings, but what they are bringing breathes life over so many, women in particular. Certainly it took courage over fear to move into the spaces they are in, but man, are they reaping deep and profoundly good fruits from their efforts.
Morgan Harper Nichols is a profound artist of paint and design and the most wide open words. She captures hope and the vulnerability of being a person and pairs it with her own unique voice and design. What springs from that is this incredibly authentic and needed offering of understanding and encouragement. It’s as though she can see down into each of our hearts and bring forth the kindest word of acknowledgment. Her audience feels seen in their season, whatever it may look. What a gift it is that she is offering day after day in her spaces, lending a hand to those who feel a little lost in this world. Reminding us all of our togetherness instead of our isolation.
She is offering what she has; it is inescapable to see that her offerings come straight from her particular gifts. Nothing more. Her profound gift of art and deep thought and encouragement. It started with a step and has continued to build into an insane following of people finding her work day after day as needed heart work.
Sharon McMahon has done many things in her life, but the training ground for her current impact was her time as a high school government teacher. In a time when our country has felt the slice of division at every turn and an ever-growing difficulty in finding information and voices to trust, she stepped right in. Can you imagine the courage?
She used her profound skills as a teacher and brought all the knowledge she has built for years to a space desperately needing real, undisputed facts regarding our democracy. I have followed and learned from her for quite some time and I honestly have zero idea where she lands politically. I could not appreciate that more. She has built online classes and community for learning about specific topics. She spends time answering multitudes of her followers’ questions (no matter how simplistic) about current events and government processes. She recommends books and provides space for people of all manner of views and politics to see each other, a sacred ground of sorts where questions can be asked and answered with the future and each other in mind. She is using what she has within her, her experience and passion and skills, to make a mark for the good of our citizenry and future democracy.
And it started with a step.
An Instagram account where she presented the same things she used to teach her high school students about how our government works and how that relates to our everyday lives and choices. In this particular climate, I would absolutely venture that to have been a courageous act. But yet again, the mark she has already made on so many in this country and beyond is remarkable. Just go take a look at the kind of conversation happening on her feed between people who absolutely disagree. It is remarkable and outside everything else you might see in other spaces.
And women just do that, right? They have for forever. They have offered what they have to bring good into this world.
We do it naturally in our homes and workplaces and churches and on.
So why not beyond?
You have so much to bring to the table. So much to offer. Your skills and giftings and personality are unlike all the rest. You are needed.
Where in our communities are there needs that your experiences can meet? What small steps, no matter how scary, can you take that might make a mark for the good of others?
Women have been and are doing insanely impactful things. Step after step after step.
Let’s open our eyes, ladies, to the world around us. And let’s move our feet and hearts and gifts to those needs. The world will be better for it.