My daughter Riley and I were on our way to an out of town football game when my husband Ben called. I thought he was checking on whether we had arrived at our destination, which was over an hour away from home. I hit the Bluetooth button, and his voice filled the van. “Did you get my text?” he asked. “No,” I said, proud of myself for focusing on the road instead of my phone. That’s when he said, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg died.” I let out a loud gasp, almost a shriek, at the news. Despite her age and significant health issues, her death was a shock. As a woman who graduated from law school in 1999, I admired RBG and was shaken by her loss. Whether or not one agreed with her legal opinions or dissents, she’d certainly had an enormous impact on many of us, especially women.
Riley asked, “Mom, are you okay?” I told her this was a big deal, and I needed a moment before we went into the stadium. Then, the phone calls and texts started from my female friends. My friends from college, my friends from law school, my friends with whom I currently do daily life all reached out to check on me and share their heartache as well. When I finally opened Facebook later, my friends’ outpouring of grief at RBG’s death overwhelmed and moved me.
This collective mourning that flowed from women for a woman like RBG made me think of a Biblical woman named Tabitha (also known as Dorcas). The book of Acts called Tabitha a disciple and said she “was always doing good and helping the poor.” After Tabitha became sick and died, the people who knew her went to a nearby town and asked the apostle Peter to come to Joppa where Tabitha’s body laid in an upstairs room. When Peter arrived, “all the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was still with them.” Acts 9:36-42. Peter raised Tabitha from the dead and the miracle caused others to believe.
But for me, the main takeaway is that the women of Joppa loved and respected Tabitha because of the way she treated and supported them. The widows were left adrift in that society. As far as Tabitha was concerned, though, the widows in her community would not be ignored. She took care of them. She lived a life of service and built a legacy that honored other women. She served God by caring for the people who could not adequately take care of themselves. The Bible recognized the value of the relationships that Tabitha built with the women around her.
In our culture, women are pitted against one another on a regular basis. We compare ourselves to each other instead of celebrating the successes of all women. Life is difficult, and many women are working, raising kids, helping elderly parents, volunteering, pursuing creative endeavors, or simply trying to survive. Often, women try to go it alone in carrying the burdens. Instead, we can work to build a community of women to help lift each other up. Support can take many forms. Serving as a sounding board so a friend can vent may be essential to her well-being. Even just a text to remind someone she’s being thought of can be a lifeline in a time of difficulty.
Women need to support other women. Let us work to be the type of women that other women believe are for them, not against them. In so doing, we will serve God and help women experience God’s love for them.