During the month of October, I attended three conferences that focused on women. To me, they all tied into one common thread – what are we doing business-wise and personally as women to benefit mankind?
The first one was hosted by Co-pastor Pam Cummings of the Sky is the Limit Ministries, under the leadership of Bishop T.C. Cummings. The theme centered on our purpose and how we should not allow bitterness, disappointments, abuse, rejections, anger, divorce, single parenthood, school dropout, sickness, etc. to stop us from fulfilling our destiny as women. I was moved to tears by panelist Evangelist Tinnona Patterson’s talk. She shared how she dropped out of school at the age of 14; had hard times in her upbringing; allowed bitterness, unforgiveness and hatred to creep in her life; and, was on a path of destruction until she met the Lord and the love of her life, Bishop Gerald Patterson. She said, “…Seven years ago I had open heart surgery. God spared my life. I want you to know that I have a college degree and I am now working as a registered nurse in Memphis. I am able to share the love of Christ with others. I have purpose!”
The second conference was a Women’s Business Symposium sponsored by Renasant Bank. State Treasurer Lynn Fitch personally prodded us as women to make sure a will is in place, to have life insurance that would benefit our children, or to establish college funds or savings for our children and grandchildren. She said, “Death, divorce and single parenthood happens…”
The last conference I attended was sponsored by NEWMS – New Expectations for Women in Mississippi, a non-profit program, organized to encourage and empower women to reach their full potential. Motivational speaker Deborah Tierce really stirred me and reminded me about life as she spoke. She stated, “As women, during our 20’s and 30’s – it’s all about me – what I have done – what I have accomplished. During our 40’s and 50’s – it’s about ‘stuff’ – look what I have, look at my car, look at my house. The next stage of our lives, we finally realize it’s not about me or stuff. It’s about what can we can do together to help somebody else.”
I thought about so many women that I know who openly and silently serve others. One who came to mind is Lucy Hilbun, a woman I was privileged to honor at a ‘Women of Distinction’ luncheon. She made it her life work, along with her husband, to be involved as a missionary in foreign countries. At the age of 66, she took a Spanish class in order to communicate with the people she was serving to improve their lives.
Women, do we sit back and complain about life? Or, do we get up with purpose in mind and empower ourselves to help others? Even Jeremiah, the Biblical prophet, knew the importance of a woman when he said, “Consider ye, and call for the mourning women that they may come and take up a wailing for us.” As women, we play a vitally important role in society when we work together.
I was truly affected by this quote Tierce read to us from an inscription on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop.
“When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser I discovered the world would not change – So I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country, but it too seemed immovable. As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it. And now I realize as I lie on my deathbed, if I had only changed myself first, then by example I might have changed my family. From their inspiration and encouragement I would then have been able to better my country. And who knows, I might have even changed the world.”
Do you try to change others, or do you change yourself? Do you have purpose? Is that purpose to benefit others and make a difference? You be the judge.
Juanita Gambrell Floyd is vice-president of finance and administration for the CREATE Foundation, Inc. Contact her at Juanita Floyd firstname.lastname@example.org.