Last week, I had a wonderful time at a big homeschooling event, where I learned much about homeschooling my children. Even more than that, I had several epiphanies about myself and Heavenly Father's plans for me and my children.
Interestingly enough, one of the biggest "A-ha moments" happened to me as my husband was driving us home. I was telling him about how I had a special moment with some of my friends to just talk and soak in what we had learned. One of my friends gave me a compliment, and I had a hard time accepting it. I started telling her how I admired another of our friends, with her poise and elegance. And then I also told her that I wished I were more like HER, because she's so organized and on-task.
As I was sharing this experience with my husband, he chided me for not appreciating the gifts that God has given me. I was a little "put out," at first, but then I started thinking about one of my personal heroes, and the reasons I had always looked up to her.
For instance, Dolley acted in the role of First Lady to TWO presidents! Thomas Jefferson, a widower, asked Mrs. Madison to fulfill the duties of First Lady while her husband, James, served as Secretary of State. And then, when James became President himself, she continued to serve in that capacity.
It was a difficult time in the fledgling United States, and Dolly hosted many state dinners with guests from around the globe. She was well-known for her abilities to put anyone from anywhere at ease with her friendly, welcoming manner. She smoothed many difficult social situations because of her love and kindness to people of every country.
She also saw the need to beautify and decorate the White House. She went to great effort to make the White House a place where anyone could feel comfortable and welcome.
Many people who write about Dolley tend to emphasize her bravery in waiting at the White House for her husband, even though British troops were marching toward Washington. And I have read many times about her delaying her escape so she could save the picture of George Washington before the White House was burned to the ground. Of course I admire her for those exciting acts she performed, but it's her talents in being a hostess and wife that inspire me the very most.
So, back to me, conversing with my husband in our van on the way home. I don't know why I thought about Dolley in that moment, but I was reminded about how many people feel her talents and contributions to our country were merely superficial. But my friend had told me that I have similar talents to my hero, and just as I value and appreciate Dolley's gifts, I should value and appreciate my own, as well. I shed tears, thinking about Dolley, and about me, my friend, and all the many women I love and admire.
As women, we each have strengths and weaknesses. Do we acknowledge and accept our God-given talents and abilities, or do we only see the gifts of the women around us? We should NOT de-value our own contributions to the world and within our circle of influences and homes! We should be able to say "Thank you," when given a compliment. And just because other women are amazing, does not mean that we aren't, too! Whether we are Abigails, Marthas, or Dolleys, we have much to offer our families and the world at large.
Thanks for the reminder, Toni, Russell... and Mrs. Madison.