[Guest commentary by Jonalyn Fincher, author of Ruby Slippers: How the Soul of a Woman Brings Her Home]
Before Ruby Slippers was published, I remember how skeptical people were about my writing project. I’d hear things like, "Wow! You’re writing about the woman’s soul?" I’d see a doubtful glance at my youthfulness and then a slow smirk, "Good luck!" Some would tease, "Nice, small project!" The more outspoken gave unsolicited pointers, "Women are emotional, make sure you put that in your book." Others would counter my enthusiasm with, "I’d be very interested to see what you find." Some would just state that women are complicated and mysterious and change the subject.
Ruby Slippers is now out there, living, moving, and having its being. While the comments keep coming to my inbox, they’ve changed their tune. Recently a friend from seminary days now working as a church leader called. She told me that she was planning to buy her mother and mother-in-law a copy of Ruby Slippers for Mother’s Day. I wanted to know why.
"It’s got a great cover!" she said laughing. "But, really, your book is going to give both my moms a new perspective into their womanhood. For their generation this is not a very familiar topic. They haven’t thought a lot about what it means to be a woman. You’ve respected femininity here, giving it new life, breathing purpose, value and dignity into something that the church doesn’t know what to do with. You’ve helped women see they don’t have to be smashed into one place. They can have full life, now. I just can’t wait to hear what they think, to talk with them after they read it."
Last week I got an email from a middle-aged woman who told me that Ruby Slippers had given her this indescribable feeling. "There is just no way to describe the feelings of HOPE that I feel about the SOULS of Women. It seems, with your words, you have reached right in to touch the very SOUL of me…and reminded me that inherently, I am Pure, Whole, Light & Life……JUST AS IS."
I sat at my desk amazed at her words. This smirked-over manuscript was bringing Light and Life. Those two pregnant words are the things so many women think they’ll find in a romance or in Wicca or boutique spirituality or from Oprah. They are the two things Christ came to give. He gives abundant life to women, now. He brings light to women, today. God finds us valuable even as fallen women.
When God chose to curse woman in Eden, he treated her as if she was responsible. When God chose to redeem the earth, he dignified Mary as if she, though no older than a seventh grader, was capable of bearing God in her womb. There’s something to women that goes deeper than the typical labels (beautiful, romantic, helper, better-half, weaker sex, baby-machine). God thought Woman offered more than a hot body or a romantic sensibility to planet Earth. As it turns out, women, like men, are made in God’s image, with all the rights and privileges thereof.
That means that our mothers are image-bearers of God, and that alone, regardless of their good or bad mothering, is worth honoring.