Today is International Label Day and I was asked by Rarasaur, the person who “invented” this holiday, to participate in the celebration. As Rara describes it, “International Label Day is celebrated November 21st. This holiday celebrates the beauty of the words we choose to let shape us, the subcultures that we are proud to be part of, and the surprising meaning of the labels we all choose for ourselves!”
I choose to wear the labels of seeker and woman of valor.
I’ve sometimes despaired over my inability to stop thinking, questioning and searching. I’ve often wished that I could just shut my brain off and be satisfied with what I already know. I’ve wanted the simple things in life to be enough like the fact that I have food, shelter and love. Why all these questions, Karen? Enough already with this self-indulgence.
But I know who I am. I’m a seeker, always questioning, continually on the hunt for knowledge. It’s taken me a long time to appreciate this quality in myself and to see that the more I discover, the less I know for sure. It’s not about finding answers as much as pursuing information that will connect me to you, to God, to my light. I’ve heard the connection between us described as a thread but I see it more as a power cord. Some of us only get trickles of energy through our cord while others seem to be electrified. But we are all plugged in to the same light source. Some people focus on the light by avoiding the darkness. I focus on the light too but I’m not afraid to look in the darkness to find it. I see it as a kind of gift.
Woman of Valor
Woman of valor or eshet chayil in Hebrew, comes from Proverbs 31, a 22 verse poem taught to King Lemuel by his mother detailing the attributes of an ideal woman. Many women have taken this poem as a literal to-do list of what we need to accomplish to be respected and admired. Christian writer Rachel Held Evans points out that Proverbs 31 “is cited at nearly every Christian women’s conference as the ideal to which all godly women must strive.” If there’s one thing I know about our American culture of perfectionism, we’re spectacularly good at missing the point.
In Jewish tradition, Proverbs 31 is a hymn sung by husbands to their wives on Friday night, before the Shabbat meal. It’s a man’s blessing to his wife and words of gratitude for all that she’s done for him and their family throughout the week. It’s not a to-do list or a reminder of what she needs to do to measure up. In her book A Year of Biblical Womanhood, Evans writes, “The Proverbs 31 woman is a star not because of what she does but how she does it – with valor….Take risks. Work hard. Make mistakes. Get up the next morning.”
I also like Rivka Zakutinsky’s description from her book, Finding the Woman of Valor:
The “Woman of Valor” does not describe a passive sort of person. She is a determined individualist who regards even the most difficult adversity as an opportunity for spiritual progress. When confronted with destructive forces, she has the inner resources to fortify herself and those around her, becoming a fierce and uncompromising warrior.
What labels do you proudly wear?