The time in America’s history that most fascinates me are those years where pioneers forged paths across unknown territories to a place that promised so many unknowns. Fighting off wild animals, succumbing to disease and natural disasters, traveling on uncomfortable modes of transportation – each of these challenges leave me amazed that people willingly lived that life.
And for what? Arriving at a place that looked promising to the dreamer husband while the wife, who had left every comfort she’d ever known behind, sat by his side and put on a happy face. Did she really put on a happy face? She’d most likely had to dump the few precious memories she carried from home somewhere in the wilderness when the horses could no longer bear the burden of weight. Perhaps she had buried one or more precious babies somewhere in the prairie, never able to go visit the grave. What shred of physical beauty she had to hold onto had most likely been burned away by the glaring sun or other extreme weather conditions.
And yet here she was. Sitting on her new homestead with no home to fix up and organize. All she had to look forward to was more work while continuing to live out of her beat-up wagon. Exhausted because she hadn’t slept comfortably in months. Emotional because she missed her mama and had no way of hearing her voice ever again. Trying to entertain her restless children while wishing she could give them a proper bath. Forcing back the tendency to compare what she used to call home to this desolate place that would someday contain her sod house with as many rooms as she sheets to hang for dividers.
These women seem so much different from me. I admire their bravery. I aspire to have the perspective they would have had to have gained through surviving what they did. Yet I can’t help but realize that they weren’t completely different from me. They were women. They had insecurities, mom guilt, a need for friendships, a marriage that required constant love and attention.
At the same time, we have innumerable conveniences that make our current way of life distant beyond compare to what the pioneers experienced. In spite of all of this history, from time to time, I, along with many of America’s current residents, have to fight off believing that our generation has it tougher than those who lived in a time when life was slower and without countless deadlines. God foils that way of thinking in a passage that intrigues me. Ecclesiastes 1:9-11 say this, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, ‘See, this is new’? It has been already in the ages before us. There is no remembrance of former things,nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after.” So really, it’s all the same tough reality of life in different-looking packages.
No, I do not encounter a fraction of the challenges pioneer women faced, but I cannot downplay that there are so many challenges that come with living in the twenty-first century. These women battled through hardships I can’t fully comprehend, but they had to process them with the same human qualities women today possess. I know and love so many women who are facing heartbreaking challenges at this very moment. Nearly every day, God brings to my attention a serious scrimmage that I must pray a friend through with vigilance. If those around me seem to be getting a break, I’m in the thick of fighting through an attack against myself.
Christian women are a different kind of pioneer women. We’re on a journey to the Promised Land, but the days and years that it takes until we arrive will age us. They will either embitter us or help us gain a healthy perspective of life. We can’t take a day off anymore than those bonnet-clad women could. The battle is constant and requires training, love, and ultimately, a relationship with God if we plan to win.
Help me out if you will. I’m listing several ways we’re modern-day pioneer women and plan to do a series about it. What are some topics you think would be of value for me to explore and share with others on this blog? I would so appreciate your ideas by leaving a comment or sending me an email.
In the meantime, journey on, my fellow pioneers!