Cultivating Life

Jules-Adolphe Breton, The Last Gleanings (public domain)

On Mother’s Day morning, I woke up thinking about the things that bind women together. Not the things that separate us.

In much of the Christian world, there’s an implication that childless women are deficient, that motherhood is the pinnacle of femininity. I’ve bought into this lie myself. I’ve believed myself a broken, insufficient picture of womanhood because I don’t and may never have children. But I’m in a real Eowyn mood lately, and I’m currently convinced that I’m no less a woman than a mother of five.

In her book Ruby Slippers, Jonalyn Fincher talks about the common core of woman, the traits that we all share (beyond the gender-role boxes taught in Sunday School or John Gray books). One of them is that women, mothers or not, are cultivators of life. I woke up yesterday with that phrase in my mind, thinking of the many wonderful women I know and the diverse ways in which they cultivate life. They create art that brings beauty into the world. They educate children and adults. They provide loving homes for pets. They nurture businesses and ministries. They speak truth with compassion. They inspire others to try new things. They help people break free of shame and oppression. They bring hope and laughter into dark places. They invest in their city. They bring about the kingdom of God on earth, a little at a time. And most of them do all this while also raising their own children, which is definitely a hugely important job in itself.

I’m a cultivator too. In summertime I grow a vegetable garden and tend my flowers to help them become strong and beautiful. I fuss over my two cats a little too much (ask anyone). I try to be a positive influence and fun aunt to my niece and my friends’ children. In my writing and my relationships, I strive to make people feel encouraged, understood, and valued for who they are. When I do these things, I feel more alive, in general and in my womanhood. I’m getting more purposeful about cultivating life through my everyday actions (which I’ll talk about more in my monthly Alive post next week).

Let’s start paying attention to how each of us uniquely cultivates life. And then let’s celebrate it!

About Brenda W.

Christian. Memphian. Reader. Writer. True blue Tiger fan. Lover of shoes, the ocean, adventure, and McAlister's iced tea. View all posts by Brenda W. →
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Posted in one word: alive, womanhood

6 Responses to Cultivating Life

  1. I love this. I’ve never heard of the phrase “cultivator of life” but it is so true of me and many other women I know who don’t have children (as well as those who do). For me, after proceeding some of the heartbreak of not conceiving, I had to ask myself, “What is my mothering/nurturing heart for in *this* season? What purpose does it have?” Which led me to other worthwhile things I can do while waiting for children.
    Thanks for writing on this. I appreciate your honesty.

  2. Caroline says:

    I absolutely love this. I have always admired you for your cultivating – of your garden and plants, of Peach and Gandalf, and of your friends. I will never forget how you have nurtured and supported me over the past year. I love you!

  3. Carol says:

    I love your thoughts. I was thinking earlier this week how those who don’t have children are looked down upon. Not everyone can have children; not everyone wants them. And when you expect that woman = child(ren), you perpetuate stereotypes; what about that single dad raising his kids? What about the guy who doesn’t want kids? The one with kids is often lauded and praised as some superhero and the one without is looked at with humor and understanding.

    I hope that all makes sense. It does is my head. :Þ

  4. Danielle says:

    Just beautiful, Brenda. I love it.

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