Culture, Culture + Taste

I come from a long line of women who disobeyed society’s rules

I know my ancestors, just as well as I know my friends. They sustain me on my bad days, and I rejoice with their memory in my progress to the trail they left.

I come from a long line of women who said no.

Working women, who supported their families, faced adversity with bravery and grace, changed the world, and raised children who did the same.

I come from queens of European countries, and women who worked days on a farm. Click To Tweet

However, as modern women, we forget our incredible divine heritage. We are often bombarded with the relentless attacks of the popular media and expectations of our lives; including the requirements of our career, our family, peers, and our own picture of “perfection.”  It is exhausting.

We forget that we are not alone. The women before us fought these same expectations on different levels, and they can teach us how to handle them ourselves.

Through the example of the incredible lives they lived, my ancestors blazed a trail for me. It is my responsibility to look back on the path and move it forward.

The path to look back on is, while inspiring, can be hard to look at.

It started with a lady named Emma, who changed the last name of her child she had from a married British soldier in South Africa to avoid the rage of her slave-owning father. That child then brought six of her own children with her to America, and after being separated from them, she landed in America where I live now, in Boston, MA. Then she walked 2,365 miles across the then-wilderness, toting every physical possession she had with her children alone, to ensure her family had a good life in Zion.

Who they were, makes me who I am. Click To Tweet

There are many others who made that journey came from Canada, Denmark, and Germany, all with very similar stories.

I come from queens of European countries, and women who worked day and night on a farm. I come from pioneers of thought and religion, and graceful followers of God. I come from women who provided for their families, headed up their communities, fought in wars, and never let anyone cross them.

My maternal great-grandmother, whom I’m named after, died from pneumonia while doing laundry in a blizzard for her children because she valued the quality of their lives over the comfort of her own.

My paternal great-grandmother, while raising nine children, boiled potato soup for the young people in her community every Sunday during the Great Depression, much to her husband’s dismay. She did it anyway, thus known for saying, “These people are young and hungry and I will feed them. Now go get more potatoes.”

The path to look back on is, while inspiring, can be hard to look at. Click To Tweet

My own grandmother married young and had a child. After her husband died unexpectedly, she went to school, became a nurse, and waited a long time before getting married again. This woman, Geraldine Lund Veatch Will, raised me. She was stalwart, God-loving, graceful, and stubborn. She encouraged my creativity, supported my intuition, taught me to say no, and loved me unconditionally.

This woman showed me the value of genealogy, and the strength that it provides. Click To Tweet

As a working woman, she never let anyone tell her she is anything less for being a mother and having a career. She was supporting her family and herself, and found joy in it.

When people in my life would bully me or try to tear me down in any way, she would firmly but lovingly say, “At the end of the day, you are your own best friend. You are enough for you.”

This woman showed me the value of genealogy, and the strength that it provides. Through days of sitting through story after story, reading and rereading the pages of the family binder, and sifting through boxes and boxes of pictures, my young self became hooked on knowing these women.

I know my ancestors, just as well as I know my friends. Click To Tweet

I read their stories, admire their pictures, and learn from the lessons they leave behind. They sustain me on my bad days, and I rejoice with their memory in my progress to the trail they left.

We do well to their memory in constantly acknowledging their place in our lives. You don’t have to be an experienced genealogist to know them: There are many free websites available to everyone that only takes a couple minutes to set up. Every day that you work on knowing them, is another day you are becoming your best self and honoring them.

It is my dream to someday have my children, and my children’s children, and all my kin look back on me like I do my ancestors.

Will I leave the example of one who was intimidated by hard times or one who looked adversity in the face and shouted “do your worst?” Will I be defined by the people who hurt me or will I spread love to counteract the hate? Will I falter when challenged, or stand for truth and righteousness? When they look back on me, will they say, “it is because of her that I don’t give up today?”

I know they will, because I have decided to change the world for the better, just as the women before me have.

When the days get long, the expectations are too much, and when people doubt our power, remember: 

I am enough for me. I am a complete person just as God intended. Click To Tweet

I will fight the good fight, and I will win, just as many have before me. They are cheering us on and sustaining us- go make them proud.

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K. Sophie Will

K. Sophie Will

Editorial Fellow K. Sophie Will is a student at Boston University studying Journalism with a concentration in International Relations.

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