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The Warmth Of Sankofa… A Love Letter By Mae Catherine Godhigh

“A Long Overdue Love Letter to Past and Present Leading Ladies in the Black Church”

March is Women’s History Month in the United States. It is a time of reflection. As we collectively celebrate the achievements of women across our nation, my Hall-of-fame nomination goes to the above-mentioned.

Dearest Leading or First Lady,

Allow me to preface my letter by saying, I see you, and I appreciate you. In a world where simple acts of kindness are becoming extinct, you are a breath of fresh air. I realize your title does not come without a price tag. Underneath the fancy hats lie myriad levels of unseen hats. From the moment you were presented to us, you were scrutinized. You were either too much or not enough. With class and fortitude, I watched you and your PKs navigate the magnifying glass of community sentiment.

Woman, you are courageous and larger than life itself. Yes, you are the front line of defense for our pastors! While we slept, your phones ring throughout the night. Even while death, illness and tragedy are not on the schedule of your daily lives, you find ways to accommodate it. In the middle of night, it is your husband who rolls out of bed to bring comfort to those in distress. Your sleep and household have been interrupted. Lost sleep cannot be recovered. In your home and lives, there is no such thing as business hours.

I rejoice over you for being his God-ordained covering and spiritual protector, therapist and best friend. When he is traveling, you are his proxy. When he is sick, you minister to him. When he is knocked down and sometimes knocked out, you pick him up.

I saw you during the start-up ministries, and you stood by your man. You joined him in washing the church’s windows, sweeping floors, scrubbing bathrooms, decorating the sanctuary, offices and fellowship areas. Afterward, you went home and cleaned your house while none of this was beneath you.

Many of us were unaware you juggled a full-time job. You never complained about being the church’s first Sunday school teacher, praise/worship leader, and women’s leader. When we neglect our church duties, you are the pastor’s go-to girl. Nevertheless, you always found time to encourage the hearts of others while yours was bleeding.

I see you leading Lady, full-time wife, and mother. Very few of us see the woman with delayed dreams and aspirations. Some of you woke up in roles you never sought out or signed up for. Your position requires you to function in the midst of sheep and wolves. With poise, I watched you maneuver the madness of pseudo-leading ladies. You deserved a medal for that alone. Yes, there were days you were looked up to and other days you were reviled.

I witnessed you pray for more grace as you were forced to listen to how much we love our pastor; without even a slight mention of your name. I know your name may not be engraved on the cornerstone of the building. Nevertheless, I saw you striving to have your name written in the lamb’s book of life.

With divine power, coupled with experience, you learned to master the leading lady’s game face. Perhaps, someday you will write a playbook for future leading ladies.

In closing, I know you felt invisible and underappreciated. I say this while I can; you have an enormous impact on us who depend upon your smile and presence. Never doubt that God saw your silent tears. You are so loved.

Now, this is the moment when my thank you’s could never be enough. So I will simply say thank you for carrying us through some difficult times in our history. Thank you for your sacrifices to the ministry. Thank you for praying for our pastor’s strength as he fulfills his pastoral obligations. Thank you for encouraging his heart. Thank you for being a wife and not a knife.

Thank you for being a mentor, trailblazer, counselor, and sometimes a surrogate mom. Thank you for being the best secret keeper. Thank you for all the monetary gifts and notes you quietly slid into our hands.

Thank you for being a mid-wife to generations. Thank you for surviving. The church could not exist without you and your gifts. I am convinced that’s the way God planned it.

Your not so secret admirer,

Mae Catherine Godhigh