They called him Big John. And he teased my older brother without mercy every day during our long bus ride home from elementary school. This charade went on for weeks, building to a final breaking point on a hot spring day. Finally, the fight was set. My brother and Big John would duke it out on the large grassy drop off area at our apartments after school.
To this day I have no idea what tipped the scales toward childish violence. But there we were: kids from school circling around now chanting “fight, fight,” my lanky brother squaring up for the showdown with Big John, and me with a friend looking on from the sidelines anxious of what would befall my dear sibling. From the side of that grassy field, I felt my engines revving as the bigger boy taunted my brother, taking a few swings at him. A few attempted swings back only egged that bigger boy on.
And then it happened, as if someone slammed the pedal to the floor inside my chest. A long, rising growl roared out from the depth of my being as I dropped my books and ran full steam toward that big kid. As I neared him, I put my head down, hands out and barreled into him like a professional linebacker. I knocked that bully clean off his feet and he barely knew what hit him.
Big John was taken down to size… by a girl.
Before I married, I never knew much about comic book characters beyond Superman and Wonder Woman. (I’ve since been educated by both my husband and 4-year-old son). But I’m pretty sure I possessed Wonder Woman’s strength that day. Big John never messed with any of us again.
I’ve always appreciated the comic heroine Wonder Woman. Setting aside the pseudo-Greek mythology origins, the character demonstrates warrior-like strength, authoritative intelligence, and sacrificial love she believes will “save the world.” These are all aspirational qualities the human heart longs to experience.
True, Wonder Woman is a fictional creation born from the mind of what I would call a deeply flawed individual. But if it’s also true that these comic book heroes–a modern day mythology— “allow us to examine, learn, and understand ourselves within a real world,” then this character must hint at something we really want: a powerful defender, someone who will rescue us in the battles we face.
Here’s the catch: we don’t have to look to comic book legends to find this. The real “Wonder Woman” is revealed at creation’s very beginning.
“The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18.
You see, before Adam declared the obvious about God’s newest creature — that she was fashioned from his own side–God himself declared her purpose.
That is, Woman, you are a warrior. Powerful. Strategic. Essential.
This word–helper –don’t let it fool you. Don’t let preconceived notions in the English language water down its meaning.
Of the 21 times this word is used in the Old Testament, most are used in a military context. In fact, it is most often used to refer to God as Israel’s “help” in battle. And who could believe anything less about the real power of God’s help? Without it, they would not have survived.
“Ezer is an explicit way that God’s daughters are called to image God. She is a warrior on behalf of God’s kingdom and joins the man in battling the darkness, advancing God’s kingdom, and watching his back,” author and theologian Carolyn Custis James writes.
“God created His daughters to be ezer-warriors with our brothers. He deploys the ezer to break the man’s loneliness by soldiering with him wholeheartedly and at full strength for God’s gracious kingdom.”
I don’t like violence but I recognize that warrior drive in me as a woman. Most of my favorite movies – war movies or not — involve a protagonist who fights through insurmountable circumstances. In these movies, the hero fights to win the battle or die trying.
And on that hot spring day as a child, the ezer-warrior within me was most certainly deployed. Wise or not, she ran head on into battle to defend my brother.
And isn’t that our cause in real life? Because, Woman, you are an “ezer.” A powerful ally, a mighty force to fight alongside our brothers against the evil that overshadows our world.
If my daughter learns only one from me, it would be this: Don’t believe anything less about who you were created to be. You are a strength comparable to man and in every way his equal.
He cannot fight alone and win. You were meant to fight alongside, to rescue, to save, to defend… to have his back in the battle as only a woman can.
This is who God has created you to be.
A powerful ally.
In short … a wonder woman.