Monday, August 26, 2013

What good can a 16 year old do?

 At 16, Can anyone expect more than to dabble with nail polish, collect knick-knacks, and display pictures to her friends on facebook?

In 1739 Eliza Lucas assisted her father by managing their family's large estate, while her father was on military travel. 
 Due to her ailing mother, Eliza was the main overseer of inventory and production of three farms.  The daily business transactions would have been the full time job of any man and she proved herself as competent without the goal of trying to prove competency.  She engaged in a work to help her father.
We see the most about the character of someone when we read their own words, as Eliza's letter to a friend reads:
“I think myself happy that I can be useful to so good a father, and by rising very early I find I can go through much business.” 
One aspect of maturity is ambition, a desire to achieve something difficult. 
Another aspect of maturity is diligence, a concentrated effort to complete a task.
She diligently rose early in the day in order to accomplish what needed to be done.

Cultural eyes zeroed in on her family's fortune may miss what this character can teach our youth. 
Those with abundance in resources and those who lack material resources can possess ambition and pursue diligence.  Indeed they must.
 As 1739 unfolds, Eliza's father sends a variety of seeds for trial crops.  One unusual seed was Indigo, and as she experimented time and again for three years, she eventually developed Indigo and shared it with others. It became a cash crop of the South.  Her impact on the economy of the colony of South Carolina led to her fame as the first woman to be listed in South Carolina's Business Hall of Fame.
 Her eighteenth century "letterbook" revealed that business was only one work of her hands and in her heart she was busy about the welfare of others.  Scores of letters were sent to encourage her father and her brothers.  She tutored her younger sister and other children on the plantation.  From her studies of law she was able to draft legal wills for her neighbors.
Eventually she married, weathered the American Revolution, and passed from this life as the mother of a cosigner of the United States Constitution and Presidential and Vice-Presidential Candidates.  President George Washington was a pallbearer at her funeral by his own request. 
How she started off at 16
led to an incredible story of success.

She seized the current day while it was called today.
She prioritized serving others.
She planted hope and inspiration in others.  
And in that regard, any 16 year old can live up to that example.  And who knows where your story could lead!

Eliza Lucas Pinckney. The Letterbook of Eliza Lucas Pinckney, 1739-1762. Ed. by Elise Pinckney and Marvin R. Zahniser. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1972


Amy Jo Underwood said...

I have to say that as I listened to her letters on audio, I was both humbled by my comparative slothfulness and inspired by her wisdom at such a young age.
Her letters to her father and brothers were such a good example of how a woman can use her influence to the glory of God.

What an inspiration to women of any age, and what a legacy she gave to her family and community!

I love you, dear Mother! :-)

Molly said...

She is an inspiration - I'm sure she wasn't perfect, of course we're hearing just a fraction of a life, but I think we all can be more aware of our need to build up others in our lives.
Love to you!