God’s timing was such that this was something that He desired for us to do. I didn’t understand fully in those days how God has such an intricate plan for our lives if we’re willing to walk in it. Ephesians 3: 20 says that we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand, that we might walk in them. I didn’t understand that completely at that time but I knew that God loved me and I knew that because He loved me, I had importance, worth, value, significance that no one or no circumstances could take away from me.
And so, with that knowledge, my husband and I prayed about whether he should run for the United States senate or not and God started to work on me. And I became convinced that it was what the Lord would desire us to do and so we did that. I knew in the spiritual area that I needed to submit and do what I think God had for me and that He was in charge and He was responsible but, in the natural, I knew that we were in a race that was unwinnable. Everyone said it was unwinnable. I knew that. I was not a political novice either.
So, we got into that race and everything went wrong. Everything seemed, in our eyes anyway, to be working backwards but in our hearts we had a peace about it. And so, on the Sunday night before the Tuesday election, the polls showed us 11 points behind. And then the next night, only a half an hour after the polls closed, one of the national networks projected my husband the winner. So, we went to Washington, D.C. and I had no doubt that we were where God would have us to be.
It’s exciting to know that once God has from us what He desires, that willingness to walk out his plan for our lives, that He is sovereign, master over the circumstances in our lives. He can bring things together to work out precisely the way He desires, if he has from us that willing heart. I look back to that time some 2,000 years ago, when God sent an angel to a little girl named Mary. Unlikely choice, young, poor, unmarried, from nowheres-ville Nazareth. And that message-bearer said to her that God desired that she would bring forth and bring into the world the very Son of God. And that little girl had a willing heart and she said, “Be it unto me according to thy word.” What she was saying was “God, I want to walk in that path and those good works which you prepared beforehand for me.” And so Jesus Christ came into the world through a woman. That’s the greatest honor that womanhood could ever be accorded. That’s exciting, to know that God chooses to use us. And I believe we are living in a day and age when He has great plans for women on the earth. That excites me. That has been growing in my awareness since ’82 and ’83.
When I went with my husband to Washington in 1979, I did work with him for four years as an unsalaried assistant and God used the very thing that used to divide us to draw us together because we worked very well together. I was called in 1982 to see if I would accept an appointment as a special assistant to the president to be a liaison to women’s organizations of all types. Those were days in the United States when women’s issues were very volatile. They were on the front burner, the fire was on high, and the pot was boiling, and I, frankly, was not very excited about being dropped right in to the middle of it. I thought it would be a political hot seat and it was. But, you know, I felt deeply as we talked about it and prayed about it, that was what I should do, that was what God would have me do. So, I went and I did it and it was tough. It was very tough. But it was during that time that the Lord imparted to me a great understanding of his love for us, we women, and for the things that He desires to do for us and through us.
I became very much aware that as we sought equality and open doors of opportunity, as well we should, that there were some things that were not being talked about in the public debate. Some things that were truly beyond equal rights. I came to realize that we women needed to find out who we are in the eyes of the God who made us, something I had discovered earlier in my life. And I could see that need in all kinds of women—women at the top of the corporate ladder who sat there talking to me with empty hearts, sometimes bitterness, sometimes bitterness over great injustices that had been done to them—but women that needed to know that they had value and worth, not just because of their achievements but because of who they are. I came to realize that we needed to find out from the God who made us, who calls us by name, who’s numbered the hairs on our head, what it is he has for us to do and then walk in it.
I would have women come up and wait to the very end of the line when I had spoken to say to me, “Mrs. Jepsen, I’d like to talk to you about such and such but I’m just a housewife.” And, I thought, why do women have to apologize for pouring out their lives freely, without a salary, for others? What’s more important than people? There isn’t anything. They’re to be commended and respected. And those women that feel that they need to pursue a career or that they desire to go out into the marketplace—wonderful. We make tremendous contributions. They’ve often been unheralded.
But it doesn’t solve a problem by becoming bitter. That’s a second problem. I saw many women who modeled themselves on the very men that they had been so disappointed in. That’s not eliminating a problem, it’s just creating a second one. But I also became very aware that many women do not understand their value and their worth by just their womanhood. We need to leave the fine touch of womanhood every place we go, all across the fabric of our society and we have that opportunity if we will just yield and have that willing heart that God desires. We need to come into that relationship with our Father who has this plan for us and the only way that we come into that broken relationship, broken because of our rebellion, is when we accept His son’s sacrifice. He sent his only son to die for us while we were turning to our own ways. He loved us that much. Women are the finishing touch of God’s creation. Do you ever think about that? We were the last thing, the crowning touch of His creation. We have not always been appreciated but we need to understand our value and our worth. We need to know that it’s not how much money we earn in the marketplace, how many degrees we have, how big our title is, how much money we have that really counts. It’s who we are. It’s who we are.
I have had opportunities in my life that there is no way I could have achieved if I had planned it and if I had scrambled and clawed and shook my fist and pushed for it or been in training most of my life for it. I walked with presidents. I don’t deserve that. In this country and abroad, met with the Pope a couple months ago. Been all over the place. There’s nothing in Dee that deserves that but I believe it’s because I’ve had a willing heart and said, “I will do it. I will go. Send me” and the love of Jesus Christ goes with me. I’m not unique. I’m not special, but He is.
About 8 years ago, I had the opportunity to sit next to a woman that I admire very much at a luncheon on Capitol Hill. Mother Teresa is her name, who has a home for the destitute and the dying in Calcutta, India. We were assembled in that room before she came, very impressive room, big chandeliers, tall ceilings, lots of marble. She came into the room after we were assembled and I saw some of the strongest leaders in the world stand at their feet with tears in their eyes and applaud just to be in the presence of this little tiny lady. She didn’t own anything. She never shook her fist for her rights. She never asked for anything for herself and I thought, “God, this is more power than I see in the halls of congress. What does she have?” And it struck me that she was a bundle of walking love because she had reached down into the gutter to love those that the world sees as unlovable because they’re created in the image of the God that she loves. That’s power. That’s God-given power. That’s leadership.