(I know this may be a little too much "girl power" for the gentlemen who frequent this blog, but I feel compelled to share something with the ladies. Thank you, brothers, for indulging me.)
All right, ladies, I have a "newsflash" for you: God didn't make a mistake when he made you a woman.
I know that seems silly. You may be thinking, who really thinks God made a mistake when he made them female? But, I assure you it is not silly. In fact, I have encountered many women in the past few years who are decidedly, though normally not admittedly, disappointed that they are women. I can't unlock the many reasons why this is so. Often, they are too personal and complex for any outsider to discern. But, those of you who struggle with your identity, who long to have the apparent freedom that men have, this post is for you.
Let, me say it again: God didn't make a mistake when he made you a woman. God is not disappointed that you are female. You are a hand-crafted reflection of God's image--a beautiful testimony to God's grace and goodness. Yes, even you, the one with a dark and difficult past, with painful regrets and hidden weaknesses. You are a woman of God, a disciple of the Great Teacher, a follower of the Man who truly loved women. I challenge you to reclaim the joy of being a woman.
Now, this is not one of those posts where I will dictate for you what being a woman means. Plenty have tried in the past, but in my reading of scripture, there is no one, timeless and inalterable standard "woman." I know this is going against the grain a little bit. No one calls into question the reality of so-called "biblical womanhood" without picking a fight.
But, I ask you, if there were a paradigm for biblical womanhood, which woman would we choose? Sarah, who bossed her husband around as much as he bossed her? Rebekah, whose scheming subverted the proper birth order of her sons and alienated them from one another? What about Tamar, the abandoned widow who took advantage of her father-in-law's lust to secure a place in the family? Or, perhaps we should look to Deborah, the wise prophet to whom the Israelites came for judgment and through whom God incited Barak to battle? Or, maybe Abigail whose intelligence and bravery caught the eye of King David? The list could go on, of course. What about Naomi, Ruth, Michal, Bathsheba, Huldah, Esther, Susanna, Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Phoebe, Priscilla, Tabitha, Chloe, Junia, or the Elect Lady? Indeed, it would take a tortuous amount of historical wrangling to squeeze these diverse and complicated women into one "biblical" mold of "womanhood." As I see it, it is a fruitless endeavor.
So, don't be afraid. Short of sin, from which God wants to liberate you, there is nothing in you that is inherently un-feminine or un-womanly. Being female, being feminine, is something very personal. Of course, there are many characteristics and tendencies that unite women in general. Hence, the market for the numerous self-help books dealing with the supposed universal nature of women (Women Are from Venus, anyone?). But, in the end, not all women are alike, just as not all men are alike. You are a unique representative of the female gender, one for whom femininity may or may not conform to the status quo. I assure you, our definition of what is womanly in the southern United States is going to look quite a bit different from what is womanly in north-western Russia or southern Peru. And, that's ok.
But, I didn't write this post to debate gender identity. Getting back to where I started, allow me to bless you, my sister, by pointing out what is beautifully obvious to our Creator: You are a phenomenal woman. The way you think. The way you laugh. The way you smile and frown and weep. The way you walk and talk. The way you care and give. The way you find joy and fun. The way you wield power. The way you love. You are a phenomenal woman. Praise God for that.