Tuesday, July 10, 2007

"For all the ladies in the house tonight"...

(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.

13 comments:

Tripp Hudgins said...

Wow.

Emily Hunter McGowin said...

I hope that's a good "wow." :)

Paul said...

Emily,

Thanks so much for commenting on my blog today. Had you not I might have never stumbled upon your wonderful blog here. I just love it and I've Bloglined you and will now go and immediately put you on my blog roll (I'm suffering from a lack of women on my blog roll as it is).

This is a wonderful post, by the way. Wow. That's a good "wow!"

Benjie said...

Great post. I wandered in via Paul Littleton's blog. Keep up the good work. Your list is interesting and points out that there are positive and negative role models (for everyone). Who among men, I wonder, would choose Haman for their example, and who among women would list Jezebel as their pick?

Emily Hunter McGowin said...

Gentlemen,

Thank you for the encouragement. I am honored by your visits and comments. Women need all the help they can get from supportive men. (I know my husband, Ronnie, is my "secret weapon." I couldn't do it without him.)

Benjie,

I affirm the plethora of good and bad, male and female role models in the Bible. I would add as well that many of the people we've put in either category are portrayed in a flat, static way. That is to say, we don't deal honestly with the ups and downs of their stories. I hope we can learn to embrace our faith ancestors' stories with all their wrinkles and flaws.

Thanks again,

Emily

Lu said...

Thank you. I needed to hear this today. I need to hear it every day, but especially today. Thank you.

Alycelee said...

Emily, what a great commentary on the distinctions of woman and our Identity in Him.
I just left Dorcas blog and read her post today about being a single woman. She talked about the struggles with her Identity and how God has used her in this process of teaching her WHO she is in Him.
I immediately came here and heard from you the celebration of being created by our God-WOMAN.
I invite you to read Dorcus this morning.
It can be found at: http://attorneynotes.wordpress.com/
Agape, Alyce

Dorcas Hawker said...

Emily -

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Now I found your blog, and am reading it for the first time too. Good insight. Thanks.

Dorcas

Endlessly restless said...

Aye, good one! Women are one of my favourite type of people.

As you say - created in the image - how could there be a mistake?

Alan Cross said...

Emily,

Encouraging words. I've seen your comments here and there and I've wondered who you were. It is good to have more women participating in our little corner of the blogosphere. Keep it up - I'll be linking to you as well!

Natalie said...

Thank you for sharing this! Very Maya Angelou-ish--love it! Found your blog via Paul's blog, as well, and I'm glad I did. Also raised Southern Baptist... :)

Emily Hunter McGowin said...

Natalie,

I'm pleased that you picked up on my allusion to Maya Angelou. I chose not to quote her because some are put off by her blatantly sensual references. But, I am edified by her appreciation of the female mind and body. Thanks for stopping by!

Grace and peace,

Emily

Janna said...

Thanks! I know that I've had these moments of thought. I'm thinking of sending your thoughts to some of my women friends...very powerful reminder. I traveled to your blog through a trail of those in that "blogsphere."