Have you ever felt unloveable because you knew that others saw you as different? I think it’s high time we in the church talk a little more about femininity.
When I was younger, I always wanted to be like the awesome ladies I saw downtown at the Lawrence Kansas farmer’s market. Wearing clothes that flattered their bodies and small traces of makeup if any, they made me wonder for a long time now what I would be and look like growing up. I always wanted to be strong like my mom, who gardens and runs greenhouses. Never wanted to stop writing. Nearly always believed in volunteer work. That sort of thing.
To me, the image of the silver haired older woman with a thick braid down her back resonated in a way that made sense and had just as much to do about being fruitful and muliplying as it did having an easy hair solution. Me and my twin sister grew up largely outside before we got into middle school. This was the identity that I had going into junior high, that I wanted to be like women who knew how to grow plants. The idea of prosperity and abundance from femininity has always been part of me.
If young men want to act like their fathers, then young women often want to look like their mothers. Overweight for years, I always hoped I would be able to blossom into someone who looked like my mother. Years of depression and medication weight aside, the heart of that priority just had to do with being strong. Being able to work hard. Being able to provide for my family as a mom, which is still definitely provision. Before I turned into a teenager, I was a lot more sure of what I wanted to look like, and it had more to do with the community you create around others than my face. And then reality sucked me under.
It’s funny that ideals of submission are seen apart from strength. Wisdom is submission before God, after all. Anymore, I don’t see how the church can afford to insinuate that you don’t need both genders actively working to build a family, and the church. Being a woman means that my perspective is sometimes very different than predominantly male members of leadership, which means I finds aspects of God’s character that aren’t typically noticed. Being beloved as a woman in Christ means that I can learn and teach personally on what it means to be strong like Zion, and I can be respectful and kind as well as having the capacity to explore deeper aspects of theology. Being a Christian woman has been a source of strength in my life, and by the understanding of that strength as holy, I live to have the opportunity to bless others. The strength doesn’t come from me, but by God, I can make it mulitply. Femininity when it is strong is not complaining, it is not shallow, and it is a source of blessing to those around it. In order to grow a stronger church family and lay the foundation for families that reciprocally honor God’s word, I think we need to spend more time talking about that.
When we are made strong in God, we are made beautiful. Traditional aspects of womanhood can’t be the only thing that defines what it means to be a woman who honors Christ. Women should have the freedom to honor God with their full hearts and minds in a way that doesn’t hide under stereotypes. If you don’t have kids, you can still honor God. If you want to live a life for him only, you should have a place here.
I’ve felt unfeminine and not pretty enough various times in my life, but under Christ I feel perfect. Like my sins have been forgiven of me. Like I was forsaken, and finally have a home. That I have someone who would never forsake me. It really isn’t up to humans to restrict who should be able to come to Christ. And truth be told, I think there are plenty of men who would like a partner who is passionate about scripture, who cares about the great commission, who isn’t afraid to encounter opposition, who can be made low when it God has to deliver discipline, and who strengthens her marriage and family by her own active choices. As women, we can be making those choices all the time. Above all, the way Christ loves any of us is beyond marriage and the love of other humans. We should be free to find strength in that.