Average read time: 5–6 minutes.
(I know, I know, this title. But hear me out.)
Sometimes, I feel insecure in my gifts, strengths, and personality. And sometimes, especially because I’m female.
When I was in my teens, a central male figure in my life told me the following during an argument: “No man is ever going to want to marry you. You just say what you’re thinking too much, you’re too aggressive.” (If I’m remembering correctly, this was in response to my arguing that what this person was saying just wasn’t true, good, or right… because it wasn’t.)
Fast forward about ten years, and I’m married to the best human male on the planet. The other night we were talking before we fell asleep, and I was dreaming out loud about a book I want to write someday. I looked at Nick and said, “I mean, what if I actually write it? And it did well? If that ever happened, would you be okay with me doing book tours and speaking engagements?” (A girl can dream, am I right?)
Nick looked at me with a furrowed brow: “Why wouldn’t I be okay with it?”
I held back a smile when I said, “Because I’d be a… a powerhouse.”
We both looked at each other and paused, and then started hysterically laughing (I mean really laughing) because of two things:
- I used the word powerhouse to describe myself, and
- The fact that he would ever have a problem with it if I was one.
(Stick with me here, this isn’t another story about my marriage… I promise).
Good, secure, loving men are the unsung, behind-the-scenes champions of women’s equality and society’s acceptance of strong women.
There are men who say no to pornography because they believe it’s objectifying both the female and male form. There are husbands who work multiple jobs or extra hours so their wife can live out her vision and her joy of being a stay-at-home mother. There are dads who fight against the pressure society places on their daughter to fit the cultural beauty standard. There are older brothers who celebrate their younger sisters’ athletic and academic victories without once feeling insecure. There are husbands who take on extra housework so their wives can put energy into advancing a career she excels at. There are dads who stay at home with their children, clean the floors, and do the shopping, loving every second and leading their families well.
The fact that women still have to fight so hard for equality in the workplace makes me sad. The fact that women still have to downplay or set aside strong leadership qualities (assertiveness? being a visionary?) or their natural gifts to be accepted by male and female peers alike makes me sad.
And what makes me super-super sad is that there are so many good and kind men behind the scenes that work so hard to make the world a better place for their wives, friends, daughters, and sisters and often go unrecognized or uncelebrated. It’s disappointing that a father could really truly enjoy and want to stay home with his children, but could be viewed as a “weak provider” or as “not masculine” for doing so.
That all being said—although good and loving men can make us feel valued and march alongside us in the fight towards the acceptance of strong women—one Man legitimized my worth long ago.
Galatians 3:26-29 (ESV): “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Did you read that?
Do you know what it means?
If not, I think you should scroll back up and read it again. Right now.
It means the societal constructions of this world are absolutely unraveled by Christ. This is from the Bible, the actual Word of God. This was said in a time in history where women were NOT heirs, where slaves were purchased property of another person, and one could argue this also nullifies the social construction of race… neither black nor white, nor is there male and female.
As a Christian woman—although society often discounts my experience, gifts, and talents as unequal in value or unusable in some settings—I rejoice in the fact that Jesus Christ Himself has already deemed me worthy of value and love.
I mean, have you ever really read Proverbs 31? That woman is straight-up kicking butt and taking names at home and in the marketplace, and her husband celebrates it and her kids call her blessed because of it.
And have you ever looked into the powerful truth behind the adulterous woman in John 8? The punishment for adultery was death, so her life was considered absolutely worthless and worthy of destruction because of her sin. But Jesus said to her persecutors something along the lines of: You are all stinkin’ sinners who deserve death, so shut up (obviously some paraphrasing on my part there).
Sisters, He created some of us to be assertive and have strong leadership skills to influence and guide in our respective circles. He created some of us to crave being full-time moms and homeschool kiddos, changing the future by developing the next generation with intention. (Stay-at-home mama friends, you don’t need a career to legitimize to the world you work hard and are super smart.) He created some of us to be wildly creative and scientific and design tomorrow’s airplane or computer or satellite. He created some of us to teach, some of us to write, some of us to govern, some us to build businesses. And all for His glory.
And if God Himself—the Creator and wise and loving Ruler of the universe—declares that I am worthy the way He has made me, who is to dare say I’m not?
Who’s to dare say you or I are unworthy of love or value (read: “no man is ever going to want to marry you,” see first paragraph) because of the way God Himself designed our personalities or gifts?
We are who Jesus Christ says we are and that is that. No one can tell us any different.
If the Holy Spirit leads us to be a working mother, that’s okay. If God speaks to us and calls us to be a stay-at-home parent, that’s okay. If our husband does most of the dishes, that is okay. If we aren’t “domestic” and our cooking is absolutely horrible–GUESS WHAT?—that’s okay.
These things do not define us. The “guidelines” that our society places on women that just end up guilting, quieting, or incorrectly defining us are absolutely dissolved in Christ.
I am who God says I am alone.
1 Corinthians 12:4–11 (ESV): “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.”
That truth is for you and me, sister.
John 14:12 (ESV): “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.
That truth is for you and me, sister.
Mark 16:15 (ESV): “And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.’”
That truth is for you and me, sister.
Hebrews 1:3–4: “He [Jesus] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.”
Sister, if that’s who Jesus is, who cares what anyone else thinks?
So if you feel insecure in your gifts or your personality, remember who Christ says you are. If important male figure says something that isn’t true, remember what God’s own Word says about you. If society is screaming at you that your personality characteristics, beauty, or goals don’t fit the standard, remember God created you for His glory and to honor Him with the gifts you’ve been given.
One Man—God in human form—deemed us worthy, dearly loved, and created with purpose way way way way long ago.
Not only have I realized in the last couple of months I have a difficult time owning and living out my gifts (sometimes just because I’m insecure, and sometimes because I’m a female and insecure), but there have been so very many discussions (productive and nonproductive) regarding gender equality in the news and in homes lately due to the year 2016 and all it’s messed-up stuff, therefore I was inspired to write this.
If you’re reading this and you aren’t a Christian, you may not agree with all my statements or the Scriptures included above, or you may have thought about some points that I haven’t considered here. That’s okay. If you have questions or additional thoughts, send them along.
That being said, I absolutely believe that when Christ came to earth and died for our sins, He did so for all people because God absolutely loves His creation (us). If you don’t believe or you’ve heard that the Word of God doesn’t support healthy, strong women and actually legitimizes oppression of women, I suggest doing some more research or rereading of some passages through the lens of a historical context. Jesus was pretty darn progressive in His treatment of women and disproving of poor social constructions (constructions that didn’t reflect how God designed the world to be) during the time He was on earth, and pretty much lead the way in “anti-slut-shaming” and the acceptance of women as heirs of His Kingdom (in a time when they didn’t inherit)—and (really cool thing) after He rose from the dead, He chose to reveal Himself first to women, entrusting them to spread that Good News along. Not only that, there are many instances in the Old Testament where the Spirit of God empowered women to carry out His will or lead in some way, as well as countercultural laws God set in place that protected women and other marginalized peoples in ancient culture. I suggest taking a closer look.