Wednesday, August 23, 2006

This Matter of Femininity

Princess. Dancer. Singer. SHEERA. I vaguely remember, as if a mere dream, of aspiring to be one of these at some point or another, but it was so long ago. As I grew into early adolescence, those awkward teen years seemed even more awkward than most. I was an 11-year-old being raised in a house of boys. There I was, a young girl torn between glittery nail polish and my big brother’s musical selections. I wanted to be just like him: listen to all of his preferred music, tell his jokes, watch his favorite movies. I never really understood why I was so different than all of the other girls my age, especially those who were my dearest of friends. The Lord is sovereign over all…even over events such as divorce when His hand may not be so visible. I hold no bitterness or enmity toward my parents, although there was a day when such feelings were at the forefront of my mind.

“Little girls are looking for role models to see what it means to be a woman. . . . There is a lot that God has put in our nature and character as men and women that we need to recognize and nurture in a way that is honoring to Him.” This is an excerpt from Dr. Russell Moore on a day here recently when he was filling in on Dr. Mohler’s radio program for a show entitled “Barbie, Lara Croft, and Biblical Femininity.” Many women also in attendance at Southern are there for some type of women’s ministry. While that has not been the primary focal point of that to which I have been called, I have recently been thinking on womanhood and femininity. What does it mean to be a woman who exhibits the glory of God? I wasn’t raised up in a way that encouraged godly womanhood nor was I taught those things that make up the character of a woman of dignity, worth, and value. While my father had good intentions and my mother was absent during many crucial times of growth, I was just confused. I did, however, have models in the church. At a very poignant time, the young age of fourteen, the Lord began bringing women into my life whom I will forever hold dear. They were not models of morality, self-esteem, or those things which constitute today’s modern, confident woman. Instead, they were women who were the first to admit that their righteousness was not their own. They were of such deep influence because they gently and humbly lived the truth that they were not worthy of such mercy and grace. I was often puzzled by them, and at times even in contention with them inwardly, because they were in stark contrast to the world’s standards of womanhood. I never had a gentle and quiet spirit, yet they were a constant source of such biblical, Christ-exalting femininity. I never wanted to be a nurturing mother, but I began to see that there was something more to being a truly good mother than making sure there was dinner on the table. And motherhood to them was not about putting their needs first, but continually dying to self in order that their relationship to their husbands would be one of daily sacrifice and sanctification.

Now I am of the age they were when our paths were ordained to cross, and I find myself more mindful than ever of how much I still have to learn and grow. I don’t know how to cook. As a matter of fact, I often get nervous at the thought. I have had little experience in caring for young children, and I am a scatterbrained mess when it comes to keeping my home in order. Knowing what I know, having had the Lord reveal what He as regarding biblical womanhood, I can’t even begin to imagine myself trying to teach a little girl what it means to be a woman of grace and femininity in the eyes of God. I never had it in my own home growing up, so how I can I expect to implement such grace to my own children? I can, however, tell you what I do know. I am fervently committed to my home being one in which the Word is spoken and lived out, and that begins with my relationship to my future husband and how we relate to one another. I cannot entertain the thought of being a godly woman and mother in the home without first knowing my relationship to Christ and how that is depicted and manifested in how I relate to my husband. A key problem I think I will have is that of allowing him to treat me well and protect me. I was not protected nor was I treated as a young girl growing into a woman of dignity and grace.
That very grace is what sustains and keeps me persevering as His child and as a woman who is hopefully teachable and receptive to hearing wise counsel from others. I still have such a long way to go in this matter of biblical womanhood and femininity, but I trust that He will accomplish all He has purposed and promised. Praise be to God the Father and our Lord, Jesus Christ.

"This is what I understand to be the essence of femininity. It means surrender. Think of a bride. She surrenders her independence, her name, her destiny, her will, herself to the bridegroom in marriage." ~Elisabeth Elliot

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