Lately I have done a lot of self-examination.
I think it comes with being in your 20s. Those interesting, yet overwhelming questions like “Who am i?”, or “Where will I go in life?” blah blah…they can haunt us all–but they are definitely making themselves known to me.
One day as I was thinking these crazy amazing things, I asked myself Well what are you now? What are you identifying with at this very moment? I came up with some stuff “I am an artist. I am a coffee shop manager. I am some one who likes to read..” These are cool–so many experiences in my life branch off of these things about me, but then BAM!–one really struck a chord with me.
I am a woman.
W0W! No surprise there!
And you’re right–I don’t wake up and think “Hey, i’m a woman.” because it is as natural to me as breathing. I am very thankful for that. Not in an aggressive feminist way, but in a wholesome way. However, I desired to truly know what that identity meant to me.
Not long after the “woman” thoughts my best friend’s mom just happened to give me the book Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. If you have already read this, then some of this will be familiar. But if not, ladies, I CANNOT STRESS TO YOU HOW MUCH YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. This book has changed my life. I pulled some of my favorite passages from it to convey its message. Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, please follow along and if anything, just appreciate the sheer beauty that this married couple has put together.
“Call it the Human Mission-to be all and do all God sent us here to do. And notice-the mission to be fruitful and conquer and hold sway is given both to Adam and to Eve. ‘And God said to them…’ Eve is standing right there when God gives the world over to us. She has a vital role to play; she is a partner in this great adventure. All that human beings were intended to do here on earth-all the creativity and exploration, all the battle and rescue and nurture-we were intended to do together. In fact, not only is Eve needed, but she is desperately needed.When God creates Eve, he calls her an ezer kenegdo. ‘It is not good for the man to be alone, I shall make him [an ezer kenegdo]’ (Gen. 2:18 Alter). Hebrew scholar Robert Alter, who has spent years translating the book of Genesis, says that this phrase is ‘notoriously difficult to translate.’ The various attempts we have in English are “helper” or “companion” or the notorious “help meet.” Why are these translations so incredibly wimpy, boring, flat…disappointing? What is a help meet, anyway? What little girl dances through the house singing “One day I shall be a help meet?” Companion? A dog can be a companion. Helper? Sounds like Hamburger Helper. Alter is getting close when he translates it “sustainer beside him”. The word ezer is used only twenty other places in the entire Old Testament. And in every other instance the person being described is God himself, when you need him to come through for you desperately.”
― Stasi Eldredge, Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul
“A woman in her glory, a woman of beauty, is a woman who is not striving to become beautiful or worthy or enough. She knows in her quiet center where God dwells that he find her beautiful, has deemed her worthy, and in him, she is enough.”
“Because she bears the image of God. She doesn’t have to conjure it, go get it from a salon, have plastic surgery or breast implants. No, beauty is an essence that is given to every woman at her creation.”
― John Eldredge, Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul
“Jesus said, “Do not throw your pearls to pigs” (Matt. 7:6). By this we don’t think he was calling some people pigs. He was saying, “Look—be careful that you do not give something precious to someone who, at best, cannot recognize its beauty, or at worst, will trample on it.” Consider your feminine heart and beauty your treasure, your pearls.”
I took this book with me everywhere for a week and dove in whenever I had a moment to spare. Every story or description of women was like a revelation to me. I was kicking myself for not reading it sooner, considering it was written nearly ten years ago. Anyways, so Captivating really confirmed the woman identity examination.
So what did I learn about being a woman?
It means we are beautiful.
Women have a beauty that imprints on us as human beings. We are beautiful. And it’s not in vain. When I see a passionate business woman, teacher or athlete it is not only inspiring, but it is beautiful. A woman’s beauty captures our eyes AND our hearts.Men can be passionate, inspiring and strong but that beauty aspect is not as apparent. Sunsets, oceans, canyons, all the seven wonders of the world–still I believe nothing is more pulling than a woman who is freely living in her God-given beauty. It’s not a physical characteristic, but it is merely our way. Realizing this is so liberating.
We are precious.
I grew up with three brothers and it was no secret that I was treated differently because I was “the girl”. Sometimes I would pout about things I was not allowed to do, but it was just fine for my brothers to do. If one of them was with me, then that changed everything–I was protected. In this world, we protect precious things. This is not to say that we are frail and incapable. We are very capable of a lot! But because we are precious, we are treasured.
We are graceful.
I will never forget one time when I was about 12 years old. I was eating cookies and milk at the table, just my dad and I. When I finished, I took the back of my hand and wiped my mouth. My dad just looked at me very firmly and reacted, “Girls aren’t supposed to do that.” I was only twelve. We were not at a fancy dinner outing. It was just an afternoon snack, but how I acted as a girl still mattered. This example may seem silly. It’s just proper table manners, right? But it has stuck with me. Why did he make it a point to use the word girl? Why does me being a girl make a difference? Because girls have this certain elegance about them. And sometimes that means mundane things are actually very enamoring.
We are strong.
Mentally, emotionally and even physically–women are graced with a beautiful strength about them.Because I am a woman, I have the possibility of being a mother. Mothers hold an incredible amount of strength in them. Birthing, nurturing, raising–such demanding, strong, important tasks. As time goes on, God reveals more and more the capacity and strength within women in society and culture. A century ago, my voice as a woman might not have been recognized. Sometimes I find myself day dreaming about simpler times..times with more letters and less text messages. Then I am brought back to a thankful reality where my voice as a woman has more opportunity.
I know I have much more to discover about my identity. Each day I am learning more about who I am created to be. On my greatest day, I am some one who inspires some one to pursue their passions and loves people to the best of my ability. On my toughest day, I am some one who cannot find a point in their passion at all. But on both of those days, I am still a woman and for that my heart sees reason to keep singing.