March 13, 2019
I wasn’t your ideal little girl.
I was nothing dainty and princess-like, or dressed in all shades of pink. It was to the frustration of my mother that I cannot keep my back straight, and that I moved a little too much for a girl. When I had to play Mary for our school’s Christmas program, all she could say was that I was the sprightliest mother of Jesus she’d ever seen.
My grade school teachers were equally exasperated that I couldn’t stay put and failed to keep my legs crossed during hour-long classes. I always couldn’t wait for classes to be over so I could finally change into pants and play on the monkey bars.
To this day, I probably disappoint some people for the kind of girl that I am.
Magazines probably won’t approve of my skincare routine (or the lack thereof), and they probably find my legs to be fat and chunky.
To some religious circles I might come across as too opinionated, and not enough of that “gentle and quiet spirit.”
On the other hand, some feminists might find me wanting when it comes to the defense of our gender. They, perhaps, wished that I didn’t practice biblical submission in marriage.
The truth is if we define who we are as women based on what the world thinks, we’d go crazy.
While there may be merits to respecting certain cultural traditions regarding gender, some of them miss the point of who we are supposed to be. The only way to know how we are to act and be as women is through knowing our Creator and Designer and hearing from Him. After all, it was His idea to create women. There is quite a lot to learn about His design, purpose, and heart for us, simply by the way He made the very first of our kind, Eve.
God had just finished making the land, seas, skies, stars, sun, all the animals, and Adam, whom he called to be in charge of them all.
But then, for the first time, after a series of pronouncements that all was good, God saw something that wasn’t good: Adam needed a companion. There was a whole lot of work to be done and one man alone couldn’t accomplish it all by himself.
So, he was given a woman, a helper suitable for him. This is actually how the whole idea of a woman started. She was made for Adam to be his helper, a suitable partner to do the work that God ordained for him.
Which means, a woman is essentially endowed with strength. Will you agree with me when I say that anyone who is defined to be of help is a person of strength? That she is an asset, not a liability; an addition and not a burden?
But we often forget this in a fallen world that says women are inferior to men. Many times, the Bible is even blamed for a few verses here and there, because others completely ignore the context in which they were written. There is no time to discuss how our faith has redefined the value of women, but let me say that a careful reading of the Bible shows how women are important to the mission of God.
Think about the Proverbs 31 woman alone and you see that while her primary responsibilities had to do with the home, her role was crucial to the success of her husband, family, and the stewardship of their resources.
The Bible gives us examples of women who exhibit such qualities.
Queen Esther saved an entire generation of Israelites from execution.
Then there’s Mary, who birthed the Savior in a manger without professional assistance. (There was no midwife nor a doula!)
Many of Paul’s supporters were also women, and they each went about participating in ministry in their own way.
Women, let’s face it, we are differently wired from men. Biologically and emotionally speaking, we are not like them at all and this is not a bad thing. God’s mandate for the very first man and woman is to be fruitful, multiply, increase, and basically take care of the whole earth (Genesis 1:28). Now that wouldn’t really be feasible if it were all men doing the job, don’t you think so?
Men and women are different, alright. But among women, there are also differences. While all women are called forth for a mission and originally endowed with strength, I think that the expressions of our calling may vary largely along a spectrum. Not all women speak softly, not all women want to wear dresses, and certainly not all women want to play sports or just be focused on a career.
But if that’s the case, you may ask, how do we know what we are supposed to be? Like, how do I know I am supposed to be Carla, wife, mother, freelancer? How would I know if I should have stayed single and aggressively pursued a corporate career instead? In other words, how do I know the very unique answer to the question, “Who am I?”
Elisabeth Elliot actually answers this by revising the question. “Who am I?” is apparently the wrong question and instead, we should be asking, “Whose am I?”
“So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.” (Genesis 2:21)
As we go back to the creation of the very first woman, we must remember that God made her while Adam was fast asleep. The man that the Lord had tasked to name all the living creatures of the earth also had the privilege to give the name Woman. However, that was all he could do. He could only go as far as giving a label, but not create her, nor define her. That precious work and intimate moment was for and by God and God alone.
Similarly, labels abound for all of us today. Mankind has a way of calling us in ways that may or may not ring true to the intentions of God, so we must always remember that only He can ultimately give us our very life, identity, and purpose.
See, God did not bother to record how tall or short, plump or skinny, fair or brown Eve was, but the Bible says for sure that she is the glory of man (1 Corinthians 11:8). We can only know how God is calling each one of us to express this glory when we have an intimate relationship with Him. We must be able to tap that place where only God is present, to speak to us about our mission and design. Unless we take the time to regularly tune out the rest of the world and talk to God as though all are fast asleep, we will fail to be confident that our existence is something that God personally designed for a divine purpose.
Creation was altogether wonderful, you can say that. However, humanity fell short of the glory of God. As the story goes, the woman took a bite of the fruit that God specifically said not to eat, and all creation was damned. Sin entered, and it took away the original purity and innocence that the world once had.
Ladies, we are created for a mission and are designed for glory, but we must not forget that we are also broken. Eve is the only woman who had the privilege to exist untainted by sin, and even that fact was not able to help her from being deceived by the enemy. She became vulnerable to the wrong character and failed to consult Adam, who directly received word about the tree. (Adam also failed to warn her. This is why this is just as much man’s sin, as he failed to lead and protect Eve at such a crucial moment.) Above all, she forgot to call on to God.
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.
1 Peter 3:3,4
Now suddenly, these verses make more sense. What we’ve always read to be an attack against beauty and personality, is actually an issue between the appearance and the heart, or our dependence on the physical and the material versus our dependence on God. Remember that Eve was attracted to the tree because it was good for food, a delight to the eyes, and could make her wise (Genesis 3:6). Her desire to adorn herself apart from God got the best of her, and consequently, all the rest of us.
And through all the arrogance of mankind to prove that we don’t need the Lord, God still provided a way out. He knew this won’t work. He knew it so well that in the middle of the curses, He gives Adam and Eve the promise of a Mighty Seed that will overcome the enemy. This Mighty Seed is the Son of God, Jesus. He is the ultimate solution that the Father gave to get us back on track.
So ladies, make no mistake, but even womanhood is deeply reliant on the work of Christ. It is exercising vulnerability in the right places and calling self-sufficiency an outright lie. We cannot live on our own confidence apart from Him, no matter how strong and purposeful and glorious we think ourselves to be. But there is no limit to what God can do in and through a woman whose heart and soul is fully submitted to Christ!
*Read Genesis 2:18–23; Genesis 3:1–24