“For a woman to not become all that she was meant to be is sin. She’s missing the mark. When she dumbs herself down to not threaten the insecure male, she is forfeiting all that God created her for.”
Today I read a blog post by Amy Young, who is asked over and over why she is still single. Her response when she is feeling up to it?
I am a Christian. I am a woman. I am a leader. Remove any one of those statements and I believe I would be married.
Wow. That three sentence answer is a powerful indictment on how we in the church raise woman to stunt themselves and men to look for stunted women. Think about her answer she would have a better chance to get married if she was:
- a Christian woman who is not a leader
- a woman leader who is not Christian
- a male Christian leader
Think about it. She is probably right. She goes on to assert two other points in the post:
1. If you marry before 30 your skills seems less threatening to Christian men.
2. There is a difference between having leadership skills and an actual leadership position.
Like many choices life offers, I didn’t fully realize what I was saying yes to when I stepped into public leadership at age 29. I now know that I was most likely trading leadership for partnership and that, though still beloved by many, I became threatening to potential “pursuers” because of the heavy and mixed messages sent about gifting, submission, headship, and gender. As my leadership blossomed into spiritual realms I became even more like kryptonite to some (both men and women): scary and powerful. It’s also confusing because it’s clear I’m good at what I do and people are drawn to me.
So, returning to the question as to why I am single, there is no simple, easy answer; but I do believe that, in part, it is because I am a woman and a leader and didn’t marry before it became apparent that I was not a behind-the-scenes leader but an up-front, out-loud, follow-me one.
I am thankful every single day to be married to Kent and that we got married as young as we did (18 for me and 20 for Kent). I have frequently thought when confronted with a story like this that I would have had a much more difficult time finding someone if I had waited until I was older to get married.
I had intended to write today about becoming all you were meant to be; about chasing and discovering the beauty of the undiscovered joy that is your gift to the world. I honestly wasn’t sure about how I was going to say it. I thought about a numbered list of witty and inspiring tidbits meant to inspire, I thought about a poem, I thought about just writing about my own experiences. But, as the Holy Spirit would have it, and as it happens to me so often, synchronicity and serendipity stepped in and I was given a gift by Melody Harrison Hansen who blogs at logicandimagination.com on facebook. She posted as her status the quote that you see at the top of this post and pointed me to a blog by Connie Jakab called Culture Rebel which was the source for her quote. She also had linked to the blog I quoted above from In A Mirror Dimly by Amy Young.
These two gifts (thanks Melody!) along with this snippet from Kathy Escobar’s post, ex-good-christian women, are my catalyst for today’s encouragement. Kathy wrote,
over time, we have been sold a bill of goods on what it means to be a christian woman. we’ve been domesticated, tamed, caged, and limited. we haven’t been properly valued or empowered or nurtured. we have been taught codependence and given the company kool-aid to drink.
but it’s changing. slowly, surely.
thankfully more and more women are joining the ranks of what i call “ex-good-christian-women.” it’s lonely at first but in the end, so freeing.
You know what?
The more I think about Amy Young’s post, the more I think about Tony’s quote, the more I reflect on the writings of the closest friends I’ve never met the more encouraged I get. Yes, you heard me correctly. Why exactly do I find encouragement in these things?
- I know more and more women who are choosing to be “ex-good-christian women”.
- I know more and more men, who like my husband are encouraging the women in their life to stop missing the mark by believing the lie that they cant be/do ________ because God doesn’t want them to. These same men are also helping to provide avenues and encouragement for these women to use and develop the gifts that they were afraid to even admit that they thought God gave them.
- More and more young women are being raised to believe that God wants them to use every gift and every skill that he has given them to serve and lead in any way possible.
- More and more young men are being raised not to fear strong women but to embrace them and appreciate them as the better and stronger companions that they are.
- More and more people, men and women are finding their voices and speaking up and out on behalf of the oppressed.
And today, I would like to encourage you my lovelies, male or female…
- You are amazing and have gifts buried inside you that are waiting to be discovered
- Those gifts will change you and others in ways you never dreamed possible
- Don’t give up just because you try something you have always wanted to do and it feels like the hand-me-downs of your childhood that you needed to “grow into”. Sometimes when a gift has been ignored on a shelf it needs more TLC to cultivate it than it would have taken to maintain it.
- Try things even if you aren’t sure they are for you. You just might surprise yourself. And if you don’t? So what. You will be richer for the experience.
- Husbands look for ways to encourage your spouse to be all they were created to be. Don’t be afraid of the strength she will find. Help her discover who she has always been and you will be rewarded with a richer life and a happier wife. I love my husband so much for encouraging me in my new found talents.
- Wives don’t be afraid of your gifts. It will not subtract from who you are as a wife or a mother. On the contrary, if you become who God designed you to be you will be a better partner and a better mom to both your sons and you daughters.
- Single women, you are enough. Don’t ever trade who God made you for a lie in order to have something less than all he has for you. Any man worth having will embrace YOU.
- Single men, you are glorious, walk in all God made you and never ask a woman to be less than God made her in order to be with you. A strong and gifted woman makes an amazing partner.
- Teach your children these things.
- And most of all, love one another. Truly love one another. Which means freeing the other to be who they were always meant to be. It is a beautiful thing.
- The Closest Friends I’ve Never Met and an Unladylike Manifesto (wordofawoman.com)
- In Defense of the ‘Unladylike’ Christian Woman (blogher.com)
10 thoughts on “So She Did. A Word of Encouragement to Women…and Men.”
Thanks for linking up to Amy’s post. It was really powerful!
Thanks Ed! That means a lot coming from you.
I love the way you added to the discussion and fleshed out thoughts in my head! As one of many lovlies, thanks!
Thanks Amy! I am honored.
There are lots of stories I could tell from the other side, about the resistance I faced as a guy trying to find an equal wife and not a marital slave. Or even now some of the comments I still get about not wearing the pants, being too lazy to get a job that won’t “force” my wife to work to pay the bills, etc.
Some of these changes you write about aren’t necessarily new – many of us have been doing them for over a dozen years or more. They just rarely get noticed by people anymore because eventually it becomes the norm for you to be the different one and you cease to notice it. We have been writing, living, teaching, living it all for so long with so few people paying attention to it that it is weird to see that change. Good, but just weird…