Archive | July 2012

What is this thing about strength and femininity being opposed?

If you are a strong woman who doesn’t let herself be pushed around easily, you may perceive yourself as someone to be edited out of God’s kingdom. After all, God only likes weak women, right? When you take a look around you at the women who seem to so easily sport the banner God-is-pleased-with-me and when you consider the authoritative input on biblical womanhood that you’ve received from the spiritually elite, you may find it very difficult not to be discouraged.

So many men and women in the church paint the  delight God finds in womankind using only one color; they recognize one type of personality, one temperament as fitting for the truly feminine. But, is this how God really feels? Does He discount you if you have not naturally been endowed with a poor and lowly spirit; an absence of confidence or ambition; a weak will? Is it really possible that He doesn’t have room for you, your gifts and natural ability in His will if you’re too boisterous or able?

No, I don’t think that God’s that small. I also can’t believe that He would create a woman that He didn’t already have a brilliant purpose for. Surely, if He has made you bold and decisive it was because He could use you to great advantage in a specific nook of His creation. However you have been made, there is something distinct of His character that He has embedded within you that He is intent on bringing out and utilizing to exalt Himself.

Now, let’s make it clear that being strong does not exempt you from the wonderful status of being one of God’s beloved masterpieces, but neither does your strength designate you as flawless, lacking nothing. Like every one of us, in order to truly be something, you cannot be a piece that does not have an intimate connection with your master. Your identity and destiny are contingent on the Master and you, the piece, being connected.

Although the Bible never condemns strength in women, it does witness to a certain strength that it regards as God-centered versus a lesser form of strength that is vain and woman-centered. Certainly, Scripture reveals God’s desires to make us whole and healthy–full of vigor and zest, even full of conviction and certainty–but it does not advocate what is nothing more than self-serving, bull-headed strength.

God has emphasized the ruling of a gentle spirit and a temperate heart as the fountain of our strength. He desires to make us women who know that God is the reason that we need not cower before the pressures of evil all around us. Even women who can devote ourselves to caring for others because we know Who has assumed the responsibility of caring for us. Only God can put such a spirit within us, but we can be certain He will, for His passion is to make us testimonies to the One who is able to make our hearts rest, even as we recognize all the limits of our own ability.

If you desire such strength, don’t hesitate to ask! God is waiting to make you full of His in everything.

Do you want to know what God calls beautiful, breath-taking?

Should you ever wonder what makes God’s heart

skip a beat

and soar in celebration

when He looks

at us,

consider the girl who hides inside your heart–

the one that worships Him

with her longings

and doesn’t forget that they are

really all about Him.

Her words are not especially eloquent,

her sentences not

particularly well-constructed,

but in her speech

she offers everything she is

and hopes for

to the One who made her and moves within her.

Father,” she says,

I want not just to know

the manner of guaranteeing

my beauty

and desirability

will last as long as I.

You know I want to look my best,

and someday attract

the prince

that You’ve prepared

for me,

but more than these

is my wish

to know

the One who desires me

more than all the rest.

I’ve gotta know

Your heart,

Lord,

and I’m willing to sever my ties

to anything that will

get in the way

of falling more in love with You

today.

Make me beautiful

in Your presence,

I pray,

but may Your beauty

ever overshadow me.

I won’t be satisfied with my beauty

if, to have it, I must forfeit

the wonder

of beholding You.

For me, beauty dies when it is separated

from You;

I don’t enjoy a thing that is connected to it

without You.

I want You to know, dearest Friend,

that if I need to face my own lack of beauty

to truly discover Yours,

than I want to do it.

It’s more important to me to know

that You conquer all

than to never know the nature

of my own weakness.

You are fully able to make every

exposure of weakness in me

a blessing

more distinct than the

fable of my untested strength.

That’s my God.

You were wondering what “beautiful” looked like for you?

The carefully conceived model-representations of beauty that surround us, calling out for us to conform to their image in order to truly matter, can make many of us ache for beauty that is worthy of proper recognition. We feel compelled to become models ourselves, copies of who we already know to be winners in the beauty-pageant that life has become. Competing simply as ourselves is inconceivable and absurd. Should we attempt it, we must answer all manner of questions about who we think we are.

If we will not accept the beauty protocol the world gives us, and the personal supports it lends us, we are under obligation to find another source of identity. You may not think that another one exists. I used to agree with you…until my beauty, according to worldly standards, fell below the mark qualifying me for beauty-candidacy. When I had reason to believe my hopes of beauty in the world’s eyes were over, finding a new way of viewing myself was essential.

The mirror, the scale, the complements I received (or failed to receive) could not determine who I was anymore. Whether I was beautiful or not had to depend on an absolute standard more consistent with the real me and what I could reasonably expect to become. I didn’t know it at first, but what I was looking for was the Person who made me. I needed Him to tell me–loud and clear–who I was, and what made me beautiful, in a way that was unchanging and true.

I wanted to be able to recognize beauty as a gift that I didn’t have to try to control; a part of me that I didn’t have to prove the existence of or try to adjust to the form of beauty that was popularly acceptable for the moment. I was no longer willing to pay the price of straining to be beautiful. I wanted God’s work in me to reveal beauty on the inside in such a deep way that it couldn’t help but spill out to everyone on the outside. I didn’t want my looks to be the only thing that defined me anymore. I wanted to trade in my long-standing resentment of God’s design for me and discover, for the first time, why He thought I was a cool idea.

If this sounds like something you’d like God to uncover in your own life, may I encourage you to let go of the slim ideas the world has sold you about beauty? Let God enter your life in a rich new way and positively surround you with beauty. When He introduces you to beauty as it really is, you will never be the same, girlfriend!