In my last post, I mentioned the “perfect Christian woman” model that has come up in so many of my conversations lately.
Check out this poem:
Look at me, look at me, look at me now.
You can do what I do, if you knew how!
I study the scriptures one hour each day;
I bake and upholster and scrub, and pray.
I keep all commandments you see, quite completely;
I speak to my little ones gently and sweetly.
Design all their clothes and sew all they wear,
Drive them to practice and cut all their hair!
I encourage respect for the local authorities;
Order each goal to be done by priorities.
I play the piano, bless all with my talents.
My toilets all sparkle! My check books are balanced!
One day a week every child gets a date;
I attend all my meetings—on time, never late!
I’m taking a class on the teachings of Paul,
But that is not all! Oh no, that is not all:
I track my bad habits till each is abolished;
Iron every t-shirt. My toenails are polished!
Our evenings at home are ever delightful;
The projects I plan are both fun and insightful.
Up early each morning, which isn’t a shock;
I know all the names of the youth on my block.
I read to my children! I help all my neighbors.
I bless the community too, with my labors.
I exercise daily, cook menus gourmet;
My taxes are filed on the very first day!
I have a home business to help make some money;
I always look beautifully groomed for my honey.
There’s more…but it makes me nauseous to keep reading. It’s supposed to be funny. Because at the end it says that she said all these things were easy and then she dropped dead. Ah haha hahaaaaa. Spare me.
But really, I think that while every person I know would gag at the thought of that woman, many of us have her, in some way, shape or form, in our minds as what we should be, never will be, and don’t really want to be.
In a random article I read a while back (that I can’t remember the rest of so I’m not going to cite it) a woman talking about being in women’s ministry said something along the lines of, “As I observed those flawless women and then compared myself to them, I thought to myself, ‘If this is what it means to be a successful women’s minister, then I clearly don’t measure up.” That statement is one that I can honestly say I’ve felt multiple times in multiple ministry situations. It’s a statement that I hear a lot of women saying in some form or another. “If that is what Christian women are supposed to be, then I guess I’m not a very good Christian woman.” Or, “If I’m supposed to look/act/feel like that woman looks/acts/feels all the time, then I don’t think I can sign on to this Christian thing.”
On one of my coffee dates, I decided that I think there are four types of Christian women. The first comes on Sunday morning, isn’t involved and no one really knows her. The second is a woman who looks like that “perfect Christian woman” who is just putting on a front. She acts like someone who has it all together but she isn’t being honest with the people around her, and perhaps isn’t even being honest with herself. The third is a woman who looks like that “perfect Christian woman” to people around her, and she actually is just that type of person. She’s honest about who she is, what she’s struggling with, and how the Lord is working in her life, and she just “fits” that model. The fourth is a woman who looks at those other three types of women and thinks, “Holy shit, I don’t fit in.”
It seems like most of the women I end up having coffee with are hanging out in that fourth category with me. And I want to talk about how ridiculously crazy this whole thing is.
When those of us who are tomboyish or loud mouthed and opinionated or just plain weird look at those other women wishing, on one hand that we could be like them and hating, on the other hand that they act like that; we do ourselves a great disservice. The art of comparison isn’t an art at all. It’s a lie.
What is the “perfect Christian woman”? Where did she come from? Who made this chick up? It certainly wasn’t Jesus.
I’d love to spend hours writing an in depth study of all of the women in the Bible whose stories I love, but quite frankly, you should be amazed that I’ve even written a new post in the first place, and secondly, I’m not in LDI anymore so I refuse to write any more papers. It would be helpful to look at a few women’s stories from the Bible, though, to see what type of woman has been set before us as an example.
Eve: I would be remiss to exclude her from this list. She is the first woman, the only woman to ever experience perfect (though fleeting) unity with God. Eve was created because, unlike every other created being that God had made, it was not good for Adam to be alone. She was created as the only suitable helper to Adam, and was made in his image and in the image of God. She listened to the lie of the serpent, fell into temptation, and changed the course of human history forever. Her curse: pain in childbearing and a desire against her husband. In the midst of her rebellion, God named her, clothed her, provided for her, and protected her from remaining in an eternal state of rebellion against Him. (Genesis 2-3)
Hagar: God had promised Abram that he would be made into a great nation but his wife, Sarai, had bore him no children. In desperation, Sarai suggested Abram impregnate her servant Hagar. Once Hagar became pregnant, Sarai dealt so harshly with her that Hagar fled into the wilderness. It was in the wilderness that Hagar (whose name means “stranger”) received a comforting message. Her son would be called Ishmael because the Lord had heard her affliction, and he would be “a wild donkey of man” who would rule over all his kinsman. It was at this moment that Hagar called the Lord, “The God of seeing” because He looked after her so kindly. (Genesis 16)
Rahab: A prostitute who single-handedly saved two of Joshua’s spies by hiding them, lying to the authorities, and helping them to escape. The opportunist prostitute that she was, she took the opportunity to ask for kindness from them and protection for her family. After the spies escape, her family is protected, and she goes down in history as the prostitute who, “did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.” (Joshua 2, Hebrews 11:31)
Ruth: The daughter-in-law of Naomi; Ruth loved Naomi so much that she left her home and went to Bethlehem with Naomi. When offered the opportunity to leave, Ruth told Naomi, “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” Ruth then got the attention of a kinsman of Naomi’s, Boaz. Through working diligently in his fields and lying at his feet (you should listen to the message I spoke about that here), Ruth managed to land a covenant from Boaz and a place in the lineage of Jesus Christ. (Ruth)
Bathsheba: Beautiful, naked, and married. Adored by King David, she fell into temptation and slept with him even though she was married to another man. After King David had her husband killed and learned that their night of passion left them with a child, the Lord prophesied, “I will bring evil upon you out of your own house.” The child died after birth. After all of that, God had mercy on them, and blessed the two of them with a child named Solomon. Bathsheba would be remembered not only for her early indiscretion, but also for her wisdom and leadership as a Queen Mother. (2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 1 Chronicles)
Mary, JC’s mom: Young, betrothed, and a pregnant virgin, Mary’s story starts with an incredible act from God and an incredible amount of trust and obedience from her and her betrothed. She gave birth to our Lord and Savior and was herself a disciple of Christ. She had to believe in Jesus’ divine nature before anyone else because He, for 9 months, dwelled in her womb. Her opportunity to be the mother of Christ was not because of any extraordinary actions from her. It was a gift.
Like I said before, I could go on and on. The Bible is full of so many great stories and so many women who had incredible opportunities to experience the Lord in unique ways. While their stories are all unique, there are a few things that are common amongst them all:
–God moved into their lives before they made the decision to act for Him. He always moves first.
–God gives them the opportunity to respond. These women find themselves in crazy situations: desperate, despised, hopeless, and in order to be rescued; they need to respond in obedience to God.
–God blesses them greatly, even in the midst of their failures. Their blessings are not because of their value, worth, or righteousness. They are fully gifts. And they are given to bring about His glory, to show off more of Himself, and to continue to reveal His plan for redemption.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t see anything about quiet, well-groomed, cupcake baking, perfectly manicured, housewives. Not to say that those things aren’t good. If you’re one or all of those things—that’s superb. The point is that women tend to sit a certain type of woman on a pedestal and look at her as though she is the “right” kind of Christian woman. But there is no “right” kind of Christian woman other than the one who sees God moving, responds faithfully, and receives His blessings for His glory alone.
That’s it. See where God is moving. Respond faithfully. Use your gifts for His glory.
Well, I’m sure there’s more than that. But I’d like to say that as far as the “perfect” Christian woman goes, those are three pretty important things. Your personality, your hobbies, your ability to cook, make babies, and desire or non-desire for staying at home are just personal preferences.
Embrace who you are. Embrace who the Lord has made you to be. Whether you fit that “perfect” model or not. Redefine “Christian” woman as a woman who does those three things. Stop comparing how you look or act or feel. Stop looking at other women and wishing that you had what they had. Stop looking at other women and judging them because they don’t have what you have. Stop looking at women that have problems like there’s something wrong with them and start loving their honesty and their willingness to share. Stop calling yourself “outside” or “inside” if it’s based on anything other than a faithful love of Christ.
Be the Christian woman that you are. That’s perfect enough.