It’s 8:57 a.m.
My toddler is rolling around in his playpen with a runny nose, stepping merrily on the handful of Goldfish I threw in there without a bowl. My kitchen sink is full of dishes that need to be loaded into the dishwasher, which currently houses the clean dishes that have been waiting for me since yesterday. I miscalculated our grocery needs this month, and just came back from grabbing toilet tissue at the gas station. I wanted to have this article written by 9:00 a.m., but that is definitely not going to happen.
My husband just told me he invited guests over tonight, and when I freaked out about how disheveled my living room is, he offered to clean up when he got home. He knows I have a to-do list as long as my arm: PowerPoints and test-writing for the class I’m teaching tomorrow, writing, helping him research for a project, folding the laundry that’s been on top of the dryer for two days, and chasing my toddler around.
Instead of saying thank you, I cried, “Oh, great. That’ll look really good. Me sitting in the dirty living room all day and you coming home after a hard day’s work to do my job for me.”
He gave me a look and I knew what he was thinking: Look good for who?
I’m not sure. But I’m often living my life for an unseen audience.
It’s 9:02 a.m.
Many conservative Christian women have grown up with an ideal of what it means to be a “biblical woman.”
For me, that ideal centered around marriage and family. A godly woman was June Cleaver with the theological know-how of Martin Luther, a spotless home, a blameless spiritual walk, and a bedroom manner spicy enough to keep her husband from ever straying.
Ideals like these vary within the Christian community. Although purity is still given the highest premium, and some form of courtship is a must, maybe you imagined becoming a Christian mom and effortlessly balancing work, home, and PTA meetings. Perhaps you imagined being on the mission field and falling in love Elisabeth Elliot style.
Regardless of its variety, the general facets of biblical womanhood remained the same. Based on a select few applied passages (Proverbs 31, Titus 2, 1 Peter 3), many of us grew up seeing adulthood as synonymous with saying, “I do,” and assumed that we would find our deepest meaning in life as a virtuous wife.
But life interferes with our ideals. What if we don’t make it to the altar as pure as the driven snow? Or what if we don’t get married as early as we thought we would—or at all? Where do we turn when singleness stretches out longer than we imagined, and we’re forced to plan for our futures and operate in community apart from a spouse? What happens when we do get married and our husbands come to us with baggage that we never imagined? Or our children challenge us more than we thought they would? Or it’s harder than we expected to be fulfilled spending the bulk of our days without any adult interaction? How are we supposed to respond when the balancing act of work and home leaves us more Tazmanian devil than June Cleaver?
Enter: this column.
I can’t tell you how to be a perfect woman. As you’ve seen from my intro, I’m not the prototype. I’m still learning the art of making a to-do list, let alone checking off all the items on it. Some days, I’m winning at this whole wife, mom, work balance, but a lot of days are just like today.
Praise God that my home isn’t the center of my worth.
Praise God that Christ is enough when I feel like I’m drowning.
When I was asked to write this column, the cry of my heart was to encourage women like me—those who continue to wrestle with unrealistic and at times unbiblical expectations for what it means to be a woman. The message I share is not an original one, but I’m hoping that it departs enough from the norm to meet you where you are: Woman, you are enough.
Not because you are Wonder Woman (or Wakandan), but because Christ is enough. As he shapes you on this journey, I want you to be woman enough to put aside the burden of stereotypes and put on your freedom to grow in Christ.
I want to encourage women who have traded Christ-centered womanhood for something infinitely less superior. I want to speak to the embattled single, the weary young mom, and the disappointed wife. I want to remind you that biblical womanhood does not begin and end in Proverbs 31, and being the perfect specimen of femininity is neither a goal we were meant to strive for nor one that should be defined by our culture, even if that culture has made its way into the church.
I want to remind myself.
Let’s learn together how to lay our stereotypes and disappointments at the throne of grace and embrace a truer, fuller definition of womanhood than what we have been offered.
It’s 9:20 a.m.
I’m getting ready to start attacking my to-do list for husband, toddler, work, and home. I’m still learning how to balance it all, for God’s glory—not to bow before the altar of shame and perfection.
Woman, enough striving after wind. Woman, you are enough in the eyes of the Father, through Christ. Are you woman enough to lay your burdens down?
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