Archive | August, 2011

“Girly girl” vs. Femininity

27 Aug

The other day, I was able to attend a conference put on at SBTS by the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood concerning “Gender in the 21st Century”. Unusurprisingly, several of the lectures focused on defining a correct understanding of Biblical femininity, contrasted with what Western (particularly American) culture proclaims is truly “feminine”. The lectures and discussions gave me some food for thought, as I recognized that my view of being “womanly” is not exactly in line with the culture, but thankfully actually falls more in sync with what the Bible teaches — and this has never really been an issue or struggle for me, as it apparently is for many American Christian young women (or so the conference declared — and my personal observations verify).

Why is it that I see “womanhood” so differently than most of my American counterparts, believers and unbelievers alike? I’m not sure there was any radical intentionality on my parents’ part to craft a drastically different view in me of what it meant to be a woman. I think the bottom line is, I grew up around women who lived a much more Biblical picture of real womanhood, and life’s circumstances quite frankly sheltered me from the brainwashing of Western media and society at large for the most part.

The African, Moldovan and missionary women of my childhood were strong, capable, hearty women, who gave a wholesome definition to femininity. They could swing a hoe in the fields, manage a large household for weeks and months on end while their husbands were off in the bush somewhere, school children, muddle through oppressive heat or cold, bring in added income with odd jobs and skilled crafts, and beautify the spaces where they lived and worked with meager resources and lots of love, humor, creativity, and joy. They were women who saw their life’s work to be that of being helpers to their husbands, raising children, and managing their homes well — and they found joy, not oppression, in this, despite all the challenges, hardships, and difficult circumstances they often faced. They embodied Proverbs 31 heart, mind, body and soul.

And while they enoyed a good hairdo, nice jewelry, pretty clothes, an occasional manicure, nice home decorations and other “girly” things, they weren’t enslaved to those things. As a child, I can’t think of any significant grown woman in my life who was obcessed with outward appearances, always at the hair salon and gym, spending gobs on regular manicures/pedicures, clothes, accessories, makeup, and all the other things. I can’t remember any wives I knew nagging their husbands, or complaining because they “didn’t have” or “wanted to get” such and such. I don’t remember ever hearing a woman say, “I deserve a man who…” or “I ought to be treated like a queen.” No diva-tudes. The ones I knew faithfully “put their hands to the plow” and worked alongside their husbands to help support them in any way they could — in life, at home, in ministry. They battled fear when they had many real causes to be afraid both physically, mentally and spiritually, and strove to trust the sovereignty of God in sometimes terrifying and uncertain circumstances. They consistently modeled the counsel found in 1 Peter 3:3-6, “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. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.”

And to their credit, they raised daughters in much the same spirit. I can’t think of a one of my “national” friends or MK sisters who now are “divas” enslaved to outward appearances. They have become women of trustworthy character, who bless their friends, families and acquaintances with their strong and humble femininity. They aren’t afraid to look “cute” as they can afford to, or to get their hands “dirty” with the unpleasantries that come in the course of caring for homes and people. They are able to stand apart from many of the cultural hindrances to godliness and femininity, and offer insightful wisdom, encouragement, and grace to those life brings their way.

So, to all my missionary “aunts” and “mothers”, and MK “sisters” and friends along the way — you are beautiful, and I am grateful for the women you are and the example you set. You shine like stars of true beauty and feminine godliness in an increasingly darkened culture that has lost its way of what it means to be a real woman. It is my prayer that who you are will spark a hunger in every woman you meet and every young girl you befriend to set aside the foolishness of pursuing the “outward beauty” this culture so idolizes and that so quickly fades and to pursue instead the true beauty that cannot fail — that of a gentle and Godward heart.

©2011 Reformation Lady and Chandra E. Wellman. All rights reserved.