Wonderwoman?

Although I do it to myself all the time, I can’t bear it when I’m compared to other people. Especially other women. I’m a fraudulent female, a feminine fake. I’ve got an idea of what femininity might look like, but it’s a regurgitated mass of semi-biblical teaching, half-baked feminism, mid-30s home-economics manuals, Barbara Cartland heroines, magazine articles and perfume ads. What this adds up to is a mass of contradictions that make me feel that I’m four steps behind. Like those horrendous aerobics classes where everyone’s going one way and you’re going the other, still staggering from the last twirl.
It’s not that I haven’t had practice. For starters, I went to a girl’s school. That was ok (at least in parts), but I was never on the inside of those intimate gaggles of oestrogen, humming with secret beauty and boy potions. I don’t like rom-coms or anything sad, (music, film or books. Which cuts out more than you might think). I’m not touchy-feely – I need prior warning before displays of public (and sometimes private) affection. Small dogs make me gag. Worst of all, I don’t like Jane Austen. Even clowns are better than cheerleaders.
So it is with great joy that I share with you the ‘twelve factors that make up the perfect woman’..
Ahem. She is..

well-educated

a hearty eater

loves football

an excellent driver

a domestic goddess

effortlessly slim

make-up free

the proud owner of a pert bum

petite

has a fantastic cleavage

is super fit

aaaannnnd…

she always has good hair.

Now that’s a woman I’d,

a. ) pay to see.  And,

b.) want to stab. (Calm down – only with a fork. A plastic one! I wouldn’t really harm her, I’d just think about it.  Probably.)

But – I’m a Christian and this is just a silly piece of tabloid fodder. Easily dismissed.

Where I really run into difficulties is when I’m introduced to such a woman in Scripture. Ladies, I think you know who’s coming. Darling of the conference circuit, the devotional and the woman’s group. Put your hands together for..

‘The Wife of Noble Character’…aka Scary Proverbs 31 Woman. (Check her out)

Glen has preached a cracking sermon on marriage in Proverbs – touching on the wife of noble character.  See here.

But I’ve got to be frank. Everytime I open this passage, a little piece of me dies. Here’s the woman who’s got it all. She’s industrious, loving, charming, talented, businessminded, compassionate, God-fearing, family-orientated, respected, strong, gentle and dignified. She even has a sense of humour. So it was with a heavy heart that I met with a couple of girl friends to look at the passage again. Exactly what I need – another reminder of my shortcomings.

But as we read the passage together, I realised that I’d been making myself a mental list of tasks to match up;

select wool and flax

work with eager hands

get up while it is still night

provide food for the family

clothe them in scarlet… etc, etc,

I’d missed the heart of her beauty. Here is a woman who fears the Lord – and it is out of this relationship with the Lord that her character has been formed and out of which her actions follow. I start with the tasks and work back, but her actions are fruits of her character, not the character itself. Feminine beauty doesn’t come from charm or looks – or even good works. It is the outflowing of someone created by and dependent upon the Lord, whose character is shaped by Him and who then blesses those around her, like ripples in a pond. I might not have kids or a job or a husband or good health or any of the other attributes which seem at first to mark her worth. But I do have a Saviour who has created me female and placed me exactly where I am, with all my limitations as well as strengths. He gives me identity and beauty. He grants me wisdom, freedom from fear, strength and dignity to reach out to others, when my inclination is to shrink back. To encourage and bless rather than compare and envy.

5 thoughts on “Wonderwoman?

  1. I really appreciated this post, Emma.

    Here’s the woman who’s got it all.

    She is intimidating, isn’t she? And I’ve always tended to feel like an inadequate bumbler when I go down the checklist.

    Then the thought occurred that “she” just might be Christ’s bride– all of His people working in community in Him with all of our strengths and weaknesses complementing and balancing one another.

    It still doesn’t take off the pressure to want to be “better”, but it helped me to see what is the point of striving for excellence.

  2. Hi Heather

    Yes – that would make sense of all of the roles she seems to inhabit – mother, wife, provider etc. And like you say, we complement and balance each other – not just with our giftings, but our weaknesses too. That helps me when I’m tempted to compare myself to those checklists.

    Where does the pressure ‘to be better’ come from and what does it mean? Sometimes I wonder if we mix up what we think God wants with what He actually desires. I feel condemned and guilty because of my own expectations, not His. Equally though, I want to grow in faith and obedience, which means challenging my thoughts and behaviour. But not it in my own strength!

    I’m thankful God is so patient and gives us daily grace – otherwise my head would be pickled!

  3. I see your point concerning pressure. My tendency is to pile on a lot of Biblically extracted ideas of what it looks like to be a godly woman. And, unfortunately, the idea somehow gets tossed in that I take “being holy” more seriously than other believers I know.

    Then of course I’ll fail on multiple fronts and will be much harder on myself than anyone else for not being the ideal Wife of Noble Character.

    I do believe your husband recently had a post on his King’s English site which concerned pride going before a fall…

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