Think about the women you meet at church. They’re trying to live up to some model of femininity. What do they “teach” you about being a woman? What are they saying to us through their lives? You’d have to conclude that a godly woman is… tired. And guilty.
We’re all living in the shadow of that infamous icon, “The Proverbs 31 Woman,” whose life is so busy I wonder, when does she have time for friendships, for taking walks, or reading good books? Her light never goes out at night? When does she have sex? Somehow she has sanctified the shame most women live under, biblical proof that yet again we don’t measure up. Is that supposed to be godly — that sense that you are a failure as a woman?
Unseen, Unsought, and Uncertain
Every woman I’ve ever met feels it — something deeper than just the sense of failing at what she does. An underlying, gut feeling of failing at who she is. I am not enough, and I am too much at the same time. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not kind enough, not gracious enough, not disciplined enough. But too emotional, too needy, too sensitive, too strong, too opinionated, too messy. The result is Shame, the universal companion of women. It haunts us, nipping at our heels, feeding on our deepest fear that we will end up abandoned and alone.
After all, if we were better women — whatever that means — life wouldn’t be so hard. Right? We wouldn’t have so many struggles; there would be less sorrow in our hearts. Why is it so hard to create meaningful friendships and sustain them? Why do our days seem so unimportant, filled not with romance and adventure but with duties and demands? We feel unseen, even by those who are closest to us. We feel unsought — that no one has the passion or the courage to pursue us, to get past our messiness to find the woman deep inside. And we feel uncertain — uncertain what it even means to be a woman; uncertain what it truly means to be feminine; uncertain if we are or ever will be.
Aware of our deep failings, we pour contempt on our own hearts for wanting more. Oh, we long for intimacy and for adventure; we long to be the Beauty of some great story. But the desires set deep in our hearts seem like a luxury, granted only to those women who get their acts together. The message to the rest of us — whether from a driven culture or a driven church — is “try harder.”
The Heart of a Woman
And in all the exhortations we have missed the most important thing of all. We have missed the heart of a woman.
And that is not a wise thing to do, for as the Scriptures tell us, the heart is central.
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. — Proverbs 4:23
Above all else. Why? Because
God knows that our heart is core to who we are. It is the source of all our creativity, our courage, and our convictions. It is the fountainhead of our faith, our hope, and of course, our love.
This “wellspring of life” within us is the very essence of our existence, the center of our being. Your heart as a woman is the most important thing about you.
Think about it: God created you as a woman.
God created man in his own image… male and female He created them. — Genesis 1:27
Whatever it means to bear God’s image, you do so as a woman. Female. That’s how and where you bear His image.
You are a woman to your soul, to the very core of your being. And so the journey to discover what God meant when he created woman in His image — when He created you as His woman — that journey begins with your heart. Another way of saying this is that the journey begins with desire. The desires that God has placed into our hearts are clues as to who we really are and the role that we are meant to play.
Many of us have come to despise our desires or at least try to bury them. They have become a source of pain or shame. We are embarrassed of them. But we don’t need to be. The desires of our heart bear a great glory because they are precisely where we bear the image of God. We long for certain things because He does!
Look at the games that little girls play, and if you can, remember what you dreamed of as a little girl. Look at the movies women love. Listen to your own heart and the hearts of the women you know. What is it that a woman wants? What does she dream of? Think again of women like Tamar, Ruth, Rahab — not very “churchy” women, but women held up for esteem in the Bible. We think you’ll find that every woman in her heart of hearts longs for three things: to be romanced, to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, and to unveil beauty. That’s what makes a woman come alive.
Excerpted with permission from Captivating: Unveiling The Mystery Of A Woman’s Soul by Stasi & John Eldredge, copyright Thomas Nelson.
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Do you consider your heart to be the most important thing about you? Or does it feel like your work, or your role at home, or your church leadership, or the services you perform — laundry, errands, cooking, wifing, mothering, endless cleaning — is all that’s valuable about you as a woman? What makes you come alive? Have you even asked that of yourself or of the Lord? Maybe that feels ridiculously luxurious with the responsibilities you juggle. Ask it anyway! Come join the conversation on our blog! We want to hear from you! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.full