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Biblical Womanhood

What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice and all things nice . . .
That’s what little girls are made of.

The sculptor rejoiced. This new world lilted and undulated before him, raw and shimmering with newness, innocent and fresh, full of hope and promise. "Good, all is good!" he proclaimed, each moment unfolding before him in living color. He loved the way edges of light interlaced with darkness; he smiled as dolphins flung themselves from the deep and launched towards heaven. And with particular tenderness, he watched the man he'd formed from earth make his way throughout the garden, calling all creatures to himself. "He looks like me," he mused, and sighed with the fullness of life.

Life is good.

The artist surveyed the work of his heart, the outpouring of his spirit. "One thing more and it will be perfect," he promised, and with heady anticipation caused the creature who looked like him to rest. "Just you wait and see what I have for you . . ."  he sang with joy. With intricate precision and tender love, his hands set to work.

She shall be called Woman . . .

Eve: the only work of art, in the genesis of life, sculpted from a living being.

Life, from life.

And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man 
He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. Gen. 2:21, 22

The pinnacle of creation

Is this not a ravishing thought? The God of heaven and earth spoke light into existence; He caused hemispheres to find their place. He formed man and beast from dust, yet woman was tenderly contoured out of living flesh—life from life—by the very fingertips of God.

Although Old Mother Goose thought she had the recipe for maidenhood, the Creator of Eve knew best. Heart, body, mind, and soul . . . sculpted in the image of He who is Eternal . . . that is what little girls are made of.

To thoroughly comprehend the devastating effects of patriocentricity and abuse—spiritual, emotional, and otherwise—on women, we must first develop a deep understanding of who we are and who God is. It is only then will we discover His heart for the crown of His creation.

Imagine the most beautiful woman you have ever seen. Is she a mother? Or a bride, with veils of gossamer spilling down her back? Or an angel, wrapped in light? Is she soft and enchanting? Or fierce and strong, like a warrior? Do her lips smile sweetly and whisper words of loving-kindness? Do her eyes swim with the depth of tenderness? Are her hands gentle? Do her arms embrace with comfort and nourishment?

I try to imagine the woman of Eden. What did the mother of all humanity look like? The most beautiful and intricate of God's creations, woman is also a complex, powerful entity who baffles mankind and can change the face of history. (See this link for a few more examples.) For many under patriocentric teachings, the identity of womanhood is conflicted and convoluted—even in some cases, reduced to lucrative exploitation. I believe that God’s spirit is grieved by this, for it denies His heart and makes shallow the depth and strength of this glorious reflection of His nature.

The Essence of Womanhood

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; 
male and female He created them.Genesis 1:27

To stifle, belittle, and dismiss any aspect of womanhood gravely limits and misrepresents our Creator. He has chosen, in a manner which I believe is very deliberate, to reveal precious elements of Himself, through us—for as women, we have the ability to reflect Him in beautiful, unique ways. In this article I will explore three facets of femininity which unveil the pristine glory of God.

•    Givers of life
The very heart of the gospel draws upon distinctions that are inherent to the most raw, vulnerable, and intimate aspects of womanhood . . . birth. Jesus illustrated this when He said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) What an honor, time and time again, to represent salvation through feminine language! For those who have not yet experienced, or cannot experience the unparalleled glory of motherhood, let the words of Ann Voskamp fill your spirit with a perspective to refresh and renew your sense of purpose. In her blog A Holy Experience, she writes:
We never cease to be with child. Those of us who have birthed, and those of us who never have. We may make spaces within us for all of humanity, for their dreams, their stories, their hurts, their lives. Do we not, over the years, line our lives with the stretch marks of love? The privilege of carrying a soul is always ours. We may choose to never let our wombs languish empty. Always we may open and welcome another person to find nourishment and comfort within the empty places we have made just for them.—Ann Voskamp
With each soul reborn, each spirit comforted, and each mortal nourished, the mother-heart of God is revealed.  Venerate and rejoice! For what a lovely avocation to be bestowed: the art of giving and sustaining life!

•    Flesh
Mystery. Succulence. Harmony. Perception. Sensuality. Our very embodiment as a womanly being gives tribute to the wisdom of God when we observe the natural order He has placed within our flesh. How often do we hear, “It’s just your hormones!” Or, “You must be ready to start your period!” Such disparaging remarks severely abuse the handiwork of God, for not only do they attack and diminish the exquisite mystery which courses through our frame, but they also discount the supreme intelligence of the One who authored our existence.

Those raised in nature or familiar with the elements can attest that a woman’s cycle often naturally follows the lunar phase of the moon. Some say that childbirth also bears witness to this phenomenon. Consider what an exquisite correlation to have! Reverenced for years in poetry and song, the silent, ethereal presence of the moon affects both the pull of the ocean tides and the feminine portal of life. With naught a word, she reduces mankind to hushed whispers and lights imagination with still, serene beauty. Like a pearl, she radiates—her luminous orb rising and falling with faithful precision. Ruminate upon the forethought of God and His kindness, for certainly he knew the consummate rapture the moon would invoke among those of a womanly nature. To thus acquaint the two so intimately is tender indeed.

"No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for a light by day, the ordinances of the moon, and the stars for a light by night…” (Jeremiah 31)
Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all you stars of light! (Ps 148:3)
The heavens declare His righteousness, and all the peoples see His glory. (Ps 97:6)



The image of God is hereby reflected within intimate details inherent to your femininity. Curse them no longer, and do not let others do so. You've been chosen to portray an exclusive facet of God, which cannot be fully known by others. Learn to embrace the voluptuous realm of your womanliness and let the heart of God be revealed through you.

•    Expression
The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. (Zeph. 3:17)
Although this is not limited to women, emotional expression is a deeply reflective attribute of God. How many times do you endure verbal lashes? “Just get over it!” “Stop your crying!” “You shouldn’t be so upset!” “Don’t be so sensitive!” Sadly, these words smother the heart of those who feel and who express the depths of soul. Many authoritarian families spend much effort downplaying and belittling emotion. Using Biblical texts such as “A fool vents all his feelings” (Proverbs 29), the act of expression is often treated as sin. Many women are taught that emotions are like chaff, which must be beaten and discarded—ungodly by-products of worldly desire and life in the flesh. Subtle messages communicate that emotions don’t matter, that feelings are foolishness to be gotten over, to rise above.

Dear sister, this is not truth. When we consider that feelings are a gift from God, placed within a woman made in His image, what does that imply? If your upbringing has both discredited and condemned you for expressing feeling and emotion, bring those hurts and lies to the feet of God for healing. God felt no shame in articulating the feelings that emanated from his heart. Contemplate a brilliant sunset—myriad colors of vibrancy, flung across the face of the heavens with the rapture of a painter. Or music, when melodies and harmonies all convolute into swelling symphony causing joy and life to spring from within! These miracles cannot come from a God who doesn’t feel. And women in particular reflect this attribute—dwelling in lusciously sculpted flesh, representing softness and beauty and sweetness and fire, having the incarnate ability to cause empty places to come alive, simply from being who she is without apology.

Turbulent or joyous, angry or apathetic—what we feel can be an invaluable standard to measure the homeostasis within our spirit and self. If you have been injured by the lie which teaches feelings don’t matter, stop to reassure the little girl who aches within. Know the truth—that God created them, and in His kindness, chose to reveal part of who He is through an expressive heart. As a thermometer checks and reflects temperature, let your emotions be a valuable guide which reflects the innermost conditions. Even anger can bring Him glory. The book of James cautions us not to sin because of anger, but to be. Examine what you feel before God; seek him when you question why you feel certain things. Seek to know the hidden roots which may indicate when something is amiss internally, but believe the truth: emotions are necessary for a healthy life.

Jesus and women 

One of the most moving passages in the New Testament reveals an invaluable glimpse into the tender side of God, through the heart-stricken lament of His Son. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! (Luke 13: 34)

What an emotional outpouring! It is this same Jesus, made known to you and I, who transformed the life of one broken, desperate soul while His feet walked upon this earth. And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. For she said to herself, “If only I may touch His garment I shall be made well.” (Matthew 9) Consider this Jewish woman. Twelve years of uncleanness. Twelve years of sorrow. Twelve years of loneliness and isolation; likely without even the comfort of a human touch. Twelve years of lost wages, dwindling hope, and despair. Twelve years of bearing the oppressive weight of the law:
‘If a woman has a discharge, and the discharge from her body is blood, she shall be set apart seven days; and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening. Everything that she lies on during her impurity shall be unclean; also everything that she sits on shall be unclean. Whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. And whoever touches anything that she sat on shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. If anything is on her bed or on anything on which she sits, when he touches it, he shall be unclean until evening . . . If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, other than at the time of her customary impurity, or if it runs beyond her usual time of impurity, all the days of her unclean discharge shall be as the days of her customary impurity. She shall be unclean. Every bed on which she lies all the days of her discharge shall be to her as the bed of her impurity; and whatever she sits on shall be unclean, as the uncleanness of her impurity. Whoever touches those things shall be unclean; he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. (Leviticus 15)
Into this world walked Jesus. Imagine her fear—yet also the desperation that drove her to grasp the hem of his robe! For even that small touch would render Him unclean, according to the law, and yet twelve years of agony drove her to seek a New Way . . . the narrow way of life, which few find. But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour. (v. 22)

Other translations quote Jesus as saying Take heart! Have courage! In addition to the healing of her body, consider the impact on her soul. Instead of disdain, she was welcomed into the presence of God. Instead of turning away, He made her whole. He looked at her—oh, imagine the love in His eyes! He received her in her shame, when all others would have turned away or recoiled from her touch. He commended her for going against the religious law out of faith that a better way had come. He comforted her, for she still felt trepidation, despite her faith. In one moment, He took away her uncleanness. He brought life to her body and healing to her heart. She was touched by God in the midst of her impurity, while all others in the name of God rejected her.

What a life-giving response! And it is His response to us, as well, those of us wrought with the effects of spiritual abuse. He makes way for us a new path, out of the darkness and shame that comes from those who substitute the voice of the law for the voice of God.   

Have courage! Take heart! He does not reject you. He will look at you with love in His eyes. He will receive the faith you offer Him—even as a seed so small within a forbidding forest of fear. “Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12)

A Passionate Calling

As you learn to express and feel with the exuberance of living, seek the nature of God to learn the balance that is crucial with this element of femininity. There is . . . a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. (Ecclesiastes 3) To those scathed by false teachings . . . come alive! Find joy in being! If you paint, fling your acrylics with abandon. If you sew, create masterpieces of beauty. If you play music, serenade the world with melody! Find something that moves you, something that inspires you. Did you know that these things are gifts from God? Your talents and tastes make you unique and special; furthermore, pursuing these things brings our Father glory and honor.

So you shall speak to all who are gifted artisans, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom . . . (Ex. 28) See, the LORD has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of artistic workmanship. “And He has put in his heart the ability to teach, in him and Aholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan. He has filled them with skill to do all manner of work of the engraver and the designer and the tapestry maker, in blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine linen, and of the weaver—those who do every work and those who design artistic works.” (Ex. 35)
Purpose within to discover your calling and to listen to the little girl who yearns within. Be the woman you were created to be; live fully and freely, with healthy balance, with your identity firmly rooted in the image of He who is Eternal. Embrace your womanliness, rejoice in your femininity. As you go forth and break free, carry with you the knowledge of God’s exquisite love. He will lead you through the darkness.

What other ways does God reveal Himself through our femininity? How has He made Himself known to you?

14 comments:

  1. (Oh heavens I cringe to hear that term!) What a beautiful essay you've written and so full of warmth and truth. One thing it's reminded me of is Matthew's special mentions, in Jesus's genealogy, of Rahab, Ruth, and Tamar, three outcast women who suffered much and were dear to the heart of God.

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  2. This is a beautiful article, and I have been blessed. Thank you for passionately reaching out to women.

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  3. One reason I wanted to write about womanhood is because within Christian fundamentalism, Biblical or godly womanhood is reduced to what we do rather than who we are--it becomes an issue of roles which are hotly debated.

    Just like subtle messages which communicate love based upon our behavior, I believe this is so damaging to all of us, both men and women, created in the image of God. He loves us based upon who we are, not what we do.

    I think it's important, especially as we seek healing from ravaging forms of abuse, to celebrate who we are in Christ and to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God.

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  4. Thank you Hillary! The truth in this post is becoming familiar to me, yet I still need to be reminded. You have communicated it very clearly. Our creator rejoices in us, and that is something to be glad about!

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  5. so beautiful, hillary. you inspire and encourage!

    there's so much that we have hidden from in womanhood...so much we've shunned because we've believed the enemy-lie of our extra wickedness. he tells us we aren't just sinners with all of humanity, but we are worse. but that is NOT what God says about us and i am so thankful for your truth-telling.

    proclaim it, my friend! truth sets us free.

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  6. Hillary, that is truly beautiful!! For once it is a picture of woman as a beautiful creation, priceless and not encumbered by any subservient role or other negative description. God did not create woman with a deficit so great as to cause her to always need a man to lead her!

    Anon 2

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  7. {{Sharon}}
    Tonia--much, much love.
    {{ Anon 2 }}

    I am blessed.

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  8. Beautiful.

    Let's reclaim Biblical womanhood.

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  9. good blog.

    Biblical womanhood is much like biblical manhood. We are all to live out our humanity fashioning our lives after the example of Christ. The fact that we all live it out somewhat differently due to unique personality, gender and cultures shouldn't bother anyone.

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  10. Hillary, your comments after Marlana's are profoundly true and so often missed in all the 'role' debates!! Very good point!!! 'God loves us for who we are, not for what we do'. I suppose the discussions then begin with knowing that God loves obedience more than sacrifice so people then get caught up in what 'obedience' is comprised of, and the whole 'roles' nightmare begins.

    Anon 2

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  11. Good point, Anon 2. And you know what I just thought of...as we are 1)made in God's image and 2) commanded to love Him with all our hearts, mind soul and strength, could it be that this command (which our response is to obey) is a reflection of God's love for us? That this shows that He loves us with all HIS heart soul mind and strength? This needs some serious fleshing out of course--it's just off the top of my head now. And of course our human attributes are not God's. But I do know His love for us is so infinite, so I think this is a beautiful way to understand it a little better. And proclaim the truth of HIM to the world around us.

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  12. Hillary, that is a beautiful thought!!!! It had never occurred to me yet it makes so much sense! Anon 2

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  13. Yes ~ we love Him because He first loves us ~ and He show us how!

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  14. The first time I read something like this (the Eldridge book: Captivating) I dismissed it as feminism masquerading under a sheep-skin of biblical language. (I have been well indoctrinated)
    Now, it is in my top 1o book of all time.

    Such things still throw me for a whirl. It is astounding to think that (as a WOMAN) I reflect part of the image and heart of God.

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