The day that I – the confused tomboy – realized that I was a girl, and would have to live the rest of my life as a woman, was a horrible day. Once the realization came, I felt trapped in my own girly skin.
So began a bewildered journey of stumbling from one list to another, trying to become something beyond myself. Measuring myself next to my naturally quiet mother, I came away defeated and discouraged. Being opinionated and outgoing, I rarely felt like a feminine young lady. So I tried my best to be quiet, reserved, and less vocal. Armed with good intentions, I marched into social events with high hopes – only to watch my plans crumble almost every time.
The rare times when I managed to keep quiet in a group of people, I came away very pleased with myself. Yet this was often shortly followed by a feeling of failure because I knew there were times when I should have spoken up. I just didn’t know how.
Swinging between these feelings of success and failure, I felt like a mess.
Was I a feminine woman? Was I a godly woman? What did this sort of woman look like? And how could I become like her?
The Surrendered Heart
You probably have heard it said before that “at the foot of the cross is level ground,” and it’s true. It doesn’t matter whether I am a man or a woman, I am in need of redemption and the saving blood of Jesus Christ. I can write and talk all I want about the good things to be found in godly women, but it starts with surrender and the giving up of rights to the lordship of Jesus Christ. His lordship must have complete control and authority over every aspect of my life, even the most basic things I do. My wishes and desires must be put to death in submission to His. As a Christian, my first and foremost goal is to grow into the likeness of Jesus. As a Christian woman, my aim is the same.
“…a woman is feminine [godly] when she relates in a way that invites others to see something about God that is irresistibly attractive,
something about the relational nature of God
that she was created to enjoy and reveal.”
Dr. Larry Crabb
As a woman, how I reveal the Father is distinctly different from how a man does it.
But Elisabeth Elliot reminds us that, “the woman who accepts the limitations of womanhood finds in those very limitations her gifts.”
The Trusting Spirit
I was not born with the personality that enjoys giving preference to another. Neither was I born with the gift of submission (and you probably weren’t either). I was born with a sinful nature that seeks to control. Yet the more I seek to manipulate things my way, the more I add to the chaos sin brings. While seeking to control – whether it be with my words, my silences, or my actions – I am not revealing God the way He designed me to reveal Him. A woman, by physical design, is created to receive, and to give life. In the same way, “having a receptive, responsive spirit is at the core of what it means to be a woman.”1 In this way, a godly, feminine woman reveals the openness of an invitational God.
“A relationally feminine [godly] woman is open to receive.
She doesn’t demand, she invites like Jesus,
who invited weary people to come to Him.
[She] discerns and is open to receive only what reflects God’s character
and advances His purpose.”
Dr. Larry Crabb
Please note that she only accepts and responds positively to what furthers the Kingdom of God. She is closed to sin and will not encourage it in another human being. If silence is consent, there are times when I need to stand up and fight against sin with words that are fitly spoken.
The Meek and Quiet Ones
For years there was one phrase I especially cringed at: “a meek and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4). Stereotypes, especially misrepresentations of meekness and quietness, had left me angry and bitter at the expectations of being this sort of woman.
It wasn’t until a dear friend and cousin of mine told me that to have a meek and quiet spirit is exactly that: the spirit of peace and rest. It wasn’t a magical character trait! Suddenly it made sense that even the most outgoing young lady was capable of cultivating a meek and quiet spirit.
To be meek and quiet goes against my sinful nature. When something is going wrong, and when my emotions feel off kilter, I want to make it known to the world! But the meek and quiet spirit is what will guide me in making decisions of how I will choose to act in spite of my emotions. My actions should then be calm, with a deep faith in God and His sovereignty over the smallest areas of my life.
Yet it’s not just my kind of personality that struggles with having a meek and quiet spirit. My younger sister who is naturally quieter (she takes after my mother) will tell you that it is a huge challenge for her as well. She says, “My calm exterior can hide anger, fear, or an attention-grabbing heart, anything but the peace of God which makes up a ‘meek and quiet spirit.’ My character has to be transformed just as much as the loudest extrovert.”
The Humble Servant
If ever in doubt of what to do, I pray love will be my guiding principle. Love is not boastful, or proud, or rude, or selfish. It thinks of others. As my friend Kayla Oberholtzer states, a godly woman will be known by “her humble service to all people of all age groups, races, or nationalities (or smells).” Someone who loves will not be self-conscious; rather, she will be aware and attentive to the needs, wants, and comforts of those around her. 2 Love can be found in every Christian virtue and gift of the Spirit. Jesus told His disciples they would be known by their love (John 13:35).
“Let all you do be done in love.”
1 Corinthians 16:14
“[A godly woman] doesn’t spend a lot of time every day or week even thinking about how she can be a godly woman. Then working hard and really striving to make sure she’s covering all the bases. She just knows that what is most important is Jesus. So she pursues Him with all she has. He is her everything, and that is what consumes her. She doesn’t realize it, but those around her begin to say ‘There is a godly woman.’ Because she knows she is nothing without Jesus, she doesn’t ever really feel like she’s arrived and attained the status of [a] godly woman. It’s not what she’s focusing on anyway, she’s focused on Him. ” -Beverly Stutzman, my pastor’s wife
|Linda Hershey lives in the beautiful mountains of Mexico. She desires that all people would know and serve God as He desires to be known and served. She loves to make people smile and can rarely turn down an invitation to a good discussion. When she is not cooking in the kitchen, you might find her learning Spanish, helping with children’s classes, or attending Bible studies. She also enjoys playing and writing music, and reading thought-provoking books.
Crabb, Larry, Dr. Fully Alive: A Biblical Vision of Gender That Frees Men and Women to Live Beyond Stereotypes. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2014. Print.
Kassian, Mary A., and Nancy Leigh DeMoss. True Woman 101: Divine Design. Chicago: Moody, 2012. Print.