About three weeks ago, I dove into the book Girl Defined by Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird. After reading (and l o v i n g) Idols of the Heart by Elyse Fitzpatrick, my hopes for similar spiritual realizations and impacts while reading this book were high, but not much of the material has "hit" me as hard as anything Fitzpatrick said did. That is, until I finished Chapter 6 - "Modern Chic, Meet Biblical Womanhood". Here, Clark and Baird present their interpretations (after much prayer, discussion, and studying) of God's intention in his design of the female:
- Produce Life
- Nurture Relationships
As I flipped page after page of this chapter, I kept asking myself, How am I living out each of these aspects? If you haven't read the book, I recommend doing so, mainly for this chapter and the one following it. I just want to share my thoughts on Clark and Baird's "Three Pillars of Biblical Womanhood", ways I do apply them already and new ways I can begin to do so. My hope is that this will provide you, as a reader, some inspiration and motivation to a) invite God into your life, if you haven't done so already, and b) grow closer to Him by asking Him to show you ways in which you can apply these pillars to your own life.
First, let me say "thank you" to these authors for sharing stories about their own lives throughout this book. You've both opened my eyes to different and new aspects of Christianity to which I hadn't given much thought before! I'm so grateful that God has blessed you with this passion to reach out to women like me (and maybe even some unlike me?) - I know I definitely need to hear much of what this book has to say :)
- HELP - After God created Adam, He decided that he shouldn't be alone, that he should have a companion ("a helper fit for him", as Genesis 2:18 writes). That's when Eve arrives at the scene, designed by God, complementary to Adam - "complementary" meaning that Eve would supply the needs and qualities Adam could not.
How am I a "helper"? My first (almost instinctual) answer to this question was work. Though I don't have a job at this moment, I'm in the application process and will hopefully soon enter the actual hiring process after some interviews this week. Nonetheless, God designed us all, whether male or female, to work. I've questioned how qualified a job at, say, a pizza place is when it comes to satisfying that idea of work, but it all boils down to how I represent Christ in the workplace, in any place, for that matter. I can be a helper in this time of my life (single, without kids, still supported by my parents) by working. While earning money for that work is definitely one of my priorities, I pray that God will shift my focus from the paycheck to simply serving others and bringing about a positive light wherever I work.
Proverbs 31:10-31 paints a picture of what God sees as a noble, working woman (it uses the word "wife", but can apply to single women, as well). Specifically, verses 13-24 speak clearly to what a hard working woman, desiring to help others looks like. Open up your bible or find the scripture here.
How can I better help others? A paycheck is important to me because it will allow me to start to repay my parents for all their support - paying my rent, buying me a car, providing some spending money here and there, etc. However, I recognize that not all work I do needs to be or even should be motivated by money. For example, each week, I volunteer at the Downtown SLO Farmers' Market. Though a position with the SLO Downtown Association after college would be amazing, I volunteer because the night of The Market is my favorite night of the week - I can't contain my passion and excitement towards serving this community that welcomed me in two years ago, when I began college at Cal Poly. San Luis Obispo boasts several other opportunities to involve myself in this community, a few of which include serving food at the homeless shelter, participating in beach clean-up days, and helping maintain the church I attend every Sunday.
- PRODUCE LIFE - Ahhhh this could be a tough one, considering I'm a) not dating anyone, b) not having sex before marriage even if I were to date, and c) still waiting for my body to reset my period to a hopefully regular, monthly schedule. In other words, I'm not in any position to even think about having kids right now. So how do I live out this aspect of Godly womanhood? Thankfully, Clark and Baird took into account girls in positions similar to mine by discussing how we can produce life in two ways - physically and spiritually. Physically? Obvious, but not in the cards at the moment. Spiritually? Sounds like a fit, but I had to research a little more in order to grasp it fully.
How can I spiritually produce life? Well, if you don't know me very well, I have this thing called a "blog" and it's what you're reading right now. It's that URL you typed in order to end up here. I also have an Instagram account, and it's following has increased beyond what I ever imagined. At first, a large audience seemed attractive simply because I felt popular and skilled doing what I love, but praise the Lord that the Holy Spirit quickly changed my heart, showing me the amount of influence and space for God's glory this following allowed. Matthew 5 reminded me that I am a light for this world, for those around me, so I should be constantly making sure that my actions represent His love and glorify Him, not myself.
Aside from my blog, speaking in more personal terms, I can spiritually produce life on a more local scale by connecting with both Christians and non-Christians. I can't be effective in sharing the Gospel if I stick close to only those who have already heard it's Good News. By spending quality time with, actually hanging out and getting to know, non-Christians (just like Jesus did in Matthew 9) I can ask God for courage, strength, and wisdom to share with others the abundance of His amazing, everlasting love.
Singleness should not and will not prevent me from living out God's plan for my life right now or in the future. I don't know if I'll be able to have children in five or ten years, but I do know that opportunities to spiritually produce life are plentiful, especially in my current situation. Thank you, God, for that :)
- NURTURE RELATIONSHIPS - Clark and Baird emphasize that God created Eve for Adam, making women "highly relational beings". We are meant for connection and relationship with others, and God wants us to ensure that each of our relationships points toward Him and glorifies Him.
How can I nurture relationships? Well, like I said before, I can't nurture a romantic relationship if I don't have one, but thankfully, God has blessed me with plenty of friendships (friends who know and love Him and others who don't), opportunities to put this pillar into practice.
I'm currently jobless, and have spent the past few days (aside from my time spent desperately job-hunting) just relaxing at home, at the beach, etc. Don't get me wrong - I've loved almost every minute of it. But I use the word "almost" specifically because I do get lonely and I do, at times, feel kind of like a big, bored lump on the couch. Last night, that feeling overwhelmed me as I tried to comfort myself in reading my bible and rereading a chapter of Idols of the Heart. At the same time, I was trying to make sure I had plans for today (the 4th of July) so I didn't end up like I was feeling then. My friend invited me on a morning-hike with her, but it conflicted with the plans I made (with myself...) to workout. I figured my choices were: a) skip the workout and just hike, b) skip the hike and try to make other plans with her later on in the day, or c) wake up early, workout, then go on the hike. Feeling ambitious, I went with Plan C. Yes - I'm exhausted and my knees hurt a little bit, but I could not be more thankful I did both. Working out in the morning is one of my favorite ways to start the day, I don't know why, but it just is and I struggle to give that up. Maybe I don't even need to give it up, but that's another discussion for another time. Anyway, I ended up finishing my workout before I thought I would and used my extra ten minutes to read a chapter from Isaiah - chapter 43, which tells of God's graciousness in saving Israel and promising to provide forgiveness and prosperity to those who believe in, follow, and love Him wholeheartedly. In other words, it was e x a c t l y what I needed to hear (or read, I guess).
While my friend and I were hiking, I found myself constantly out of breath - yes, I was tired from my early-morning workout, but I also realized how much I couldn't shut myself up. I haven't talked this much or with such spunk and excitement in a long time, and I think it's because I've felt lonely lately and have craved nothing more than just pure, genuine interaction. I'm an introvert - I re-energize in my alone-time - but I know now how important in my life relationships are, and I know that God is preparing me in this moment, if it's in His will, for a romantic relationship that is centered around Him.
To better nurture current and future relationships in my life, I'm praying for courage to bring God into conversations. I'm praying for maturity to represent Godliness in the previous two ways. I'm praying for strength to resist giving into gossip and other temptations. I'm praying for wisdom to always use the right words. I'm praying for humility to let God shine His light, instead of me striving to glorify anything of myself.
If you've gotten this far (please tell me you have actually read and not just skimmed), thank you for reading! Seriously, your presence and dedication do mean a lot to me, so I appreciate that :) I also want to encourage you to research both of the books I mentioned - Girl Defined by Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird and Idols of the Heart by Elyse Fitzpatrick. God has used these authors and their words to teach me so much about Himself and pull me in close to Him, especially during times when I've needed it more than I even knew.
I hope that I've provided something useful here and that you'll pray with me that God continues to use me and this blog for His glory, not my own. Please please please don't hesitate to ask any questions - leave them below or send me an email. I love hearing from you and would love even more to offer help or advice or just a presence in any way possible.
Again, thank you for reading :)