What is a Godly Woman, Anyway?

For as long as I have been a Christian I have felt as though I didn’t quite belong.

Every subculture has certain archetypes that it holds on to and within my subculture I have been drawn to the Christian archetype of what it means to be a godly woman.

Meek. Lowly. Servant. Humble.

Over the years countless biblical films, sermons, & Sabbath school quarterlies have left me with this unfortunate picture of what a woman of God should be.

For whatever reason, I have long felt that in order to be what God has required I must be silent, subservient, passive. I tried to bend myself to fit into a box, and I never quite fit.  I understood that I needed to educate my children in the ways of God, care for the home & closely monitor the food that my family ate. I needed to be always patient, love to cook & clean, and volunteer for things at the church.

But when I look at the list of qualities I find that I do not fit.  I am imperfect to be sure—but I am an independent, career-minded woman that is not only passionate about my family, but also about the greater world in which I live.

I hate oppression. Not in a volunteer-at-a-soup-kitchen kind of way, but a fierce hate.  I read about others suffering and I am moved to extremes. I want to travel there, meet them, free them, help. I dream of writing their stories, exposing their pain to the world in order to evoke change.

I love politics. I believe in our American democracy and I think every citizen should be well informed and politically active.  I care—deeply.

I am passionate about my family—but I am not a stay-at-home mom. I love my work. I love creating interesting ways to present amazing information to my students. I love to read the words of the great thinkers of history. It may seem nerdy, but I love it. Most days, I enjoy with relish every moment of my graduate classes.  I am better as a mom when I am fulfilling my own dreams.

I am opinionated—and I have been blessed enough to have a husband that loves me more because of that. I challenge him; he challenges me. We are intellectual equals and it makes us more powerful together.

I have spent a great number of years feeling as though I needed to somehow weaken myself in order to fit into the mold of a godly woman.  But I now realize that I was wrong. God doesn’t ask for weakness; he asks for strength.  He asks for servants, but he calls them to lead.

I want my three girls to grow up knowing that being a strong, well spoken, intelligent, independent, motivated woman is exactly what God requires. We don’t live in the 1600’s and there is no need for them to feel they have to choose between who they are, and who God has designed them to be.

So let me, if I may, interject a few of my own adjectives for a truly godly woman.

Strong. Smart. Decisive. Loving. Loyal. Passionate. Driven.  This is the picture I will paint for my girls.

What do you think a godly woman looks like?

The Day Domesticity Punched Me in the Face

About 2 weeks ago I had a perfect day. I was off of work and by noon I had straightened the basement, fed all three kids, gotten them dressed and ready for the day, swept and mopped the kitchen and the living room, dusted, and cleaned the windows.

I don’t say this to brag…wait, yes I do.

I was a rock star.

It was the morning of all mornings: no television (not even Max & Ruby!), happy children, and a clean house.

Be envious—I would be. It was that awesome.

As I sat on the couch, sipping my coffee, which is mostly creamer with a dash of coffee, I felt really good about myself.

Now, as any student of literature should know, I was committing hubris, the sin of excessive pride, and I was about to be put in my place.

Yesterday was the day.

Zoe was exhausted from a night of playing “how many times can I get mom and dad up in an 8 hour period?” So, as any parent of a strong-willed two-year-old could tell you—she was a toddler terrorist. Running from room to room, crying then laughing, screeching then babbling and finally collapsing in a heap of tears and sweat in the middle of the floor.

Meanwhile Sophie was wandering around screaming “Me baby! Me baby!”  Looking for her special baby (thanks mom for the troll looking doll she now carries everywhere)—which was all the while tucked neatly under her arm. Don’t try telling her that, it results is louder screaming and running in place of a slow wander.

And then there was Layla, my beautiful, stubborn, strong-willed rebel, still sitting at the table from breakfast, which had ended for the rest of the family nearly an hour before. She was continuing to fuss about how she would love to eat her pancakes, they simply had too many “bubbles” on the edges, so it simply wasn’t going to happen (albeit in a slightly less formal vernacular that included twisting her body in such a way that her feet were more often on the table than her hands).

No big deal, I thought. I can handle this, just stay calm. You see, my rock star days were still fresh in my mind; I was sure I could handle this just as easily.

I was wrong.

And I realized it 30 seconds later when domesticity smacked me in the face. You see, it happened like this: I was calmly putting the ironing board away, congratulating myself on my stellar patience with all the chaos around me when whack, the leg of the ironing board popped out of its fastener and smacked me in the lip.

I won’t get into the sordid details of what followed—let’s just say it wasn’t quite the day I had experienced a few weeks earlier.

Parenthood is full of dark days. Sometimes they overwhelm you; they climb out of the shadows and swallow you whole and you wonder why did I give up my previous self for parenthood? Domesticity smacked me in the face—literally. But you know what, it smacks us all sometimes, and I don’t mind a bit.

Because the day is coming when the chubby little fingers that cling so tightly to mine will let go and make their own way in the world.

The day is coming when Layla will be crying over much more than bubbles in her pancakes.

Sophie will be searching and I won’t be there to show her what she can’t see because she’s too close.

One day my babies will grow up, and they’ll leave, and I’ll miss the times that they threw fits and made my life crazy—it’s that simple.

So domesticity, give me everything you’ve got; I can handle it—with a little help from Max and Ruby that is! People With No Kids Don’t Know

Motherhood is…a Hallmark commercial?

When my husband & I got married I distinctly remember visions of what our lives would be like together. I looked into our future & I saw it all. The two-story house on a quiet street, family dog, 2.5 kids, & myself, in a career that I adored.

In my visions we were always smiling, the kids were happy, the house was perfectly clean and organized—all was well. I saw myself baking with the children, all laughing around me, the holiday crafts we had made together decorating the refrigerator in the background.  I was headed for a wonderfully perfect life in suburbia. What I didn’t realize at the time was this image that I had in my mind, it wasn’t a life, it was a Norman Rockwell painting, a Hallmark movie, a Nestle commercial—but it wasn’t real.

Now this may seem painfully obvious to you, but for a young, idealistic 25 year old expecting her first baby, it was a shock.  I encountered motherhood with a false expectation of what my life “should” look like.  It was a picture created from thousands of magazine ads with perfect mothers holding perfect babies, from years of watching television shows depicting “Betty Crocker” mothers that could do it all with ease. It started in pregnancy, from the moment I found out that I was expecting I immersed myself in baby books—I stopped eating all the wrong foods; started eating all the right ones. I continued to exercise 6 days a week, drank the perfect amount of water, slept in just the right position.  I avoided cold medicine as if it was the plague. I carefully planned out my birth plan—which absolutely excluded any pain medicine.  I was striving for perfection.

“Freedom From Want” By Norman Rockwell

Once our baby arrived the obsession continued.  I tried to keep my house in perfect condition, make sure that my baby was doing it all—sign language, sleep training, cloth diapers, etc. Now I am a 29-year-old mother of three, and I am exhausted. My house isn’t perfectly decorated & immaculately clean—and I feel guilty about that. My kids don’t behave wonderfully all the time—and I feel guilty about that. I don’t always have time to cook the most nutritious meals—and I feel guilty about that. I wake up late & don’t always make time for worship in the mornings. I am, at times, short-tempered and impatient. I have been known to use the television as a babysitter to get a moment of peace, and even let my twins sleep on their stomach because they HATED swaddling and wouldn’t sleep any other way (gasp)—and I feel guilty about all of it.

But you know what, I have come to accept that I am not alone.  I am not the only drowning mother in a sea of perfect, beautiful women who have it all together. No. There are others that find this ideal is too much. This ideal that we’ve created through countless ads, television shows, movies, & Facebook posts that reveal only our best moments, and rarely our worst.

So for all you moms out there, having perhaps your worst day—keep the faith! Despite all the cute pictures & funny anecdotes barraging you on Facebook—there are times we all want to cry.

Image Credit: supershot.com

You see, the truth is, we all get angry at our kids. There are moments we ALL want to rip our hair out & wonder why in the world we didn’t just stay childless.  More often than not our house is not kept in perfect condition, because we have toddlers running about—wreaking havoc where there once was order.  Sometimes we cry; sometimes we yell; sometimes we feel like giving up.  This is life. It is messy. It is imperfect. It is hard. It is not made up of a thousand perfectly happy Facebook posts, and at the end of the day, thank God for that! Without its chaos & imperfections I wouldn’t have all the stories & memories that make up my life—instead I would merely have a Hallmark commercial—superficial & uneventful at best.