I’m about to dive into a series on Manhood and Womanhood with my students. We started off by simply establishing the issue of culture’s view of what men and women are, as opposed to Genesis 1 calling us image bearers. I asked a few girls I know and trust to give me a couple bullets of “What does culture say women should strive to become?” I had some great responses that made it into my talk. My sister replied with one of the most densely packed texts about burdens girls struggle with. Honestly, I could have done an entire sermon just on the few carefully chosen words she sent. Then, I get this massive email from Rachel. I asked her permission to post it on here, thinking it’s too good not to share! Enjoy! -Austin
We cannot escape culture. We are born into it and at some level cannot escape it. So, how do we view womanhood in light of the Gospel, live in the culture but fight against it’s expectations and standards? There a few key things we as young women can begin to change as we seek to look more like Christ.
Welcome to the South, the land of big hair and big expectations! Culturally we are taught to ALWAYS appear to have it all together, because that is what people expect.
This has created a lack of trust in community. The fact of the matter is that life is crazy, unpredictable and super messy. We live in this state as women being afraid to be found out. This will breed exaggeration and only sharing surface level things. Without people that you can be vulnerable and transparent with, deep feelings of worthlessness and loneliness can creep in (which are lies from the enemy).
Scripture tells us “iron sharpens iron as one man sharpens another” Proverbs 27:17. Although traditionally that verse is used for men’s ministry, contextually it is community as a whole. When we, as women, begin to understand the weight of the Gospel and place our trust in that, we will begin to be vulnerable with people in our biblical community. This being said: Do not share everything with everyone- have an inner circle of friends that you can be completely vulnerable and honest with. Regardless of age, I would encourage you to have someone older, a mentor, who you can unashamedly share your dirt with and who will give you godly wisdom and also encourage you to find someone younger to pour into. Let your guard down and you will be amazed at how the Lord reveals more His character to us through other people.
Our entertainment is saturated with manipulation. Naturally, as women, we are decisive and shrewd; living our lives in this state is dangerous and brings destruction. We are taught that the only way to get our way is with manipulation, regardless of the area of life: in school, relationships and friendships. Most of the time we don’t even recognize how manipulative we are. This is rooted deeply in the false reality that the world is about us.
Unfortunately this is a big part of our culture as women, and is manipulation’s partner in crime. We live in a society that feeds us the importance of self. We are trained from birth that we are the most important. The problem is when we place more importance on ourselves than we do in God and others. This type of living breeds selfishness and actions that are not reflective of the Lord.
Matthew 20:28 says, “Christ did not come be served but to serve.” Instead of letting ourselves be our number one, let’s focus on the Kingdom and doing the work of the Lord. As women we were created for a beautiful mission for the Lord and if we are only focused on ourselves, we will miss the opportunities he has given us.
The culture of feminism communicates to young women that their identity is in success. The idea of “I can do anything a man can do,” while true, rejects the role of women as compliments and helpers to men.
We are taught that our success is dependent on us alone and that we do not need anyone to help us. I experienced this in my own life. My dad has told me that I could do anything I set my mind too and my mom was consistently whispering in my ear that you don’t need a man for anything and be sure you know how to take care of yourself (yes, they are still married). This has completely distorted my view of success and what that looks like in woman’s life. This has also, not to mention, hardened my heart to any vulnerability with a man.
The issue at heart is not success itself, but the motivation of this success and the need for community in the journey towards it. Culture tells women that independence is the key to success. But true success is found in being made more and more into the image of Jesus and living your life for His glory. Living in this reality, that is in no way by us or about us, will revolutionize the way we view success and our biblical role as a women.
Identity and Fulfillment-
This. Is. HUGE. Like GINORMOUS.
Culture tells us that our identity is found in success (see above), men and beauty. Ladies, your dad may not be around, your dad may have be emotionally disconnected; your dad may have be an addict. But your dad’s actions are not in anyway a reflection of who you are.
I am sorry that your dad is passive and is not taking responsibility for the greatest God given blessing in his life, but no man is going to fill the hole you feel. Do not turn to guys to find your worth and fulfillment. The fact of the matter is they are guys and they will let you down in the same fashion that your dad has. No matter how beautiful you are or how far you will go with him, they will fail you. Give your heart to the Lord, pray for his protection and provision of the most valuable asset, your heart. And on the same token, ask the Lord to open your heart to the guy that is going to provide, protect and fight for it.
Maybe your dad is incredible; he is the most amazing man you know. Girls look to him as a standard not the standard. You’re dad had to start somewhere. Pray that the Lord would protect your heart and grant you wisdom in this area of your life.
The Lord’s desire for you is to worship Him with reckless abandon and when we allow ourselves to put the men in our life before God (or the desire for a man in your life), the Lord will always take second place and that man will become your idol. The Lord is your Father and pursuer of your heart. He knows you. Allow Him in. Trust Him. Follow Him.
Control and Emotions—
We are cray, cray. It’s a fact of life.
Women love control and live life off of rash emotions. In Genesis, after Adam and Eve have sinned, it says, “our hearts will be for our husbands.” John Piper explains it like this : When it says, “Your desire shall be for your husband,” it means that when sin has the upper hand in woman she will desire to overpower or subdue or exploit man. Our need for control, not only with the men in our life but in every area, is a result of the fall. We like knowing how things are going to happen, when they are going to happen, and we like for them to go in our favor. This is a breeding ground for the enemy and when we live our lives in this way we live in dissatisfaction, because the sobering reality is that we have absolutely no control.
We need to be sure to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ, filtering it through what we know is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. The desire to control and react based off of rash emotions essentially reflect distrust in God, because we have allowed culture to skew our image of the Lord. We see God through our humanity and not His holiness.
To sum it up—
All of these things (plus many more) are the result of our distrust in the Lord’s sovereignty and disbelief in the fact that He is for us. Ultimately the culture has tainted the way we view the Gospel and our calling as women. Complete surrender to being made more into the image of Christ is the only solution to the bondage our hearts face.
Hi! I’m Rachel Lindholm and I am in the business of men. I work for Authentic Manhood (think Men’s Fraternity and 33 The Series) located in Little Rock, AR, a organization dedicated to leading men to live the life of truth passion and purpose they were created to live. Although, I love all things manhood my heart beat is for leading a generation of girls to pursue Gospel centered womanhood. After all, the end result for both is to be made more into the image of Christ. You can find Rachel on Twitter here or check out her blog here.