These thoughts are in no way polished yet, but I am still trying to work through them. I’m posting this because I am weary, weary of advice that says that the only way to have value as a woman is to work harder, be better, last longer, and climb higher on the ladder of professional success. I want to continue to work through these ideas and post a more polished version here, but I desperately needed to encourage myself with this truth today.
I have noticed a trend (as have others I am sure) that women looking for a deeper sense of self-worth often trade stereotypically “feminine” idols with stereotypically “masculine” idols. Tim Keller helps us to identify an example of this and unpack the idea of “feminine” idols and “masculine” idols.
*This excerpt is taken from Tim Keller’s Counterfeit Gods. If you haven’t read it please do so! Here in his chapter on love and acceptance Keller tells a story of Sally, who has lived most of her life trying to please men and be loved and accepted by them.
“Sally told me how she got her life back. She went to a counselor who rightly pointed out that she had been looking to men for her identity for her “salvation.” Instead, the counselor proposed, she should get a career and become financially independent as a way of building up her self-esteem. The woman [Sally] agreed wholeheartedly that she needed to stand on her own two feet economically, but she resisted the advice about finding self-esteem. “I was being advised to give up common female idolatry and take on a common male idolatry” she said. “But I didn’t want to have my self-worth dependent on career success any more than on men. I wanted to be free.”
Where is the freedom or hope in that counselor’s advice? Ladies, if any of you can identify with this conversation, know that identity is deeper than people encouraging you to be more successful or to put all your hope [and salvation] in a career, family, or anything else.
Rather, real, lasting, never-giving up, eternal, thirst-quenching, true Freedom is found here:
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. [Romans 8: 1-24]
There is our hope, our salvation, our identity, our self-worth, our freedom.