These days, it seems that everyone is fighting to prove that women and men are the same. We don’t know how to define womanhood anymore; we have even forsaken a biological definition. A person can claim to be a woman just by declaring so or donning a few clothing items. There must be something deeper to being a woman than a pair of heels or a verbal declaration. If we are honest we can see that biological, spiritual, and mental differences all point to an intentional, unique design that makes women inherently different from men. God could have created us all homogenous, but He used two sexes to declare his glory to the world. He also declared it good! And living in accordance with God’s design brings life and joy. It is my goal over the next few months to highlight some unique aspects of womanhood. I think we need to continue to talk about what it means to be a woman, because on the whole many women are deeply confused about what it means to embrace femininity. Much of these posts will be based largely on the book Eve in Exile, written by Rebekah Merkle. I would highly encourage this for further reading on womanhood, as much of the book served as a jumping off point for this post. She flips on the light switch in defining womanhood, while the rest of our culture is stumbling about in a dark room on this issue.
Merkle states that women are designed to subdue, fill, help and glorify. One of the ways that we subdue or work in our world is through the act of translation. Merkle says, “ Women are born translators. We take principles, abstract ideas, and then put flesh on them”(143, Eve in Exile). We as women are translators of God’s grace and goodness in the world and we make it real and tangible for those around us. We, like Jesus, physically demonstrate the goodness of God. As women, we embody incarnational living, where grace spun in the kitchen turns into cinnamon rolls, fresh heirloom tomatoes, midnight baby feedings, willing passionate sex, among many other things. This brings new meaning to baking, gardening, carrying children, and using all of our other gifts to illustrate God’s goodness.
As women, God has uniquely gifted each of us to use our particular gifts to translate his grace and goodness to those around us: our family, friends and neighbors. Each woman has different gifts and skills that she can use to benefit those around her that display God’s glory uniquely, and while we are all doing the same thing (translating God’s goodness to those around us) the way that we do it will certainly look very different.
I have the pleasure of knowing many women—who are constantly using their gifts to illuminate the grace of God. One woman I know bakes the tastiest pan au chocolate (and other treats) for her family and neighbors. Her time in the kitchen yields full bellies, happy hearts, and great conversations over delicious food. Another woman I know is very creative in her compassion; she uses that creativity and has helped her daughter to make little crafts to sell to buy food for the homeless in our area. I know a woman who is one of the most hospitable women; I have eaten and partied at their house along with everyone else I know. Hundreds of people have benefited from her hospitality. I know another woman who takes photos and uses the money to rest well with her family, going on vacations and having intentional family days. She also takes photos for people in the church to capture special moments. Another woman I know loves literature, every book she has recommended to my children they LOVE. She makes knowledge incredible and reading come alive. Another woman I know is currently carrying her third baby while she takes care of two other little girls, her physical sacrifice and service to her family is grace to them. Another woman I know uses her gifts to educate her children, teaching them at home to understand and observe the glory of world that God has made. Another woman I know uses her patience and kindness to bless others—she is the quiet one at a party, but an intentional conversationalist, because she loves everyone and everyone is comfortable with her. Another woman I know puts her kids PJs in the dryer every night to make them warm and cozy before bed. This small act struck me—because her whole life is this way. She takes small things like this and makes her kids and others feel welcome in her life and in her home. She’s defining what “home” means for her kids later in life. Another woman I know is single, and instead of feeling alone and sad at Christmas fixed a large Christmas meal for others who had no one else to celebrate with. Another woman I know has a baby who doesn’t sleep through the night yet and every night she feeds him to the glory of God, sustaining another person through her sacrifice. Another woman I know paints beautifully and uses her art to point to the beauty of God and to make other people’s homes beautiful. Another woman does not yet have children and has watched almost all children in the church faithfully. Another woman I know gardens, and the fruit of that garden has fed many people including her own family and children. Another woman I know is an excellent seamstress and has helped teach others to sew and clothes her family and others that she knows. And these are just the women I know, not to mention the countless others that I don’t. I use this list not as an end-all-be-all or as a new “to do list” but to show how beautiful the design of God is. God’s definition of womanhood is not limiting. No, it is actually larger and more freeing than we have imagined!
So these examples beg the question: what are these women “translating” by their actions? First off they are showing that self-sacrifice is the truest form of love. They are pointing to Jesus’ sacrifice of laying his life down for us by laying down their life and talents for others. They are preaching the very heart of the gospel message: my life for yours. They are showing that their time is meant to be given. Our time is meant to be stewarded to God’s glory and by being creative in our talents, we show God’s glory to our families and friends. Therefore, because God has given us these gifts to steward, let us spur on one another with love and good works (Hebrews 10:24), working open handedly together to translate God’s goodness to the world. We do not hoard our gifts. We do not demand respect for them as the world might have us do with their marches and loud speakers. No, we open-handedly, every day translate God’s grace to the world in seemingly insignificant and small ways by giving of ourselves for others.
My question to you is how has God gifted you? How can you use those gifts to serve others? What translation are you sending to the world? Is it a gospel of grace or another false gospel?
Let me leave you with this quote from Eve in Exile: “Women are built to enflesh. To translate. Sometimes we do it without thinking, and sometimes we just can’t help it. We can take the love of a man and a woman and turn it into a fat little baby—a separate and distinct living picture of the oneness of his parents. We show our innate desire to beautify when we fix our hair, put on make up care about our clothes or our homes. We translate and enflesh when we take an abstract command like “hospitality” and turn it into a party with great music and good food. We embody, we enflesh, we multiply, and we transform cultures. Eve is fruitfulness” (122). Let us bear good fruit.