This gratitude has been a journey for me. For years I had this fear that being “feminine” meant I had to turn off my brain. I worried that it meant I always had to wear pink. I squirmed with thinking I had to just nod and smile meekly. I remember feeling conflicted. I had equated femininity with a very narrow box of traits and behaviors. To engage in any of those damned traits meant I was betraying myself.
One day that box shattered.
As the false beliefs were revealed, I felt a new freedom to be me. A woman. And the myriad of ways my femininity can be expressed.
So, I put on my ruffliest pink dress and curled my hair.
No, but I didn’t feel shame in wearing a dress when I felt like it. I didn’t feel guilt when I had new eye shadow that I was excited about. Neither did I stop reading theology or speaking my opinions (stepping onto the proverbial soap box).
My lens was expanded.
This project started as a passing thought. It would be fun to invite a bunch of my female friends to write for the blog…when is women’s history month? (Sadly it took me a moment to remember the month).
As I sat with the idea, it blossomed into this interesting project. As women we tend to stuff ourselves into these tiny boxes attached to the roles we have in life. Mom. Wife. Sister. Daughter. Working woman. Working mom. Stay at home mom. Single. Married. Married with kids. Married without kids. It’s easy to get trapped in those confined spaces. Yet, we are much more than little boxes. If we are created by the God of the universe, than surely in his infinite power and creativity he has crafted more than mere one-dimensional beings. In speaking of humans, the psalmist praises God for the intricacy in which he has created mankind: Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. (Psalm 8:5 ESV)
Have you ever heard descriptions of angels? Multiple heads, wings, fierce warriors. To be honest, I would be petrified to come across an angel. And we are just a little lower than the angels themselves?
We weren’t made for these little boxes, yet we so often find ourselves enslaved to the roles we’ve been given (or have sought out). We then attack the women who are in boxes different than our own. I see myself do it all the time…mostly in passive aggressive ways, hid in a cloak of academic ponderings. It’s “interesting” to see the way my generation has wholeheartedly embraced the New Domesticity. When really, we attack others because of our insecurities. I am not settled, so I will take down another to elevate my role. I wonder if our insecurity comes partially out of a deeper knowledge that we are more than our boxes. I mean, our brokenness keeps us in our boxes, but somewhere deep in our hearts we know that we are not just _______. We cannot step out of these boxes without having a vision of what that could look like.
We need to expand our vision. We need to envision larger horizons.
We are not called to express our femininity in the same way. Expressing our uniqueness helps to create a multifaceted landscape through which our very lives give vision to what could be and to how big our God is. As a result, we also welcome our younger generations to think wider.
Yet, to expand our vision on our own is impossible. Vision can only be widened when it’s done so in partnership with God, whose vision is limitless. Amy Simpson wrote a brilliant article last year in which she used an economic principle of scarcity to describe how women in the church perceive and respond to the lack of leadership roles for their gender. The shift for our gender is not to fight others selfishly, but to look to God, through whom all things are possible, where resources are never lacking. And it is from that foundation that we can work together as women.
We need God and we need each other.
That is my hope. That as women we would stop competing and instead look onward, creating together larger horizons which are only possible because of God. This series, which I’ve called Expand, is an invitation for you to step into the questions of what it means to be woman.
I am delighted at the writers, well more than writers, dear friends, who are lending their voices to this project. I realize we cannot capture the myriad of experiences of women in the world, but I hope that this gives even the tiniest glimpse of the diversity that exists. And that we would celebrate the beauty in which God has created us.
If you’re into social media world, I’m using the hashtag #expandwhm for this series. You can follow me on Twitter @jenmanglos