This is the first post in our series “Discovering God, Discovering Womanhood, Discovering Me,” written to help women learn more about themselves and their relationship with God as they delve into what it means to be a woman of faith.
Meaning. Identity. Purpose. What do these mean for women today?
I used to let other people tell me who I was, and who I was supposed to be. Not always directly – I wasn’t a pushover – but I had a subtle tendency to act according to my environment and audience, also known as my friends. I allowed influences from my surroundings to determine the expectations I must live up to as a young woman living in the 21st century.
I was bringing different sides of me to each conversation, hiding things about myself (including what I believed) to one person, while proudly sharing that same side of me to another. I wasn’t free. I wasn’t “myself.” And trying to fit into everyone else’s patterns just didn’t fit.
I was so tired of keeping up with the different versions of me that I began craving a different way of life. I longed to be my full and true self in an authentic way, but I didn’t know where to begin. I had to ask myself, who am I? What does it mean to be a young, single woman today in modern culture, and still be me? And what does God have to do with any of this?
As I started to ask myself these questions, I realized that the answers were all external. I was defining myself by my school, my work, my relationships, and my activities, but everything fell short. None of it seemed concrete, and I longed for a definition of self that surpassed something that could be changed or even lost. I needed to go deeper.
Going deeper eventually led me to the only thing I knew to be bigger than myself or anything else: God.
Although I admitted that God was something bigger than myself, I had never seriously considered before that God was more than universal. That He is personal. Little did I know that the answers I was searching for about my identity and purpose are found in who God has proven Himself to be. I just hadn’t allowed Him to prove it to me yet.
It was much more difficult than I expected to believe that God…
Really was calling out to me,
Longs to show me my purpose,
And has already defined my value.
And I’m still listening, I’m still learning. Learning to listen takes time, and for me it wasn’t one moment of conversion or sudden turn around. In my case, when you’re used to listening to the instant answers of the “5 Steps to Happiness” or “30 Days to the Perfect Body,” it’s like you have to learn a new language to begin listening to the voice of God in prayer.
But when I began to listen and seek out the voice of the Lord before looking to anything or anyone else to measure myself against, I found that His voice and reassurance of my dignity was the only thing that satisfied. I found joy in the identity of being carefully chosen by God as His own. Now claimed by Christ’s death and resurrection, my past and future are redeemed.
This journey hasn’t been one steady uphill progression. Believing in these truths can become difficult, and I’ll forget about God’s deepest desire for me, to love and be loved by Him.
Often I fall back into trying to meet an idealistic image of womanhood, losing myself by worrying how I will be received by others based on what my appearance or “status” says about myself. I’ll find myself mindlessly scrolling through the Internet or scanning the lives (and Facebook & Instagram profiles) of “ideal women” around me, wondering what they have that I’m missing. When I’m tempted to compare my real life to another person’s digitized life, I’m compromising myself, and them. I compromise myself by only looking at my faults, and compromise these other women by only seeing them for the image they’re portraying on social media. It’s not fair either way.
The root of all of this is that I’ve been looking to others to determine and define meaning for my life while neglecting to see my own value and worth.
If anything here has resonated with you or your experience, welcome.
You are welcome here.
I allowed my imperfections and faults to be the center of my focus, while losing sight of all that God is offering me: a new heart, a new self image, a new future, which is all regardless of everything in my life that I think would prevent Him from loving me. God showed me that value and worth is already ours. Value and worth are not “earned” from the sum of our actions, but come from who God created us to be, in His own image. Because if He is good, if He is true, if He is worthy, then our good, our truth, and our worth is in Him. What else is deeper? What else will remain?
He made us good out of love so that we could love like Him. And why do we love? So we in turn be can in communion with Him, who is love.
With love we can see past the external and sometimes superficial meanings, identities, and purposes to our lives. Equipped with the truth about who God is, we can embrace what it means to be our true selves.
I’m on a journey to rediscover the dignity of women, and to more deeply know the One who created us. I’ve listened to the lies of the world, and I want to start listening and believing truth. I want to start living a life of love. I now know that only God has a unique, all-encompassing plan and promise for you and me, as women, and it’s time I allow that to transform me.
Will you join me? Go deeper.
What would our lives look like if we lived knowing our inherent dignity as women, apart from what we think makes us an exception to God’s love? What would change in our lives and hearts if we let God’s voice of approval wash over us?
I’m going to take some time to seriously ask myself these questions in order to examine what I think is holding me back from God’s love. Jesus asks us in John Chapter 15 of the Bible to abide in His love at all times, and He doesn’t want us to wait. I invite you to join me in reflecting where you’ve previously “abided,” the places you have gone to in hopes of finding answers and fulfillment, but have instead left you wanting. My hope for you and me is that we can bring these desires and longings to the Lord, asking that He will meet us in our hearts that He made and to fill us with His love. And that filled with His love, we would recognize our inherent dignity, beauty, and value.