Editor’s Note: Today’s post by Taylor is on a topic that really fascinates me. Most women in the Bible had radically strong and “vocal” spirits, yet many of us are raised to be quiet, introverted, and ‘gentle.’ I grew up believing that I didn’t have a gentle spirit and I needed to fix myself, until multiple close friends insisted I was a quiet person. Whatever side of the fence you fall on, be careful when you let others speak into what kind of spirit you should have as a person, or as a gender. It can alter your life. Taylor blogs here and tweets at @tayholder. – Lauren
There really aren’t many things that annoy me more than gender stereotypes, and that’s mainly because I just don’t feel like I fit into any of them. Specifically, the ones the traditional Church has promoted.
In my eyes, I am too opinionated. I’m too loud. Too strong. Too tall. Just too much. I just need to be more dainty. No matter how hard I try, my car ends up being a mess. Maybe I should pluck my eyebrows more regularly… yeah, I probably should.
Over the past 6 years that I’ve had a relationship with Christ, I’ve had many victories, disappointments, lessons learned, heart aches, and relapses. The beautiful thing is that Grace has always been there to pick me up. Every single time. And somehow we just keep on trucking, together.
But somewhere along the line, I stopped being the too-strong girl.
That loud, obnoxious one who wore the puke shade of orange and argued ’til she was blue in the face about why Phil Fulmer and the whole Clausen family could all go to hell (For those of you who don’t know, that’s a football thing).
It first hit me a couple months ago when I was told, for the first time ever, that I’m kind of a quiet person. I was taken aback. Quiet? Me? No. Then again, yesterday, when I said to a friend, “I just have too strong of a personality,” he quickly refuted it.
Where did that girl go? And when? Is she forever gone? Is that even a good thing?
I think in the end, it all depends on why she left. Was she transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit? Or was she scared off by insecurity and a need for approval in this new community? A new community in which women look very different than she used to look.
Bottom line is that yes, I think we can all agree that the girl who willed sports players to eternal damnation can kick rocks, but why is the opposite of her a quiet girl to the extent that she’s a coward?
Why can’t the opposite of her be a strong-willed girl who is loud for the right causes?
Like the cause of justice? Of truth? Of grace and love, in a culture filled with judgement? Can I use my loud-ness in favor of Love?
I haven’t become that girl. Somewhere along the line, expectation reached out and grabbed me. And I didn’t even put up a fight, believing that the expectation came from those around me, who pointed fingers at me, or whispered about me behind my back. And it came from me too. I joined in and threw rocks at myself in judgement, while Jesus stood in the gap, drew lines in the sand, and defended me from my own hatred.
When I’d become a Christian, I’d resolved to know who I had to be so that I’d fit into the church. Who I had to be in order to have a Christian man desire me, value me, and even want to keep me around.
I was so far from being that kind of girl, and I hated myself for it.
Instead of going after Christ whole-heartedly, half of me was always stuck on being a better woman, or at least my perception of a better woman. I kept wondering when Jesus was going to transform me into the perfect Christian friend and wife.
All I wanted was to be a different person than I who was before I knew Christ, but I took it to the extreme, and in the end I kind of lost myself. Not completely, though. Sometimes the “old me” comes out, but I’ve resented her, and have quickly reprimanded her.
Sometimes, I still get a little loud. I feel like it’s the old me that comes out and fights and fights. Sometimes trivially, and sometimes for the best reasons.
Sometimes she says, “MEN, WOMEN ARE NOT DISPOSABLE.”
Sometimes she screams, “STOP RUNNING TO THAT THING, IT WILL NEVER SATISFY YOU.”
But this week I realized that maybe that girl isn’t the old me, maybe it IS still the new me. The me who is in Christ, but is still just me, “The too-tall girl from the wrong side of the tracks.” (If you know that reference, you get me.)
I can’t wait to get to the place where I can put down expectation and be who God has made me.
I want to be her fully.
A woman with a quiet spirit, but not always a quiet mouth. A woman who has a really weird, goofy, over-the-top side. A woman who likes to debate, but is open to being wrong. A woman who challenges those around her, hoping they will challenge her back, because at the end of the day, she just really wants to learn. A woman who always wants to be the best version of herself.
Maybe this girl doesn’t fit into the perfect gender role molds, and maybe that’s okay.
Editor’s Note: For today’s post, we’re sharing something a little different. Carole Chege, one of our beautiful readers, lives in Kenya. This Valentine’s Day, she went to the slums in Ngong town and took dozens of red roses with her. She knows most of them by name, and spent her day handing out roses – reminding people that they are loved, not forgotten, and cared for. This is Carole’s daily life, and she is incredible. Below are her words, some of the photos from the day, and a link to her entire Facebook album. Be moved. – Lauren
I’ve been meaning to write to Good Women Project for a while, but I always figured I don’t have the words to articulate myself.
As women from around the world with different cultures, we all have differences. So similar and so different.
This year I had my greatest and most fun Valentine’s. My main need to share is that I hope other women see beyond the “Africa and poverty” mentality; it’s much deeper than that. Love is all the same, whether done in wealth or in poverty. The truth is there are also extremely poor people in US, the UK and many other places. It’s about love. Not continents.
Hope I can share my story in pictures, am sure the women will blessed. Valentine’s is so much more than lovers day.”
– Carole Chege
Editor’s Note: This incredible, incredible post was written by Billye Wynn. She is one-half of Wyatt & Wynn, the authors of the upcoming book, The Last Beholder. You can follow them at wyattandwynn.com or on Twitter at @wyattandwynn. And PS, you MUST follow them. They are full of surprises. – Lauren
When I was a little girl, there were two things a person could say about a female: you were either pretty or charming. Now that I’m grown, and now that I have grandchildren, I am made aware by the spectrum of beauty, intelligence, wit, and inner being that is constantly hovering over the heads of every waking woman at all times during the day.
We mentally assign numbers to creatures of hidden holiness as we interact with them. I do it every day. My daughter comes in and her hair is atrocious. I slide her “beauty” marker over to “needs improvement”. She says something complimentary about my wit and her “intelligence” marker moves to the “in perfect order” area.
This practice was, as most practices are, most likely taught to us by people in our lives that didn’t have the emotional capacity to properly see us. Someone we desperately loved couldn’t love us back the perfect way we held up in our hearts, and the measurement system popped up over our heads.
If you had any sort of decent parenting at all, you certainly heard the words: “you are fine, just the way you are” at some point during your childhood. This came from a person who wanted to shield you from the measuring system, who wanted to implant goodness and truth and beauty in your brain before the Kardashians could worm their way in there.
Unfortunately, the Kardashians are very wormy.
Because, truth be told, even if someone has managed to set you straight, the world is constantly yelling at you that you’re wonderful, and what a great personality you have, but it’s whispering lies to you. And although lies about beauty and physical appearance are the foremost criminals, there are more subtle lies: lies about your heart, lies about your mind, and lies about your soul, which if not stopped, will create cracks in you that can only be absolved by death, cracks that you will carry with you and use to form a half-life for yourself, until you die, and Jesus holds your face in his hands and tells you the Truth.
And a beautiful thing about the Gospel of our Lord is that we are okay. Scripture upon scripture of being formed by his hands, of being known before birth, of being made in His image, of wearing the mark of the Holy Spirit upon us. And we, as believers, know that Jesus is perfecting us, daily, hourly, by the minute, but the hard part is stepping out of our homes and into the world, and steeling yourself against the agents of death that seem to skip ahead of us everywhere we go.
You are okay, but it’s not okay.
It doesn’t take a Tesla or a Twain or a Tennyson to tell us that the world is in pieces, shattered and shredded beyond man’s repair. There is poverty (which, in most cases, is not the noble of cinema or our minds, but soul-crushing and unbearable, causing mothers to make decisions that you or I could never dwell upon), there is jealousy, there is greed, there is resentment, there is a void of forgiveness, of courage to stand against these things. And it seems that even the people who do try and help are but drops of water in the ocean, and no one can ever seem to find the answer to the all the pain. Even the religious, who claim that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life can’t seem to offer more than platitudes and a feeble (yet hopeful) promise that all shall be well, one day, probably too far off to even see right now.
And that’s just the sickness inside the nations and civilizations, to speak nothing of our own hearts. Even the best of us harbor black thoughts that fester inside of us, hemming and hawing at our attempts of goodness. The world, and souls who have been tainted by the world, come at our inner selves with scrapers and chippers, ready to bruise, ready to steal, and hoping to devour so that they will not feel so bone-shatteringly alone.
This world and its inhabitants are not okay. You are okay, but it’s not okay.
These two truths vibrate in the universe as opposite magnetized forces. How can we be okay, and everything in the world, and in our own hearts, be so powerfully and painfully wrong? The answer is not easy. It comes in the form of one of those platitudes I spoke of earlier, which is in fact not a heavenly brush off, but the key to why we feel so tired, so sick, and so broken.
“I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:10-11)
Our hearts were not made for this realm. Our souls are constantly pressing against the constraints set upon it the moment Adam and Eve took the first bites and our feelings of malaise and malcontent haunt us, because we’re butterflies flopping about in a mason jar, when the true world is behind unbreakable glass and warped in our vision.
It’s possible (probable, really) that God is set above time, outside of it, so that He isn’t bothered with it. Which means that while we’re here on earth, we feel the tug of our true selves, set outside of time, already in communion with the Lord, the time when we are truly and finally okay. But since we live within time and the various spaces it occupies, we continue to fruitlessly throw our bodies against the glass, knowing that something else is there, but unable to truly see it, unable to take part.
So you are okay. You are okay because God has chosen you. Because Jesus Christ was so desperately in love with you, and eager to have you as a co-heir in the Kingdom of Heaven, and because the grace and glory of God is too much for anyone to bear, that he died for you, because while you’re okay, you’re not okay. But that’s okay. Because you’ve been redeemed, you’re a precious lamb that is worth more than angels, you have value, you have worth.
But the world is broken beyond repair other than by way of a miracle. And praise God, that miracle is coming. It will be here one day, and we will see His face, and His hands will wipe tears away, and the Truth will hold us tightly.
Reject the measurement system. It has no place hanging over any woman’s head who calls upon the name of the Lord. Know that you’re okay. But it’s not okay. But soon, it will be.
A good woman is honest. She tells the truth; first to herself and then to her audience no matter how big or small.
With honest eyes, a good woman looks within herself and tells the truth about what she finds.
She gives thanks for the good, rejoices in them and makes them better.
She takes responsibility for the bad and quests to make them good.
She smiles at the beautiful and acknowledges that they are the reflection of The Creator.
She seizes the ugly, from its source, roots it out, and receives in its stead, beauty for ashes.
A good woman tells the truth about her knowledge, escapades, proclivities, gifts, talents, and abilities; no false modesty here. She arms herself with these, leaving behind a powerful legacy for those in her wake.
She exposes her dark places, moments of tragedy and shame. Welcoming the influx of light sets her free. Her head is lifted and she leads the way for the others drawn from hiding by her transparency. (more…)
Editor’s Note: Feminism has constantly changed and evolved over the last 60 years, making it difficult to tackle appropriately. Because of the hundreds of variations of its definition, discussions get messy and the heart of the matter is frequently missed. In my opinion, it has always been a double edged sword. It has both saved and destroyed. I have avoided discussing it at all costs because of this, but as facilitating a never-ending discussion on womanhood has recently become my career, I cannot ignore it. I touched on it in a post about Gender Roles a couple weeks ago over on my own blog; feel free to read if you wish.
Megan Riggs, wife, mother & business woman, volunteered to share a bit of the role feminism has played in her life and relationships. She is an Exhibitor and the Sponsorship Manager for Washington State PTA, the Development Chair for a girls camp, & the Benefit Coordinator for a 501(c)3 that presents the world’s largest Comedy/Variete festival. Oh, and she blogs & tweets, all while still being supermom. I love what she has to say, and am slowly learning the same things in my own life. Realizing that it’s not quite exactly about a political statement. It’s about being a strong woman, finding a strong man, and becoming better together. – Lauren
Can I be a wife and a mother and still be my feminist self?
Growing up, I wasn’t sure that I could retain my sense of self, my autonomy and independence, and pursue my own interests if I was married. I was convinced that being a mother would further strip me of my sense of self and my ability to pursue my interests. My concept of feminism – and of myself – was wrapped up in independence, self-preservation, proving myself, succeeding and being indispensable in my work.
My idea of feminism probably isn’t “typical”, and I came about it in an odd way. A balding, professional man in his 50’s inspired me to call myself a feminist. Let me explain. I was raised by parents who expected me to go to college, get a good job, support myself and work hard. They told me that if I worked hard enough I could accomplish close to anything. I didn’t think that a girl or a woman’s value was any different than a boy’s or man’s, but I didn’t like to call myself a feminist. Then in college I had a history professor who called himself a staunch feminist. It surprised me to hear it from a man – my idea of feminism was unruly women burning their bras and fighting against men for what they believe in. But here was a man, identifying himself to a class of college students as a feminist. What? I realized that feminist, while the easiest term to use, is really not quite the right word for my version of feminism – my version being that women are equal. It’s really more of being a “personist” than a “feminist”, but as a woman I’m also happy to call myself a feminist, even while wearing a bra – a nursing bra, nonetheless. (more…)
Joy Eggerichs of LoveAndRespectNOW.com has graciously agreed to do a Question & Answer post with the Good Women Project. Instead of giving her a list of my own questions, I wanted to let you women (and men) ask the questions yourselves.
So, if you could ask Joy one thing, what would it be?
Please leave your question in the comments below.
And, if you aren’t familiar with Joy, go stalk her now.
She also gave me permission to share her videos* on emotional pornography with you. The first (she does Q&A on her blog) is her answer to a woman’s question on having an emotional connection with her first boyfriend arise years later into her healthy marriage. The second is her breakdown of emotional pornography; what it is, what it does, & how it can affect our relationships just as much as sex addiction and traditional pornography.
I’ll be honest with you: It was a slap in my face. It’s definitely worth 10 minutes of your time.
>> Joy’s original post on this here.
>> And Joy’s original post on this one here.
*Videos: Joy Eggerichs references some biblical concepts & verses in her discussion on emotional pornography. Regardless of your spiritual or religious beliefs, I firmly believe that our hearts, minds and lives are still affected by emotional pornography, so it is my hope that you will consider it appropriately.
Much love! – Lauren
Editor’s Note: I’ve decided to pepper the Good Women Project with snapshots of what a good woman looks like, as defined by our readers. Today’s snapshot was written by Meg Sonnenberg. She’s been a consistent flash of awesomeness in my life over the last few months, and one of the sweetest, most hardworking girls I know. She’s the Creative Director of 20 Best Twenty, runs a wedding planning business at 29 Peonies, Tumblr’s at Megsonn, & tweets at @megroso. Follow her, get to know her, and continue to surround yourself with good women. And thank you, Megan, for being both sugar and salt to me. Love you for that. – Lauren
She looks like you, and you, and you. She looks like that slightly frazzled girl in the mirror, when she knows she is going to be late getting out the door. But hey, it’s okay. We all know perfect hair days take some time.
A Good Woman, to me, looks like the greatest balancing act of all time. A little bit of spice, along with the sweetest intentions. A Good Woman is not the nicest, nor is she meanest. She is her best friend’s emergency phone call at 4 am, her mother’s life long shopping companion, and her husband’s number one fan. A Good Woman isn’t perfect, but she knows she is perfectly her.
A Good Woman makes mistakes, but that also means she tries. She gets knocked down, she doesn’t have the best luck all the time, she over analyzes things, she is a true mess of emotions, she is human. A Good Woman also knows that persistence pays off, that the worst people can tell her is ‘no’, that if you dream it, it honestly can happen, and that surrounding herself with optimism is key. She is goal oriented and independent. But she doesn’t mind company, oh no, she loves company.
Last summer, Max wrote A Gentleman’s Guide to the 21st Century. For me, it was a massive slap in the face. I had forgotten that men like this were around. I knew that I’d started to settle & I’d already started working on that, but this reminded me that it was an all or nothing deal.
I was raised with high expectations for men, and in high school was blessed to be around extraordinarily good guys. No, seriously. I lived in a bubble that most of you will never experience. A bubble where all of my guy friends held the door open for us girls, took the lead at the dance parties we threw for every single one of our birthdays (and kept their hands in the right places), dropped all profanity when we were in the room, and never tried to ‘get with us’ unless they had a damn good date planned. I successfully made it through high school without ever having even kissed a guy.
Fast forward three or four years and I had been completely and entirely convinced that these guys were gone. I couldn’t tell you how many guys I’d kissed. I’d have to ask you the definition of kissed if you asked that question. Did it mean making out, or did it include the intoxicated kisses around the room too? I remember sitting on the edge of my bed at one point and piecing this thought together: “I know what I’m worth. The man that deserves me does not exist. So, I’ll just take what I want from him, and I won’t feel guilty. I can’t get what I need so I’ll just take what I want. What feels good. For ME.” (more…)
Editor’s Note: This submission is by Kaleigh Somers, a girl I adore and who blogs here and tweets here. At 21 years old, I am beyond impressed with her insight; she is marked by passion. It is my goal in this project to include the worldviews and wisdom of women (and men) of every age and background on being and becoming a good woman. I asked her to throw some thoughts at me on this topic, and I love what she gave me. Thank you for reading.
It’s my firm belief that being a woman in this world is a unique opportunity. For one thing, we have the option to wear skirts or pants. For another, we have the ability to bear a child, linking ourselves with a human being growing inside us for nine months and forming an unparalleled connection with them. But it’s more than that. It’s something huge that maybe we don’t think about, but should celebrate.
For as far back as human history dates, “women” as a defined group of people has changed. Evolving quite rapidly, it seemed, in the height of the feminist movement. We’ve changed how we dress, act and speak. How we contribute to society. And it’s led me to the conclusion that there might not be one “right” definition of women. Of course there isn’t. There shouldn’t be. Because being a woman is a multi-faceted, multi-dimensional job. A full-time occupation for which we’re not getting paid any extra. And we know that, but we don’t care.
And if someone were to write the phrase “good woman” on her resume — a phrase that should undoubtedly be considered worth adding to our list of qualifications for jobs, internships and the like — a potential employer might smile and nod and think that’s nice, but probably wouldn’t be able to pinpoint some concrete definition for it.
Being a good woman means so many things to so many different people. Not just to other women, but to men as well. There are endless dimensions and directions with which to take that phrase. (more…)