They Do Exist.

Sometimes, “Being A Woman” Makes Me Tired

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is by Kirsten Oliphant. She blogs at and tweets at @kikimojo. I read her submission with great relief and peace. It also reminded me a little of Hannah’s post, The Life I Discovered Inside of 13 Days Without Social Media. Enjoy the rest of your week, girlfriends! – Lauren

The past few months I have been branching out online, reading blogs and posts and sites that are a little outside the typical, comfortable easy space for me. It has been really enlightening to hear views from women I respect and admire about feminism, submission, marriage, oppression, and the Proverbs 31 woman. Many of these posts and voices are in complete disagreement with each other, which is great for making me think.

At first, I was taking in all these new ideas, mulling them over and letting them sort of steep in my head. I felt excited and energized and like I had so many things to think about, places I needed to grow.

But now I just feel tired.

Weary from the reading and the thinking and the weight of so many expectations of me – just one woman. According to these various voices:

– I am to be like the Proverbs 31 woman in all her success and busyness. Or, I am not to be like her, but to celebrate the victories in my day, small and large.

– I am to submit to and respect my husband. Or, I am to be his equal partner.

– I am to think of myself as my husband’s complement. Or, I am to think of myself as his exact equal, which is somehow not his complement.

– I should strive to be a homemaker. Or, I should strive for success wherever I feel gifted.

– I should dress myself in a way that doesn’t make men stumble. Or, I should know that it is a man’s responsibility to tame his lustful thoughts.

Do you feel tired yet?

I chose opposite viewpoints and over-simplified them just for the sake of example. In my reading, I have found that there are so many beliefs about who a good, godly woman should be – running all in between (and maybe outside) those polar points.

The bottom line, however, is that no matter what blog or viewpoint I was reading, I ended up feeling weighed down by expectations of being a Woman. Can I take a timeout?

I’m still not sure where I land on a lot of these ideas, but maybe I don’t want to pitch my tent in a camp with a title on it, whether that be complementarian, egalitarian, feminist, or something altogether different. I want a break from categories and expectations.

I want some rest in trying to interpret what every directive towards women in the Bible really means in today’s culture and in my life.

I want to take some time and stop thinking of who I need to be as a woman, and simply think of who Jesus wants me to be as a human being. As a follower. As a sinner, washed clean by his grace.

For this moment, that seems a big enough task without adding on top of that what kind of woman I am supposed to be.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” Paul says in Galatians 3:28. Why? As he tells us in the prior verses, this is because we have been clothed with Christ.

The outer trappings of our selves are colored with the inner trappings of a heart washed clean, belonging to Jesus. This clothing transcends gender and culture and position. It transcends denomination and affiliation and movement. For a brief time I can rest easy in this truth, shaking off that feeling of pressure to be the right kind of woman. No, my affiliation is ultimately with Jesus.

Paul is not saying that those things do not matter, only that underneath all the divisions we have a unity that transcends them all. For a time, I simply want to rest. I want to rest at the feet of Jesus while he speaks, not busying myself with other things, as significant as they may be. At his feet, I see the grace of one who crossed barriers and social constructs and religious expectations. I see the grace of one who touched the unclean, who put his own spit in the eyes of the blind, who let sinful women wipe his feet with their hair.

The view from down here is lovely, and when I’m looking up at him, I don’t need to worry about what kind of woman he wants me to be. I think that he is pleased with me being right here at his feet in worship and adoration, in intimacy. I can just be.

I greatly appreciate all the smart, thinking women who are so eloquent in their written thoughts about womanhood. I will continue to read their blogs and posts and tweets. I’m not saying that womanhood isn’t extremely significant, or that affiliations and identity and persuasions do not matter. I simply need a break every now and then to put them in perspective.

My identity, beyond that of womanhood, is as a person of God.

So I am taking a break for a moment to get back to the well itself, from which I can drink deep, be refreshed, and then dive back into the fray of diverse thought on what it means to be a woman.

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39 Responses

  1. Kelsey

    Words can't quite describe how much I agree with this article. I attend a Christian university as an English major where feminism is brought up frequently. It's gotten to a point where I want to be recognized as a human and be a human whom God loves and who is meant to glorify Him, regardless of the fact at I'm a woman or not. Thank you for this.

    March 6, 2013 at 12:42 pm

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

    I too, have become exhausted and overwhelmed at times by the seemingly constant rhetoric of debate about what a true "godly woman" is like. Also, I'm tired of what seems to me to be an overemphasis within the church on women being godly, while there tends to be a deficit of discussion about what it means to be a godly man.

    Gender issues (both within and outside of the church) do matter. In fact, I'm quite passionate about and have done a good deal of study on this subject. However, when our thoughts and our perspectives of ourselves become so eclipsed by discussion of these tertiary issues, it can be inadvertently detrimental to all of us. We must remember that we are all first, and most importantly, valuable and loved children of God. Secondly, we are all humans, created equal & precious in His sight.

    Thanks for stepping back and reminding me that underneath all the interesting, valuable, yet sometimes overwhelming life banter is the truth that Jesus love me for me. I needed that today.

    March 6, 2013 at 1:21 pm

  3. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
    thank you

    March 6, 2013 at 1:36 pm

  4. Michelle

    I can attest to you all, I have been both the righteous Christian women for over 15 years and then the diametrically opposite for the fact of being betrayed the second time in my life by infidelity. The truth is ladies, what you look like does count and men are incredibly physical and they’re incredibly visual -they are interested in sex and they do not care so much about God. If you don’t believe me, go look in the churches and see how many husbands make excuses not to be at services. If you don’t believe me, see how many women aren’t there alone With their children believing that what they do makes a difference when I found out for certain, it does not matter. Be honest to your true self and do not be anyone who you are not. Live peacefully with all men and try and be as righteous as you can – but have a little bit of fun because life is short And your men aren’t buying into what you are-Trust me, I’ve done my research.

    March 6, 2013 at 3:23 pm

  5. Beautifully and respectfully written piece. I love the way you delicately point us to Jesus and do not deemphasize the importance of knowing how to relate to one another. I don't really think being a woman mattered to me, until I got married, and then it mutiplied when I became a mom. How do I relate to my husband? Do I tell him what to do or submit to his final authority after giving input, or do we just vote every time we disagree? I have chosen submission after giving my input and it has made our marriage so much more peaceful and him so much more of a strong man in the home and at his work. Do I go out and work with ideas and large groups, as my giftings are apt to lead me or do I stay home and give most of my time to my children, their nutrition/discipleship/education needs, or do I hire others to do it for me or do I do both at the same time? I have chosen home life, even though I know my "big dreams" and "giftings" is in working with adults and with ideas and being with children requires repetitive patience in mundane tasks. But it has made all the difference in their lives, and in my personal relationship with Jesus, as I must hold on to him soo much more for my daily bread, as I am not strong but weak in my motherhood. Yet, I came to all of these decisions because of Bible verses I read and people who I respected their marriages, family life, and children, and their interpretation of these scriptures. I do think we should not be tired, but ask the Lord for wisdom what to focus on in each stage of life. In the stage of life with children and a husband, that means I don't work or make my dreams the majority of my focus. Yet, I am not tired, but at peace, because it is an even life I lead, one with good rest/work rhythms. In trying to be all, sometimes we can become nothing, and not experience the goodness, unique as it is, that God gives us as women in each season of our womanhoood.

    March 6, 2013 at 3:49 pm

  6. Annie

    Amen girl!

    March 6, 2013 at 5:37 pm

  7. Oh my gosh, I'm seriously about to cry reading this. It's so much of what I have felt lately- in fact, I almost *didn't* read this post because I just didn't feel like I had the energy to take in anything else. I need a rest too.

    March 6, 2013 at 6:24 pm

  8. Ashley McCord

    Thank you. I feel so bogged down by the expectations on me sometimes. This makes me feel like its ok to take a break from all of that. Thank you so much.

    March 6, 2013 at 6:35 pm

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  10. JWalker

    This is SO spot on. I have felt the same things and I really appreciate this post. My favorite line was "For a brief time I can rest easy in this truth, shaking off that feeling of pressure to be the right kind of woman." I have always felt so much pressure to understand my role as a female, being tugged between the side of the Proverbs 31 woman, the woman who submits to her husband while he loves her like Christ loved the church, the strong independent feminist, and various other directions. It is a great reminder that while these divisions exist in society (and the church) and probably aren't going to go away for awhile – we still have Jesus, to rest with, and to be.

    Thank you, again!

    March 6, 2013 at 10:57 pm

  11. Lauren

    I don’t normally read this site but via a tweet came accross this post.
    I so needed to hear this. thank you.

    March 7, 2013 at 5:53 am

  12. Love. This is why I had to pull back from reading too many blogs and such…. it just gets exhausting! Thank you for this.

    March 7, 2013 at 11:42 pm

  13. Rebecca W

    Needed this today. Thank you!

    March 8, 2013 at 2:41 pm

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  15. yvonne

    im in the age of thinking where i really need change the way i look to fit the people around me, and as a woman..when i read this article, its like wow..i forgot that what i want is to be a person that Jesus wans me to be..thank u once again..

    March 11, 2013 at 12:55 pm

  16. Cheryl

    Yes! What a wonderful post. I really appreciate your words. It strikes me that a lot of these tiring things are related to what we do and how we relate to others – our work in the world or in the home, our relationships with our kids, spouses, etc. All of those things are important, but sometimes we need to put the 'doing' on hold and just be. Then we can really focus on God, and take Jesus up on his offer to rest in him.

    March 11, 2013 at 8:32 pm

  17. Rosie

    I absolutely agree, I had a similar feeling last year and decided that I needed to have a 'fast' from reading blogs and just commit to reading my bible. Reading this has reminded me of that! Things can get so complicated!

    March 13, 2013 at 10:52 am

  18. Courtney

    This is a wonderful post and wonderfully written! I have struggled with the same problem – it gets tiring reading all the things we are "supposed" to be. As a woman, as a Christian woman, as a Christian, as an employee at a Christian non-profit….all of these roles seem to hold such great expectations. And all the expectations are different depending on who I am talking to on which day. A few months ago I decided to also "take a break", but the break never ended. Instead, I wake up each day and pray for direction and God's clear presence in all my interactions. Not saying it's perfect, but the approach works for me.
    I don't try to be perfect in any of those roles. I just try to be open to whatever God is calling me to do in each and every moment. Sometimes I think I might even get it right! :)

    March 13, 2013 at 11:54 am

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  20. Mary O

    This is literally perfect.

    April 26, 2013 at 1:11 pm

  21. Deanne

    I haven't read any of the other comments, so I don't know if I am repeating anything. I too have struggled with what it means to be a "Biblical Woman." What I thought it was years ago is being challenged by the me I am today. You are wise to sit at the feet of the Master. When he directs, move. Focusing on being a person who follows Christ is also wise. There are a few directives for women in the Bible, and hard to interpret at times in view of to whom and when and why it was written. There are so many directives to all people who are Christ followers that are more clear cut. These are things that we can be sure about and will take a life time to work on doing them, and will be challenged all through life in how to fit these directives in various situations. Sitting at Jesus feet, your on to the bulls eye! I need to be reminded of that all the time. I get it and then loose it; being sort of like the spiritual Dory of Finding Nemo.

    Reading people's writings can be invigorating and exhausting all at the same time. I have come to that point too. I have learned that people write from their personality, successes, and life experience. Because of this, we all write from a perspective. It's like looking at a finish Rubik's Cube, one side is red, another is blue, but each side is a view of the cube.

    What is awesome about you is that you are thinking,asking questions, and going to Jesus with them. His way for you is the right way. Being a woman is a challenge and a joy. It's like the whole salted, chocolate, carmel craze; being a woman has many flavors and when mixed all together it is quiet delightful!

    October 8, 2013 at 7:41 pm

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  34. Helen

    Beautifully written :) I admire the success of other women, but I always feel I don't need to be like them. I like working with okay salary, spending time with my family and doing what I love. That's all :)
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