I have come to find, as have many other ladies young and old, that it can often be quite difficult as a woman to discover one's role in the church, home, and, well, the world. Maybe it's because femininity is powerful stuff, it has the potential to inspire. Or is it the fear of extremes, since anything bursting at the seams, even with a good thing, tends to scare us off.
See, as women striving to bring about the kingdom, we don't want our femininity to look like this,
And we CERTAINLY do not want it to resemble in any way this:
So where's the balance, what does it mean to be a woman of God? Pope John Paul called it our feminine genius....take a look:
"At this moment when the human race is undergoing so deep a transformation, women imbued with the spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling."
In short form: Women are the Church's stealth weapon of the 21st Century. In fact, I'm going to be so bold as to say that women are called to be mini-churches in the world. Sounds a little weird, right? Yea, but hear me out! A church is a sanctuary, a beautiful dwelling place that gives life. Sounds kind of like the role of a wife and mother, either in a physical sense or a spiritual one! Well that's pretty neat....BUT WAIT! It get's even cooler!
What happens in a church? The sacraments happen! Let's start from the beginning. Baptism. A new child of God is welcomed to the family that is the church. This should ring a bell, for a woman does this same thing in the home and community, what with bringing new life into the world, as well as being hospitable and welcoming to her family.
Confirmation. This continues the work of baptism, if you will. It supports and encourages as well as affirms. It is a seemingly normal and calm event as the Holy Spirit is received in the faithful, but Oh it is not ordinary and optional. It makes Christians into adults, in the good sense. Sounds an awful lot like the role of a gentle mother, sister, or friend to a loved one, doesn't it?
The Eucharist. We are fed by God with bread from heaven, the precious body and blood of his son, Jesus Christ. UNION WITH GOD. It's quite literally a kiss from heaven. We are nourished and sustained by him, and we find comfort and strength in his embrace. This reminds me so much of my mother. I couldn't have grown up happy and strong to go out into the world if she didn't spend all of those years feeding me and loving me with hugs!
Reconciliation. Our sins are taken away and we are purified. We are wiped clean. It's like God goes at our souls with some rubber gloves and a nice bottle of Clorox. That's funny, is God suggesting that I, as a woman, should like cleaning? Well, not necessarily. He hasn't stamped my heart with the sole desires and purposes of cooking and cleaning. I imagine the care and importance that the Virgin Mary would have had in her heart as she wiped food off of the face of her son, bathed him, and cleaned the dirt out of his scrapes. That is what God wants from us as women. How beautiful would it be if we, as women, were sources of this comfort and healing?
I don't write this to silence anybody and I don't intend to tell a single woman to always use soft, cheerful tones and cross her ankles. This isn't what God had in mind when he gave us our feminine nature. His plan for women has never depended simply on how polite, charming, or lovely a woman was. Rahab was a harlot, Martha was flustered, Leah was ugly, Hagar slept with Sarah's husband, Sarah was kind of a diva about it, and Mary Magdalene was a horrible sinner who had 7 demons cast out of her. Yikes. And the lord used these ladies as crucial persons in preparing the way of salvation, of Jesus. I'm pretty sure he can/will use us too continue his work.
Ladies, we aren't men. We are different than men. This should be a joyful and wonderful thing, not an oppressive one! For this is not the will of God, that his daughters be enslaved by their femininity, but set free by it, and setting others free along with us. He wants us to embrace our beauty and our femininity so that his beauty can shine through us. Amen?