Here is another beautiful look at biblical womanhood! We are so excited about Woman Up, an opportunity for us to celebrate and encourage each woman’s distinct definition of who she is in Christ! Thank you Sunny for opening up and inviting us in!
Gentleness and patience are not natural aspects of my personality. Historically, I have been a tough love, suck it up buttercup kind of chick, donning a calloused exterior in order to navigate this brutal world as a woman. We come up with all kinds of defenses don’t we? Told our entire lives to smile, to chill out, to be quiet, to blend in and be less obtuse. I recognized as a young girl that my gender is my biggest vulnerability, objectified by media and pop culture, we are reduced down to our body parts and how well they measure up to societal standard, under threat from the opposite sex just because we are girls. I learned to pay attention to my surroundings, to look over my shoulder as I walked from one place to another, heightened awareness because I was born a girl.
Coupled with the blurring of gender roles, the softness that would have perhaps blossomed in a safer, more Garden like state, instead hardened into walls, opinions, and attitudes which created a veil to the vulnerability of my femininity, so much so that I came to believe the harshness was my personality and not a mechanism.
For years I played both roles, that of male and female, vacillating between attempted, authentic tenderness and stern disciplinarian warrior, these conflicting attributes became hardwired into my psyche.
I have a confession to make: as a girl I wanted to be that mom who bakes cookies and comfort foods, that woman who stops what she is doing in order to create a space of belonging and solace for kids and husband. As a little girl, my heart whispered this identity to me but I subdued that desire and instead became coarse in order to maintain and survive. The reason this is a confession, is because my life and role has been nearly the exact opposite of what I dreamt as a child.
After Jesus introduced Himself my perspective began to shift as the reality of how broken I was (am) settled in around me like a film of grime I could not escape. I wanted to be gentle. I wanted to be patient. I wanted the Spiritual Fruit to be the defining words of how my kids and people in my life experience me, but try as I may, managing these qualities failed time and again and guilt amassed and the war within me raged: what did it mean for Sunny to be a woman of God?
When I met my now husband there was a magnitudinal shift inside my heart and soul, one that quaked from the continental foundations of Sunny as both soft and hard, to an awakening of the possibility that being a woman, living in my body, in my feminine design may actually be safe and preferred.
Oh, how I can feel the eye rolling of my former self, of the many friends who will and do see this as weak, or frightening even, that I could move from the independent, suck it up, roaring woman identity to relaxing in who I am to God and who I am allowed to be because of the husband God gifted me. I have been called pathetic, weak, wishy-washy and fake in recent years, as the bedrock of who I truly am erupted from the crust of who I had created myself to be. My true identity causing rifts in relationships, confusion and fear in so many people who do not recognize this idea of Sunny that God is developing.
What I love most about my husband is he knows exactly who he is. He walks his role and identity in Jesus out in confidence and brings to the table the perfect mix of compassion, strength, protection, discipline, teacher, leader and self control that make him an incredible father and husband. It wasn’t until I came eye to eye with his confidence that the woman God created me to be began to stir, waking up from the false roles, rough mechanisms and protective weapons I had become accustomed to calling Sunny. I had to figure out a means to survive and suddenly I was given permission and complete safety to be gentle, soft, to step aside and allow my husband to be the man, no longer did I need, or have to act as both. His absolute comfort in who he is as a man, calls out the deepest, most authentic desire I have to be a woman. Only when I discovered that I was truly physically, emotionally and spiritually safe, was I able to explore my absolute true identity. This may look different for many women, but for me that safety was wrought wholly and holy true when I entered into covenant with my husband and I cannot diminish or discount the release my entire spirit experiences in this sacred space.
I will never forget an early conversation in which he told me that he wanted to take from my plate all of the responsibilities, the heaviness and the burdens that he could, so that I could just be me, so I could be the mom and woman God called me to be. I can remember exactly where we were, what I was wearing and how he held my hand and offered me this gift. I remember praising Jesus as he spoke, thanking Him for this reality and also terrified that I would not know how to let the pretenses go.
Old habits die hard right?
Oh, how I wish I could tell you lovely readers that my Fairy Godmother appeared, waved her wand and remade my raggedy heart into one of shine and beauty. But that isn’t how redemption, reconciliation, grace and Spiritual Fruit mature, it is in fact a battle.
Knee jerk reactions, generational sin, history and selfishness hinder me at every turn. I get in the way of my own growth, I stomp on the feet of my own husband, wear a scowl instead of a smile, snip and snap instead of just listening. The old nature is dead, as Scripture tells me, but I fight to resurrect her crud all of the time and then bemoan my slow progress, wondering if change ever really happens, fearing that maybe all of my critics may be right. Am I just faking it? And so I fall to my knees and beg the Lord to hold my tongue for me and try again.
Nearly every morning I spend a few minutes on my yoga mat, with my coffee and my Jesus in confession, in prayer and in worship. I ask that the Father would open my mind, replace my thoughts with His thoughts, my ideas for His ideas, my ways for His ways. Immediately after I pray that my intuition would sharpen to the Holy Spirit, that I would not quench, but respond to promptings, to prayers, to blessings, to see what He wants me to see. I then ask that He hold my mouth closed, that He change the tone in which I speak, that He would allow only what is good for building others up to come from my lips and that I could speak life into my family first and then those He brings before me. I pray that He traps in my throat the bitterness, the old harsh, judgemental, sarcastic Sunny, the words that are venomous and fueled by sin and only allow to pass what is holy. Finally, I pray that He opens my heart, that He softens the soil in which He cultivates the Fruit He longs to harvest in my life, that from my heart would flow my true identity as His daughter, loved, cherished, protected, fought for and righteous and that all of these qualities would be first evident to my family.
But sometimes, I arise from my knees and snarl. Because this is how it works, battle for my holiness, a fight against an entire society that wants to tell me I am weak and my desire to live as this woman to my God and my husband is archaic and pathetic, that I have changed but that it’s not a good thing.
And so I clasp my hands together at my heart and beg my Father to continue to make me more receptive to seeing the plank in my eye, to willfully submitting myself to His call upon my life, to trust Him that I am exactly where He wants me to be and that through the fumbling around in my Biblical womanhood, I am drawing eyes to the One who calls me daughter. I pray that He would affirm me and that I would not conform to the world and the thousands of voices that attempt to use fear to bring me back to the old Sunny, that I do not need to be hard, I don’t need to fight, that I am indeed free and safe as I am to be this kind of wife, this kind of mother and this kind of woman.