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Category Archives: women

You are Beautiful

summer blog

A day of change.

I’ve been reading a lot in this blog devoted to those hurting from abuse.

I went through some dark periods as a young woman, and I wish these writers and their wisdom had been available to me then. If you are suffering, or are still scarred from your past, get thee to this blog! It’s a very healing place.

I was remembering today how hard it was, many years ago, to go overnight from a beautiful bride to a flawed, not-quite-right burden to the man I had just married. He had plenty to say about what was wrong with me, and proclaimed he was simply not attracted to me. I was devastated. I was too young and naive to call B.S. and I twisted myself into pretzels trying to make it right.

I remember going on a long walk to burn off calories and wondering how it was possible to be so “flabby” when I was tall and wore a size three. I was part angry at the sting of those words in my ear, part defensive and trying to fix it.

Now that I am older and wiser and no longer being abused and lied to, I realize there is no fixing that nonsense. Here is what I would say to my younger self:

Baloney! Why was he attracted enough to marry you and suddenly you’re all wrong??? Flabby??? Maybe he should take a look in the mirror!!! Who has been eating too much of your fine cooking, after all? Not you!!!!

Dear Reader, if you are being told you are not enough, here is what I say to you:

You are beautiful. You are enough. God made you just right. He didn’t make a mistake when He designed you. You are lovable. You are worth loving. You are just fine.

Don’t let anyone tell you different.

Tomboy at Heart

I was pretty much a tomboy growing up. I went camping for the first time when I was three months old. (Okay, I realize my parents had a lot to do with that!) I spent 95 percent of my time outside unless it was raining hard, and sometimes even then I put on my raincoat and rubber boots and stomped around in puddles. The only thing I regularly got in trouble for was coming home late for dinner. I would climb trees, jump the fence to wade in the creek, and play hide and seek, coming home only after it was so dark I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.

My brother and I would tear around the neighborhood on our bikes doing wheelies and riding with no hands. Sometimes he got tired of hanging around his little sister, so I’d have to go find some girls to play with. When I was lucky, I’d find other girls who were tomboys and we’d rope my brother back in because lots of games are fun with more people.

Learning to “speak girl” was a slow and difficult process. Even freshman year of high school, well after hormones kicked in, I still went around looking like a cross between hippie and Seattle grunge, buying engineer’s overalls and painter’s paints from a uniform store and wearing my hair long and straight, parted right down the middle.

My two best friends bought me a Seventeen magazine one summer and ordered me to read it. My eyes were opened to a whole new world–makeup, grooming and fashion. I still liked to go hiking and camping, but I started to look like a girl while I did it.

Right around the same time frame, I became a Christian. Because I did a good job of disguising myself as a girly girl, I fit right in with some of the conservative teachings about how to be feminine, at least on the surface. But I was very uncomfortable. I felt like a fraud.

I would hear lectures about how women like do all the talking in relationships and feel mannish because I am less talkative than most people, less than a lot of the men in my life. I would go to church parties and get pulled into the kitchen where ladies wanted to talk to me about recipes. What? I could barely boil water. I did know how to fix barbed wire fencing on my uncle’s ranch, but that didn’t really come up in conversation.

I loved the Bible stories about King David. He was small and cute, and a lot tougher than he looked. He wasn’t taken seriously at first. But of course he was God’s chosen, and I was really just a girl.

I remember once hearing God speak to me about all the books I was reading about proper behavior for a Christian woman. I was really stressing out about it, I felt completely miserable and unable to “do the right thing.” I’m sure I was crying about it, one of the girly things I do quite freely from time to time. I heard a still, quiet voice cut through all my emotions and tell me, “Throw all those books away. Get rid of them!”

What a relief that was, but I still felt at odds with the church world around me. I loved my church world, I loved learning from the Bible, I loved singing worship songs, I loved being part of the community. But I still felt like a fraud. A pretender. A fake girly girl.

Thirty odd years later I’d like to say I’ve figured it all out, but I haven’t. I still feel like I don’t quite fit in. I have figured out a couple of things though. It’s perfectly all right for me to passionately pursue being a disciple of Christ. And I don’t need to take a class to learn how to be a woman. God made me a woman, and that’s what I am. He didn’t make a mistake, and I don’t have to correct any errors. (As if! I can’t believe I was ridiculous enough to think I had to make up for His “mistakes.”)

I wonder if there are others out there who have felt the same way?

Submission is Like Kissing

Here is my latest article from the Sisters in Christ Jesus web site:

Some things are meant to be shared. Have you ever waved at someone who didn’t wave back? Your hand hovers awkwardly, then you put it down with a little feeling of emptiness. “He probably didn’t see me . . .”

Kissing is like that. It’s a beautiful thing when it’s mutual, an awful thing if it’s not. If the other person limply allows it but doesn’t return it, you feel foolish. If it’s forced on you unwillingly, it’s an affront or even assault. Remember the kiss of death by the Godfather? A brotherly kiss turns to murder. Or Judas kissing Jesus. Not mutual, not beautiful.

Submission, as a Christian virtue, is better two by two as well. Paul urges the Ephesians in Chapter 5, Verse 21 to be “submitting yourselves to one another.” Missionary and Theologian Bruce C.E. Fleming explains that Paul carefully uses a reflexive verb here, adding a reciprocal pronoun to spell out his meaning clearly in this verse. He then goes on to describe what that looks like for Christian wives, husbands, parents, children, and so on.

The Greek word for submission is a reflexive, modified tense of a verb that is very strong in its active tense. The Septuagint, the Greek Bible quoted by Jesus, uses this word in the Old Testament for ideas such as pledging allegiance to kings and subduing one’s enemy. In fact, God thunders to Israel through Jeremiah about slavery using this word: “But now you have turned around and profaned my name; each of you has taken back the male and female slaves you had set free to go where they wished. You have forced them to become your slaves again.” Jeremiah 34:16

Fortunately for us, God uses this word in a gentler way towards us, his beloved, in Psalm 62. “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.” Here again the word is in the reflexive tense, and like Ephesians, the context is of hope, love, provision and salvation.

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves,” Philippians 2:3. When done mutually, submission is a beautiful thing. Let no one experience the humiliation of having submission unreturned by their loved ones, especially beloved brothers or sisters in Christ.

“Greet one another with a holy kiss,” Romans 16:16.

© Copyright 2007 Becky Virta