By Alicia Purdy, Crosswalk.com
In an era of female empowerment, #metoo and men transitioning to ‘women’ more boldly than ever before, there is an overwhelming amount of static when it comes to conversations about what makes a woman who she is.
Add to that thousands of years of slavery, oppression and warmongering and it’s clear that the incredibly valuable and unique role of women in the world has been, at the very least, drastically misunderstood.
Here’s the thing: It isn’t just men who don’t understand what a woman is and should be in light of God’s intentional design. Many, many times women don’t understand either.
In God’s reality, women are equal to men in every way (Gal. 3:28-29). But being equal does not mean being the same.
Men and women are different and no surgery, pill or behavioral modifications can change that fundamental truth. God created and structured a man’s heart and mind and soul to work differently than a woman’s and those differences were meant to complement each other, not condemn, to strengthen, not suppress.
But, alas, thousands of years of the fallen human condition has brought us where we are today! Men are not devoid of “feminine” characteristics nor are women devoid of classically “male” characteristics, because both men and women reflect the multi-faceted image of God; and celebrating the strengths of one should not entail the criticism of the other’s weakness, but certainly men and women express themselves differently!
All that to say--in a broken world that seeks to blur the lines between genders (or even deny them outright!), it is easy to feel minimized as a woman, but you are empowered by God to be who He called you to be!
You might need a quick refresher course on just how wonderfully He has made you, what He has gifted you with and how to operate in your role as a woman of light in the darkness of the world, so here are seven lovely characteristics God gave to women:
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Mark 11:15-19It’s no secret to anyone than women are more emotionally expressive than men. Over time a woman’s emotional temperature has been used to mock or minimize them, but to be fair, plenty of women have misused and abused their emotional power as well.
Being sensitive is a gift from the Lord because a woman’s intuition, her innate, heightened awareness to the things of the Spirit and a woman’s willingness to be open emotionally brings a softness into a hard world.
In hard times, women can be seen as either overly sensitive or we hide how sensitive we really are for fear of it being exploited or misunderstood, but there is great beauty in having the confidence to feel something deeply and then express those feelings with grace and courage rather than resorting to manipulation or condemnation.
God shows great emotion all throughout Scripture. He shows his anger when his people disobey him. He shows great joy when they repent. He shows compassion and longing, jealousy and indignance, glee and hope. If God is deeply emotional, we should feel confident about our emotionality too.
If you’ve ever been called a “basket case” or an “ice queen”, it could be that you are struggling to find balance in expressing your natural sensitivity that God gave you, causing you to lack self-control or to become overly protective of yourself because you’ve been hurt.
Your sensitivity is a power. You don’t need to assert it or hide it. Learn how to use it- to the glory of God!
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The old adage about a “woman’s intuition” has its roots in the observation that women tend to have an ability to sense the feelings of others. We tend to be more sensitive to the emotional temperatures of the people we interact with, especially if someone is struggling.
While Psychology Today reported that, “There is a logical, and research-based answer,” for this, we know that the Lord has given us different strengths than men. While plenty of men have discernment, women are more naturally attuned to “reading” emotions and tend to be more confident in reaching out and asking about what’s going on.
The way your subtly looks at their shoes when asked about their math test might totally go over your husband's head, but you know something is wrong there. Or your boss may have made your coworker feel dismissed in a meeting--again--and you notice them pull back from the rest of the team.
Your spiritual and emotional discernment is a powerful responsibility. It’s one thing to be aware of a need or an issue, but it’s entirely another thing to ask about it, act on it and to reach out your hands to someone and pray with them about it.
Proverbs 31:20 says, “She stretches out her hand to the poor; yes, she reaches forth her hands to the needy.” But that word “stretches” isn’t the act of reaching down. It’s more accurate to say “she reaches her hands wide”--as in a hug--to those who are afflicted, weak or in pain.
If you discern something in your spirit or emotions, God needs you to see it, and then do something about it.
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Women and men are no different when it comes to how God has designed our intelligence. However, 100 years ago, and certainly further back than this, it was not believed that a woman could be as intelligent as a man, nor it was it believed she was designed by God to be so.
Why is that? You can chalk it up to chauvinism, but it would be equally as correct to say that plenty of women have allowed their emotions to lead the way or used them to manipulate, abuse and control men, thereby downplaying their intelligence, where men have bullied or dominated women physically, financially and even legally.
Both are wrong.
A woman’s intelligence is equally measured, God-given and necessary in the Kingdom of God, even if you’re never an astronaut or if “all you ever do” is take care of your children and your home.
If you’ve ever raised children you already know! Where men tend to be stronger in more linear, ordered, sequential thinking, the world can’t function without a woman’s more “global” or big picture perspective and tendency to find multiple starting points and solutions to a problem.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of control through emotions because it makes men nervous and may temporarily give us the upper hand, but in the long run, you do a disservice to the strength of your intelligence by not using it to interact with the world around you.
Use this gift confidently and with power, and don't let anyone let you question your intelligence just because you're not a man.
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Okay, you may never be physically strong enough to become a NAVY Seal, but wouldn’t you love to see a Navy SEAL give birth?! Women are every bit as strong as men, but in very different ways- and that’s okay! Watching women try to outdo men in a physical contest can be cringe-worthy because women and men are designed by God complement each other with their strengths, not compete!
That’s not to say a woman can’t be physically strong or even lift weights and get big muscles if she wants to, but you’re missing the point of being a woman if you’re constantly trying to prove something to man or even to yourself, in comparison to a man.
The strength God has given to women is evidenced through traits like resilience, fortitude, loyalty, compassion, creativity, sensitivity, perception and even stubbornness! Yes, men have abused their strengths, but so have women. Ever hear of a “mean girl”? Or a “frenemy”? I’ll bet you can still remember the name of a mean girl who hurt you before you can recall the name of the most popular basketball player. Remember this: Weak women work to control others. Strong women work to control themselves.
The world tries to control the definition and perception of words like “strong” and “beautiful”, and that can make us feel like we are neither, when the opposite is true! If you are godly you are strong and beautiful. Be a woman.
The world needs the strengths women have and God has a plan for your strengths as a woman to affect His Kingdom and that, in and of itself, is enough to keep you busy for the rest of your life!
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Being vulnerable doesn’t always feel like a beautiful gift does it? Some of the worst pain a woman can experience in this world comes because you allowed yourself to be vulnerable and someone exploited it.
Women and men can both be vulnerable, although men tend to hold it back and hide it better while women are more emotional and sometimes it feels like we just can’t help but wear our hearts on our sleeve. Whereas a woman might say “I love you” too soon in a relationship, a man might never say it! Of course, opening yourself isn’t bad unless you open yourself too soon or to the wrong person.
But in spite of all the risks, most women have a willingness and a courage to be vulnerable again and again that most men struggle with. Some of that has to do with social expectations and pressures, but because women tend to have the emotional permission to express themselves and the inherent design from the Lord to be more in touch with their emotions, being vulnerable comes easier.
Being vulnerable means that you give others permission to be vulnerable too--to be real with themselves and those around them, and to feel safe doing so. Vulnerability breeds vulnerability and women have an ability to create space for connection and authenticity, just by speaking truth about themselves. How amazing is that!
Your ability to be vulnerable is a beautiful gift, but it’s not one that should be given to everyone, so be careful with your heart.
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The women-are-better-than-men movement over the past several decades has wreaked untold damage on both men and women, but the full repercussions have yet to be seen. In a fallen world, men have abused the power and authority God gave them, especially physical power, and eventually women fought back, but using the power and authority God gave us, emotional power.
Your femininity is a gift from God, even if the world has tried to convince you otherwise. You don’t need makeup and long hair and big breasts and great clothes or money or anything else. What makes you a woman is what God put inside you, starting with your XX chromosomes.
You can be a tomboy or a firefighter or president or a pig farmer or a mother or never have children and your femininity is still in tact because God has put inside of you the strength, intelligence, vulnerability, discernment and sensitivity of a woman, a unique, distinct and much-needed reflection of His wondrous image.
Don't let yourself forget that just as Adam was created in God's image, so was Eve. Both partners equally emulate the traits that make our God so worthy of worship, and so life-giving to this world. Although your femininity may be under attack by society's chaos and confusion, know that no one can take away what God has given you.
You don’t need to fight for it. You simply need to own it, learn about what it is, and how to use it in a godly way, live it--and stop apologizing for it.
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