The Good-Christian Woman Mold
Years ago, my husband and I were invited to Sunday Dinner (what I would call “fancy lunch”) at the home of a prominent southern pastor. We were truly honored, but let’s be honest, it was awkward. Family dinners at my parent’s house are loud and boisterous affairs. This was quiet and proper. I’m used to standing in the kitchen to munch and talk, they sat quietly discussing important things. They were exceedingly kind, but there were also so many traditions, so many etiquette-driven aspects of the meal, and so many things they had to explain so that we could do it right, that we were left feeling like we didn’t belong.
Again, they were nothing but kind and they never intended to communicate that was how “real” Christians spent their Sunday’s; but at the time, that was what my heart heard. It felt like I was being asked to play a part; to hide the real me and act like a “proper” believer. It is a feeling that started long before that afternoon and has lasted long after.
Working to Fit In
Over and over again in my life, I have struggled with the idea of expectations. I get consumed with what I think other people expect me to be, do, say, wear, like, etc. The fear of disappointing them has literally kept me up at night and has dictated many choices I have made. There is no area of my life that idea has played out stronger than in the area of my Christian life. I have seen the godly women around me, heard talks on Biblical femininity, and come to sweeping generalizations about what it looks like to be a godly Christian woman.
I have worked hard to fit that mold. And I have failed.
As a young woman, I came to the conclusion that godly women were fairly quiet, volunteered a lot, loved to read Christian books, always joined Bible-studies, taught Sunday school, and laughed politely at polite sorts of jokes. They do Pinterest, Starbucks, and play dates. They wear the right things, say the right things, and always do the right things.
I, on the other hand, am super introverted, would choose fantasy novels over women’s nonfiction any day, and a good poop joke will always make me laugh (I apparently have the sense of humor of a four-year-old). I love computer games, play tabletop RPGs, can give you ten reasons why Captain Picard is the best Star Trek captain of all time, and would watch a Marvel movie over a chick flick every time. I love volunteering at church, but please don’t make me teach a little-kids Sunday school class (too often) because, well, I’m not that good with other people’s children. And while I would love to have a playdate with you, I’ll be honest, they completely stress me out so if we leave early, know that’s it not you, it’s me.
I love Jesus so, so, so much but I don’t always feel like I look the part.
A Different Mold
I’ve tried to fit the mold of what a good Christian woman is, but I have to say, I’m failing at it. Miserably. But for the first time in my life, that’s ok.
Over the past few years, God has slowly but surely been opening my eyes to the truth that there is no “good Christian woman” mold. He is showing me that I don’t have to dress a certain way or look picture perfect in order to prove to other believers that I am one of them, and I don’t have to try to measure up to earn God’s love or pay him back. I don’t have to do that because he’s not asking me to! In fact, he’s asking me to do just the opposite. God is asking me to display his image to the world as only I, a unique woman created in his image can do.
God has given me talents and interests and passions. They may not be the same as other peoples, they may not even be the same as most peoples, but they are a part of who he created me to be. And pretending to fit the mold when I don’t, is not promoting his gospel, it’s actually adding to the problem. You see, I am convinced that I am not the only person who felt like they were not a good Christian because they don’t quite fit in with the good-Christian crowd (whatever that may be). And I suspect there are a lot of people out there afraid to even try out this thing called Christianity because they are afraid they won’t be accepted. I don’t want to add to that anymore. In fact, I want to do the opposite.
I am learning that grace is not just for the perfect and his love is not just for the churched. Grace is a freely given gift, unearned, and undeserved. And friends, it is amazing.
It doesn’t matter if you play MMORPGs or have no idea what that is, God’s love is for you. It doesn’t matter if you shop at Banana Republic, Hot Topic, WalMart, or thrift stores, God’s love is for you. It doesn’t even matter if you think Zelda is the guy in green instead of the princess, God’s love is for you! If you have ever felt like you didn’t fit in, I want you to know that you are not alone and I want you to know that it doesn’t have to be that way. God’s love is for you.
I don’t fit the mold, but that’s ok because I am an image bearer of God. For image bearers, there are no “good Christian woman” molds. Being an image-bearer means it’s ok to be the fiery, shy, fierce, introverted, extroverted, quiet, belly-laughing, shower-singing woman that God created you to be. It means you can do women’s ministry, children’s ministry, local ministry, or any other ministry he calls you to. It means that the only mold you need to fit into is the perfectly beautiful one God created just for you, the one that miraculously images him alone. And here’s the best part, we are all image-bearers. Beautiful. Unique. Individual images of the living, holy, God.
I may not fit the “good Christian woman” mold, but I’m ok with that. I have a better mold anyways. And so do you.