She said, “Do you demand respect? Or do you earn it?” And my heart thudded as her voice boomed out through the sanctuary. It was February of 2013 and my insides screamed out YES! Let them have it! Because I burned inside. Anger and wrath ignited. All directed at the opposite sex, of course. The male population. Or more particularly, the male population within the very traditional church I found myself.
The speaker used Titus 2…
In the same way, older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to much wine. They are to teach what is good, so they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, homemakers, kind, and submissive to their husbands, so that God’s message will not be slandered. v. 3-5
She used Ephesians 5:25 as back-up. If husbands would only love their wives as Christ loves the church, then women would respond more willingly. Or submit. And in my ignorance, I thought the message was for all the men surrounding me who sat in pews. However, the longer her voice droned on, the more uncomfortable I felt.
And thirty-two months later, I know why.
Because those words weren’t meant for their ears. They were meant for mine. The question was directed at me.
God said, “Do you demand respect? Or do you earn it?”
And in looking back, I’d have to say I demanded it. I felt it was deserved. Along with honor. But none of that was coming my way. Not there. So I picked a battle and chose my side. And I stood for women. More particularly, women’s rights in the church.
Yes, that’s what I chose.
Listen to me!
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:12
Today I have absolute clarity. It has to do with respect. See, when I left home at 19, I didn’t have any. I didn’t possess one ounce of self-respect. And to compound matters, after only five short years away I managed to do everything I could to lose the respect of those who knew me. No details necessary.
But one day, I met God. I wasn’t even looking for Him. Eventually, I learned to call out to Him. And five years ago, He talked back. Through Scripture… words specific to me. Yes it’s true, God heard my cries. He listened, and miraculously, He answered.
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3
God sent me back to my hometown. I asked and asked and finally, in His infinite mercy and grace, He gave me what I desired most. And after settling, He spoke again and again and again. Revelation to revelation and glory to glory. I swear, the fall of 2011 was one of the most wonderful times of my life.
Because God listened to me. And I listened to Him. A relationship was formed.
I am woman
I wanted to share what I knew. I was simply on fire and wanted other women to feel as I did. Because what a discovery. The fact God really is real astounded me. Before God, it was empty religion. I merely sat in church and went through the motions. I followed rules and did all the right things.
Thus, I didn’t have much to say. No voice at all.
But one day, He spoke. To someone as insignificant as me. And that was miraculous. That God would look down from His throne and speak to me in the midst of an ordinary life was remarkable. Noteworthy. So, I tried to share. Because if it happened to me, it could happen to other women.
So I wrote manuscripts and endeavored to lead women’s Bible studies. I wanted women to discover what I had.
In the midst of all this revelation and glory, we joined a church. A traditional one. And at first, I was eager to share. I reached out immediately and there were quick dividends. For within months I was asked to read Scripture at the women’s Sunday. It was that February service in 2013 when I heard the Titus 2 talk.
You know, my spirits were dampened even before I heard that woman speak, though. It was after I’d told a couple of gals I wanted to lead a women’s Bible study and learned I wouldn’t be able to. There was a two year rule in place and it didn’t sit well with me. Because, I felt I knew so much. And had so much to say. Important things. Meaning, I was important.
I blurted out, “I can’t just sit here for two years.”
Well, turns out I did. It goes back to the respect thing. And only in looking back can I see what I did. I rolled up in that church demanding respect. I expected people to want what I had to offer. But they didn’t even know me. And because it felt like rejection, I began to feel so small there. Unworthy. In truth, I’d never felt so diminished as a woman in all my life.
And so, my light got dimmer and dimmer as another flame was fanned. Over the months, it blazed and consumed me.
I shrugged on a new mantle and adopted my battle cry.
It was, “I am woman. Hear me roar.”
the wrong fight
It’s with clarity I speak today. See, I left home feeling like a nothing. But before and upon my return, God spoke! To me. I felt so important. And when it seemed as if my church didn’t want my offering, I was offended. Highly. And an internal war raged. I wanted the woman in me to be heard.
This is what I carried into my home life. Because I wrote and wrote. With all my heart, I wanted a published book. But pure intentions became tainted by pride. Getting a book deal began to have less and less to do with God and His glory, and became more and more about me and mine.
See, a book with my name on the cover would really show those people who rejected me. All of them. Then they’d know I was worth hearing. Especially the men who surrounded me… who dampened my spirits. You know, the ones who needed to hear the Titus 2 message. Those who demanded respect.
The utter realization, though, is I’ve been slandering God in this manner. Denying my true mission in life by failing to submit to the one thing He really wants me to do. And by resisting His leading, I realize I’ve been fighting against my own family. I didn’t comprehend my stance on women’s rights caused me to lose ground in my own home.
love their husbands and to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, homemakers, kind, and submissive to their husbands
This is what God wants me to do. He commands me to love my husband. To love my children. To be self-controlled and pure. A homemaker. Kind. He wants me to submit to my husband. And this…
I’ve been fighting.
Because my eyes have been clouded. My perspective skewed by the secular world in which I live. See, it’s society that places value on status, ego, fame, self-seeking, and the list goes on. I’ve been hanging on to this set of values. Not His.
For this is what motivates me to write when I have a pile of laundry and dinner to prepare. Not always, but often enough. Because if I could just get my name in lights, it would validate all I’ve been doing. I would be validated. Good enough. Worthy of respect. Worthy to be heard.
Because, oh how my heart skips a beat when my little alarm shows orange on my blog site. It means someone liked what I had to say.
Oh, I am woman. I do roar.
I’m gonna say no
Today, I choose to say no. To the world and it’s scales. I say yes to God, instead. I submit. I give. Because with all my heart, I want to please Him. I want to do the one thing He wants me to do and do it well. And that means I give place to Him by giving place to my family and my home.
Today, I embrace biblical womanhood and all it implies. I submit to my husband as the head of our household. And it’s a blessing. I am blessed because I have a good man who loves me. Just as Christ loves the church. And we have a mutual respect for each other. We have love.
Today, I choose to be the mother God wants me to be. And that means saying no to my children. I will discipline them because they need boundaries. Training. Upbringing. It’s my job. And they will rise and call me blessed.
And I will enjoy being a homemaker. And all the chores that surround it. For it’s a blessing. And an honor. It brings me pleasure to create a warm and inviting atmosphere for my family.
Yes, today is the day. I say no to the world and what it has to offer.
I say yes to God instead.
Your beauty should not consist of outward things like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes. Instead, it should consist of what is inside the heart with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very valuable in God’s eyes. 1 Peter 3:3-4
I am woman and wife. I embrace it. And I am mother. I cherish it. Because it’s such a gift. Motherhood.
And so, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention something I read yesterday. It has to do with all this. The role of womanhood…
Trevor MacDonald is a self identified female-to-male transgendered gay man, who’s given birth to two children since he transitioned. He’s expecting another baby in April. MacDonald explains he was born female but transitioned to male by taking hormones and having chest surgery. “When my partner and I decided to start a family, we got advice from my doctors and I stopped taking my testosterone. Because my surgery removed most of my breast tissue, I don’t know how much I’ll be able to breastfeed, but I really want to try.”
He’s accused the midwifery community of “transphobia” in The Huffington Post. MacDonald argues that suggesting that trans guys who give birth are not men — but actually women, because of their biology — is “highly offensive to trans individuals because it denies our gender.” Michelle Jesse
I cried as I read the above http://www.allenbwest.com/2015/09/transgender-dad-offended-by-pregnant-women-midwives-deliver-epic-response/
And I have to tell you, I say, no. No, you cannot have your cake and eat it, too. You’re either male or female. And if you choose to have a baby, then you’re a woman. Women have babies.
Though Trevor MacDonald identifies as male, she relies on her female anatomy to carry her children. “He’s expecting another baby in April…” Again, no. Emphatically, I say it. No. Not he but she. Because motherhood belongs to the woman. Childbirth belongs to the woman.
It is a woman who carries a baby for nine months. It is she who develops stretch marks and pees twenty times a day. The woman suffers labor pains but then immediately forgets it all in the face of her infant. And she tenderly nestles her baby at her breast for nursing.
The woman nurtures. She soothes. And kisses boo-boos. She is mama. So I say No!
Do not take this away from us. Motherhood belongs to women. Birthing babies belongs to women.
Not to men.
I am woman. Hear me roar.
A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. John 16:21
I say yes
I’ve been fighting God on this one. I wanted to be more than what He made me to be. I wanted to be more than wife and mother because homemaker just didn’t seem to elicit enough respect. At least not in my book.
So, I demanded it. Like that fateful February in 2013. I finally had my platform for I’d been asked to read Scripture. But me being me, I used it as an opportunity to be heard. It was a sermonette I prepared, not a verse. And I droned on and on. And you know what? My little boy was at home sick that day.
The evening before, Levi’s fever spiked to 103. I was so worried. I prayed and called relatives. I fretted. But the next morning, I went off to church anyway leaving my husband to tend to my son. I left my husband to fulfill my role as mother. Nurturer. Why? Because I had important business to attend to. I had to speak at church. Important stuff, you know.
So I opened my mouth but got little in return. Not the respect I’d hoped for.
Today, I know why. It’s just another step in my journey with God. And I realize I’ve been wrestling Him. Demanding that He give me the respect I feel I’m due. Thus, I’ve disrespected Him by denying His words. And what He expects from me.
But today’s another story. Because today, I say yes to Him and all that implies. Especially with regard to my womanhood.
I am woman. And finally, I’m willing to submit. I yield as I embrace my role as woman. Wife and mother. Total submission. And the miracle is, I end up finding the respect I’ve been seeking.
Just because I said Yes.