As you may have read about in my testimony a couple weeks back, I have struggled with what it means to be a Christian woman if I'm not a teen or college girl still living at home, nor a married woman. As an older Christian single woman, what is my role in the church during this season of singleness?
So often my own internal desires combined with pressure from well-meaning family, friends and church members, has left me feeling less than. As though I have nothing to contribute to the work of the Kingdom until and unless I get married. But is that what God has in mind for this season of singleness?
I doubted it.
With that in mind I decided to first tackle Set-Apart Femininity by Leslie Ludy as a study for Titus 2 Tuesdays. Before we go any further - please let me be clear that I am not perfect and I am writing these posts as much or more because these are lessons I need to learn than because I am telling you how you should live your life. Hopefully it's something we can learn together as singles and wives, mothers and daughters - and I welcome any comments and questions asked that can contribute to that goal.
In the first chapter I very much identified with Leslie's own experience of feeling less than attractive and her subsequent desire to alluring. I was picked on for my looks beginning in middle school, and I know I'm not unique in this at all. Even though I wasn't supposed to, I began wearing makeup in 8th grade in an effort to look more alluring and perhaps ease the teasing. Add this innate desire to societal pressures and pop culture that preys on our longing for love and you have a recipe for disaster. So many of us, my self very much included, have bought into the lie that outer beauty is what makes us worth loving.
Another part of the chapter that really hit home for me was when Leslie spoke of how our longings for a significant other can be so strong that we give up our innocence in the pursuit of it. I was so sure that God was withholding love and a spouse from me that I decided to give up waiting on Him and do it on my own. I lost my innocence in the pursuit of a relationship with a man who did not share my beliefs and did not care for me or my heart as much as he claimed. And I excused his actions and stayed with him for far too long because, hey, even though he was often awful to me, he was also the only guy who'd ever pursued me in any real way and he did find me physically attractive, and it was nice to feel beautiful for once, instead of ugly.
This chapter lays the foundation of our backwards view of beauty and what femininity means, how we as individuals and even as the church have come to follow the world's vision of beauty and femininity, rather than God's. And it leaves off with this challenging quote that will lead us into next week's chapter - "There is only one path that leads to true beauty. It is a narrow, rocky, obscure road that is hidden from the eyes of most." Are we willing to head down this though road?
So what about you? What are your thoughts on the first chapter if you are reading along with us, or if you've read the book before? What is your story? Have you ever been made to feel less-than? How do you define beauty? How do you think society defines beauty? How do you think God might define beauty?
If you'd like to join us in this study, the book is probably available through your local library or library consortium, or you can purchase a copy from Amazon, iTunes or Google Play.