Thursday, March 9, 2017

From the Start

I’ve often struggled with the idea of being a woman.  I know I am a woman but I’ve never much liked the company of women or girls for that matter.  As a child, I found girls to be silly, mean and emotionally unstable and as a woman I’ve experienced far too many displays of the same childish behavior among my peers. I’ve had a hard time recognizing goodness in my own gender to the point of not really seeking out female friends. Acquaintances were fine but don’t let any of them get too close. Casual encounters were safe but in order to keep the crazy drama at bay I felt I needed to limit my female contact.

I felt justified in my assessment of The Weaker Sex. From the beginning of time women have caused a lot of trouble, unnecessary drama and blatant meanness. Seriously, women were the source of most of the trouble in the Bible. Just look at Eve and Sarah and Leah, three very manipulative women. And don’t even get me started on Delilah and Jezebel! Yep, women are bad news. It’s best to just keep my head down and be as dude-like as possible, or so I thought until I tripped into an arena that I never planned on entering.

A while back, and completely out of the blue, I got involved in Women’s Ministry at my church. One day I was alone in our church basement, setting up for Sunday School and listening to a teaching podcast when a friend showed up and asked me what I was doing. The next thing I knew I was leading a weekly women’s meeting where we watched podcasts and discussed them. It was the last thing I intended to do but it was among the best things to ever happen to me.

Almost immediately, I began to see and value women differently. Getting to know the ladies who came out every week opened my eyes to a truth I should have recognized long ago. We are a work in progress, we are all doing our best to do our best. Through relationship with these magnificent women, I began to see the treasure that women are. I recognized that strength, loyalty, protection and nurturing are intrinsically part of the female nature and the things I previously disliked about women were never supposed to be part of our nature in the first place. God had designed us for community, care and cooperation, not for manipulation, contention and strife.

In preparation for the meetings each week I listen to dozens of podcasts from some of the best lady preachers of our age. The teaching and mentorship I have received from these Godly women through this medium has completely reshaped my perspective on my life, my faith and my place in this world.  There have been many messages that have encouraged me and challenged me but none has impacted me more than the teaching that opened my heart to a truth I had never before realized; God created women on purpose.

The deliverer of this message was Lisa Bevere and I had never heard anyone like her. She said things like, “Women are not the problem, they are the answer” and “being a confident woman is not acting like a man.” As I jumped head first into her teachings I began to see women in a completely different light, a God light. I read the Bible with a different understanding, from the perspective that women were part of God’s plan from the beginning, and familiar verses came alive to me in a new way, verses like Genesis 1:26.

… So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female, He created them

In the very same sentence that God had the idea for man, He had the idea for woman. Before He breathed life into one, He had all eternity planned for the other. Woman was not an afterthought, created just to fill a void in man; she was half of the original thought. She was part of His plan all along. This idea rocked my world.

I began to think about men and women, the differences and the similarities. I began to ponder things through. If we were created in His image, both male and female, wouldn't male and female both be part of God’s nature? If men have strengths and characteristics that are uniquely male given to them from the very nature of God, then wouldn’t it be true that the things we claim as uniquely feminine are intrinsically part of God's nature also? If we, male and female, were created in His image then His image must hold the feminine as well as the masculine - right? And if that is the case then it stands to reason that God planned for us all, male and female, since beginning of time.

And there it was. The IGIM (I Got it Moment) that allowed all the pieces to click into place. There is no weaker sex because there's no weakness in God. No one is lesser than the other. No one is an after-thought; no one was created with the sole purpose of entertaining the other. One was not given the best traits and characteristics over the other. We, male and female, were created on purpose for a purpose since the beginning of time. We were created in unison, to compliment each other, not to compete with or dominate each other. We are both, male and female, the image of our Father.

I was raised to know that God created me, the individual, on purpose but for the first time I realized that He created my gender on purpose and the purpose was not what I first thought. Women were not created just to keep men company. They were created as equal partners, as teammates. When God gave the instructions to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it, to have dominion He wasn’t just talking to Adam. Eve was there too. She was given the same instructions, the same responsibility, the same purpose. That was the key; God created male and female at the same time with a common purpose. Equal partners, helpmates. Not to be in competition but to help each other, each to bring out the strengths of the other. To be in relationship with each other and to work together.

When God said, “Let us create man in our image” He wasn't having a mental lapse and He wasn't talking to himself.  He was referencing all parts of Himself; Father, Son and Spirit. He is one and He is three, working together. From the beginning He has been in community and since we are created in His image, in its entirety, we have been created to be in community.  Our desire to belong and connect with others is God-given from the beginning of time. Our ability to partner with others, to be stronger together than we would be alone, is part of the very nature of God our Creator.

The very reason God created humans in the first place was out of a desire to be with someone, to have relationship with someone who wasn’t heavenly obligated to be with Him. He wanted to be loved and sought after out of choice not force. He wanted us to want Him because He wanted us. And He wants that for us, too. Male and female. Created with a desire to be in community, in relationship, in partnership with each other.

Then God saw everything that He had made and indeed it was very good.

*This is a chapter except from my book Finding Me in Him

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