"The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different type of a woman." This is one of my favorite quotes. It comes from Elisabeth Eliot's book, Let Me Be a Woman. I first read the book when I was in college and leading a Bible study about Biblical Womanhood for a small group of girls. Since then I've probably read it half a dozen times. I hand it out to girls like it's a basket of muffins welcoming them into the adventure of being a woman. Because it truly is an adventure. I wish we could curl up in the rocking chairs on my front porch and have this conversation, because I want to hear your side of it. What does it mean to be a lady?
Heaven knows there have been countless books written on the topic, all giving advice that does nothing but make your head spin. Television and movies portray the entire spectrum from the independent, no-nonsense women to the weak, puerile bimbos. Some women love sports, while others cringe at the letters ESPN. Some can cook, while others need to have Pizza Hut on speed dial. Some cry at movies, while others can watch the saddest Hallmark flick completely stone faced. And that's the beauty of it. We're all so completely different and mixed up in our own way, and both sides of the spectrum are lovely and beautiful.
I'm a girl. My creator chose to make me a girl. It wasn't a coin toss. It was purposed, and I'm so grateful for it. Growing up as a girl is definitely tough. I once heard someone say that when you're graceful, people say you lack personality; when you're serene, people say you're boring; when you're confident, people say you're arrogant; when you're feminine, people say you're too girly. There is no right way to be a girl. Women deal with being too much and too little all at once mainly because we're trying to be a certain type of woman. We're told to be skinny, have curves; keep your hair long, cut it off short; have a successful career, stay home with your kids; learn to cook and clean, don't fall into gender stereotypes. That's why I love that Elisabeth Elliot quote so much. "The fact that I'm a Christian makes me a different kind of a lady."
If I place my idenitity in the fact that I'm a woman, I will be forever lost and reading women's magazines to know whether or not red nail polish is in or out. (Who am I kidding? Red nail polish is always in.) I have to place my identity in the Lord, and let Him shape me into the woman he purposed me to be. That means that I have to let go of what others are telling me and just be. Song of Soloman 4:7 states, "You are all together beautiful, my darling." And it's true. Every piece of your heart is beautiful, and however you choose to live out being a woman, it is beautiful. God made you a girl, and you don't have to put on a stitch of lip stick to prove it.
For me being a girl means a bathroom counter cluttered with hair products and having a slight lip gloss addiction. It also means loving football, and being thrilled that Mizzou is now in the SEC, simply so I have good reason to dress up for game days. I can do as Fritzgerald said in The Great Gatsby, and "be a beautiful little fool", or I can be intelligent and charming all at once. I can put down hardwood floors and have made good use of a sledge hammer (much to my father's chagrin). I can make a cream cheese frosting so tasty that it will make your toes curl, but I've never been able to hula hoop or turn a cart wheel like the other little girls could. I don't mind sleeping in a tent, but by golly I will be putting a table cloth out for supper. My feminine side flourishes by building a home where everyone who enters it feels welcomed and leaves full of something sweet whether it be tea or pie. That's me, and thankfully that doesn't describe the other women in my life because we're all so unique.
Go out and be a lady, however it looks for you. Embrace the fact that you get to curl your hair if you feel like it or throw it up in messy bun, and either way, I promise you, it's beautiful. God made you a woman, therefore you are the essence of beauty. Therefore you don't have to try; you just have to be.