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 (Manna 38: Women in the Bible)
The Christian Woman In You
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L: It was one evening in the summer of 2002. Across some considerable miles, my friend and I talked over the phone. It was a wonderful conversation, and, during its course, we decided to co-author an article about some of the insecurities we face, some of the realizations we’ve made through the Bible, and how we can face imperfections as Christian women.

Even though every woman is a unique creation of God, we share much of the same worries and experiences. What we hope to share with you in this short piece are some of the things that the Lord has helped us discover about ourselves and how we’ve found renewed assurance in knowing that we are not alone.

Accepting Our Bodies

L: Having a healthy Christian perspective about our bodies isn’t as easy as it seems. Women seem to suffer from an infinite dissatisfaction with their appearance. How do we love ourselves when we look in the mirror everyday and are reminded that our nose is too big, our chest too flat, or our cheeks too round?

Everybody’s insecurities are different. For me, it’s my weight. The first thing I notice isn’t what I see in the mirror, it’s the number on the scale. I don’t understand-I eat healthily and exercise as often as I can, so why don’t I like what I see?

S: Weight is probably the one problem that perpetually plagues women. The media has a lot to do with perpetuating an unhealthy definition of the ideal body. Christian women are not immune to the idea that “thinner is better.” Whether we admit it or not, many of us do care a lot about our weight.

L: For quite some time, my weight was a thorn in my side until one day, as I was reading the Bible, God warned and comforted me with these words:

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? (1 Cor 6:19)

I realized that I couldn’t obtain my “ideal body” because I didn’t see myself the way God saw me. God sees my body as the temple of His Holy Spirit, the place where He dwells. This verse reminds me that my body is not my own.

“For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor 6:20). I was bought at a price, and this price was the crucifixion of the Son of God for my sake. With His body He purchased mine.

S: Seeing my body as God’s gift helped me understand that I shouldn’t do harmful things to myself for the sake of looking good (i.e. starving myself to stay thin, spending too much time and money keeping abreast of the latest fashions, etc.).
I try to remember the biblical principle that our adornment should be the “hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Pet 3:4).

There’s a difference between wanting to look good out of self-respect and wanting to look good out of vanity. Self-respect stems from the understanding that we are God’s creation, and, because we are His creation, we value and take care of our physical bodies. Vanity stems from the desire to be admired or envied. This, unfortunately, indicates a need to be better than others in order to gain a sense of self-worth.

It’s hard to draw the line between pride and vanity, so we should search our heart to determine which condition our actions reflect. This issue is really between God and us, and not between other women or other men and us.

L: Understanding that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit mended how I look at what God has given me. If I learned anything, it would be that it is not good to despise the creation of God. To be happy with how we look is an indication that we are thankful for what we have, and what we have comes from God.
Coming to terms with this also reminded me that whatever God has created, He created because “He [also] saw that it was good” (Gen 1:10). And what is good to Him is good for me.

Accepting Our Limitations

L: Many women I know want to have it all and do it all. We build dreams and ambitions, and we even create timelines for when we want to achieve them. But when we are unsuccessful in the things we do, we automatically think there’s something innately wrong with us.

S: Sometimes I can be hard on myself, too, attributing failures to causes I know are not true-such as “I must have done something wrong in the past and God is punishing me for it now” or “I must have been born with this inability to…”
Accepting failure does not come easy for most people. The people we associate with, as well as the stage of life we are at, plays a factor in how well we deal with failure, as well as, because they define what’s important and what’s not, and they can provide (or not provide) the right kind of support.

I have come to understand that accepting our limitations and failures is a rite of passage into maturity. When I encounter failure, I try to make the most of what I have and move on, instead of looking back and harping on what cannot be regained.

L: With each passing year, I’ve become less dreamy and less ambitious. Not to say that I don’t think dreams and ambitions are important, because I do. They keep me disciplined, creative, and focused on my future. Rather, it’s my limitations that set me back. But I’ve discovered that dreams, ambitions, and limitations need to complement one another. This helps me juggle disappointment in a healthier way, and this affords me peace of mind and genuine reliance on God.

And He said to me, “My Grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor 12:9)

S: When it comes to aspirations and failures, Peter provides the most vivid example for me. Here is a man whom our Lord Jesus loved and who loved Jesus in return, even to the end of his life. But in his walk with Jesus, there were times when he failed miserably.
He wanted to walk on water but ended up sinking in the waves (Mt 14:28-31). He boldly declared that even if all were to stumble and deny Jesus, He would never (Mt 26:31-35). Alas, when Jesus was arrested, it was this same Peter who swore that he never knew Jesus (Mt 26:69-74).
Aren’t these things that many of us can identify with? We aspire to many things but often realize that we’ve thought too highly of ourselves.
Peter’s life, however, does inspire me to always hold on to one principle. When the waves overwhelmed Peter, he cried out to the Lord, “Save me!” Peter knew whom to call upon when he was sinking. Life always dishes out more troubles and setbacks than we can handle. The important thing is never to lose sight of whom we can cry out to for help. In life’s tumultuous sea, this provides an anchor that stabilizes my heart. No matter what, I know that He is there to reach out His hand and lead me safely back to the boat.

L: Just like Peter, I realize that when I fall short of my achievements, God compensates with His grace and mercy. Each time I run into a dead end, “He must increase, and I must decrease” (Jn 3:30).
So when things don’t turn out the way I plan, my pride may suffer, but that’s okay, because what I gain, I gain through Jesus Christ. And through Him is also where I find joy. Let’s always rely on our Lord Jesus to walk us “safely back to the boat.”

Facing Doubts and Self Worth

Sometimes ’mid scenes of deepest gloom, Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom, By waters still, over troubled sea, Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me . . .
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Publisher: True Jesus Church