I recently read the introduction to a book, and the authors gave me this brilliant idea! They said that when they first starting talking about the concept of their book, they brought to mind a particular person they were writing to – not an audience, but one specific person. Who is that person? What are they like? What are they struggling with? What is the message for them?
I thought this was a brilliant idea, and may help me as I walk through this process of finding my voice on this medium. Blogging may not be where I end up; but it’s where I’m starting. And as I get more serious about writing, I want be clear to whom I am writing – and what message I have for her.
Yes, my “who” is a woman, although men could listen in if they wish. But the person I have in my mind’s eye is a woman; I am going to name her Sophia.
Sophia has led a particularly “good” life. There have been no major tragedies in her life or her family; just the normal stuff that happens to every family. Grandparents dying; people getting sick. She does not come from a divorced family; her parents love one another and have modeled a strong marriage example to her. No addictions have plagued her or any close friends or family.
Bottom line for Sophia: When she considers all that could have happened in her life, she realizes that God has been gracious to her. She looks at the lives of others around her and feels so ill-equipped to be of any tangible help because she compares her struggles to their and finds no match.
Sophia is in her mid-40s and has never been married. She has always wanted to be married, but it just has not happened for her. She has had some pretty negative experiences with romantic relationships, and is slightly jaded by that.
Sophia has always felt slightly out of place in any environment. She doesn’t have a sense of true belonging in any setting, and always feels like she’s 10 steps behind everyone around her. She hasn’t quite gotten beyond that “awkward” stage in her mind. She is perpetually awkward. She has endured rejection from peers from the time she was a child, and has become a bit of a loner as a result. Laying down roots is hard for her. She is what she would term “bicultural” – of one ethnicity, but identifying with another. There are elements of her ethnic background that she resonates with; others, not so much. She lives on what she terms “the fringe”, straddling a fence between two cultural worlds, but not feeling fully a part of either.
There is a lingering guilt that hangs over her because of this aspect of her personality and life. She feels defective somehow. And even in the church, the requirement to choose is baffling and discouraging to her. She doesn’t like being in a homogenous environment either way. And because of the current cultural climate in the church around the issue of race, she feels like she has to pick a side, which is against her nature. There is no side except Christ. If we are all in Christ, we see the travails of one brother or sister as our travails.
Sophia also struggles with the idea of Biblical womanhood and what it means to be a woman. Sophia cannot have children. This has challenged her self-perception of what is means to be a woman. How does she define that when she can’t do the one thing women were designed to do? How does she navigate a world as a single woman when her only desire was to be married and have a family? How does she stay motivated in work settings when her heart still longs for something that has proven so elusive to her?
She is not what she envisions when she thinks of biblical womanhood. She is not what she reads about on websites like Revive our Hearts, or even Proverbs 31 Ministries. She’s a theology geek; she loves to reading 1000+ page books by dead theologians and thinking about the different interpretations of terms like predestination and election. She labors over the decision of whether she is Calvinist or Arminian, and wonders about a third way. She is also a politics junky. She loves watching political analysis, is liberal leaning in a conservative Evangelical world, and wonders why people can’t see beyond the arbitrary labels to get to the truth of the matter.
Sophia wants to find peace and contentment in her life and circumstances. She wants to stop thinking so much about what she’s doing right or wrong, and lean into being. Being in Christ. Loving in Christ, living in Christ.
What is my message to Sophia?
You don’t have to do the “big thing” to be okay with God.
You don’t have to try to change the world.
You don’t have to prove your worthiness before the Lord.
The only bandwagon to jump on is the Lord’s.
He has given you a select set of skills, gifts and passions and wants you to be in the world through those things. You are not expected to be equally passionate about everything. It’s not humanly possible. No one has the right to pass judgment on your love for God and neighbor based on their skills, gifts and passions. We are all needed to fulfill our role. To stay in our lane and do our thing. All for the good of the Church. We are not meant to be clones of each other.
Social media does not define you.
The Woke crowd does not define you.
The “badass” women who want to overthrow the patriarchy do not define you.
The stereotyped Susie-homemaker biblical womanhood “godly men only want debt-free, non-tattooed virgins” crusaders do not define you.
God defines you.
So, in a nutshell, I’m writing to me – and you. And every woman who has ever felt confused about who they are and how they are supposed to be in this world. Most of us are a mixed bag – a set of contradictions with a dash of weird. None of us fit into nice, neat categories or marketing demographics. Human nature is complex.
We all search for something beyond ourselves, even if we deny it. Our actions betray us. The only One beyond us is God – the God of the manger in Bethlehem and the cross at Calvary. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He defines us; He saves us; He remakes us. If we are in Christ, you belong to Him. You are His child. You are His beloved. You are simply His.