This morning, I made banana bread. We’re having a slow morning breakfast of hot oatmeal with a platter of fruit. I made a pot of french press and I spent time reading my Bible and meditating, praying and waiting on God. Then I gave them hour-long baths from which they emerged with pruny, wrinkled, soft skin. We will make a hot lunch here at home. We’ll read books, homeschool, and be creative, if the rain holds off we’ll play outside. My husband will call a few times from work to check on us and say hello. I’m knitting a baby sweater for my newest little niece. Tonight, I’ll make supper. I handle almost all of the housework (except vacuuming – I loathe vacuuming with a deadly loathing).
These are days when my daily life looks like I believe in biblical womanhood as defined by fundamentalists.
Then there are other days. The Monday and Friday of our week when we wake up and I dash for the shower. The mornings of cold cereal and backpacks stocked with diapers and Blankies and changes of clothing. The mornings when the tinies are strapped in their carseats by 7:30 to be whisked away to the babysitter’s house for the day. The days when I wear my dress pants and sit at a computer or make phone calls all day, design and code, advocate and climb the mountain of funding a non-profit, step by painful step, unashamedly asking for help for those that can’t ask for themselves. These are the days when I come home late in the day, when Brian makes grilled cheese sandwiches or oatmeal for supper and I come in when the tinies are already in their jammies for bed.
Those are the days when my life looks like a thoroughly modern career woman’s life, typical of most in our society.
I used to feel like I didn’t fit in church. I loved learning and reading, I liked to ask questions. Then, when I became a wife, I also had a career that I quite enjoyed. I have also felt like I, too, have a deep calling and vocation as a writer and artist. My husband has a calling as a pastor but he has never belittled or devalued mine as being unequal with his and we learned to be mutually supportive. We are unapologetically egalitarian in our views on roles in marriage, deeply believing in mutual submission and leadership as opposed to male headship. Then I had my tinies and sometimes, as someone pursuing a more gentle form of Christian parenting, I can feel another difference.
We have walked through seasons in our marriage when I was a full-time stay-at-home-mum, seasons when I was a full-time working mother, a season when my husband was the primary caregiver and homemaker for us and now, a hybrid mish-mash of all of the above.
At no time, in all of those seasons, did I feel more “biblical” than any other.
I know that I felt happier or more sane or settled or more at peace in certain seasons or with certain decisions, but more Christian? No.
I can say that because I don’t believe that you can define being biblical by a list of chores or opinions which you decide to believe, a schedule or a to-do list. I don’t believe that being a Christian wife (or, more broadly, a disciple of God) is defined exclusively by how well we adhere to rules or a new law.
That’s why I feel confident in saying this: I am a biblical woman.
Not because my life resembles the latter half of Proverbs 31 with such stunning accuracy. Or because my husband is the “head of our home.” Nor is it because I manage our household and the raising of our children. Nor is it because I work with my hands or homeschool or fulfill a long list of chores and ideals born of a sitcom society that never truly existed.
I am a biblical woman because I live and move and have my being in the daily reality of being a follower of Jesus, living in the reality of being loved.
Biblical womanhood isn’t so different that biblical personhood.
Biblical personhood becomes a dead list of rules when it becomes a law to keep. If we have a long list of rules – put others first! be generous! give money! believe this! do that! – it’s a dead religion from a glorified rule book.
But when your heart, mind and soul is deep within the reality of living loved, we discover that those “rules” are really just characteristics, the natural fruit to be borne out of a meaningful life changing relationship. And there are many expressions and ways to live out love, joy, kindness, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control, peace and goodness – as men, as women, as mothers, as fathers, as friends.
After all, if we one believes that Jesus is a relationship then there must be room for each of us having a unique relationship, vocation, season or calling.
So I work outside the home. I am an advocate and I am a writer.
And I am a woman that loves God deeply and loves her family wildly.
Those things are not in opposition for me, so I wish that some would stop trying to make them so.
A slightly edited repost from the archives.