In Part 1 we talked about how God has asked us to stop molding ourselves to what culture says about us, and instead, believe what God says.
What do the cultures you’re a part of tell you about women?
FIRST OFF: if you want to know the answer to that question, you’ll very rarely find it in the explicits. We absorb the values of our cultures through (1) the structures – the way we fit in the cultures around us and (2) the relational experiences we have – the way people respond to us and feel about us.
So, it’s no wonder we have somewhat confused identity struggles as women. Think about where we fit in the societies around us. What does the wage gap communicate about our value as women. Think about the % of leaders that are women, the kinds of roles they have in leadership, the kind of women who are promoted to leadership
These things are teaching us what the world thinks is good and acceptable about women.
And think about the relational experiences our cultures offer us. Think about when women’s emotions are often laughed at; when women are called crazy, when our perspectives are dismissed as hormonal. Consider the way the medical system is often dismissive of so many women’s concern around their lack of sexual fulfillment. Think about the way court systems respond to women who say they’ve been raped.
All these teach us how to evaluate what is good and acceptable and perfect about women; they teach us who we are.
Here’s the thing – our fundamental self is not in question. It’s not up for grabs. We are who we are. We are well made, by a glorious creator. All culture has the power to do is teach us to emphasize certain aspects of who He made us to be and neglect others; to imitate or try to be things we aren’t or repress things we are. That’s what it means to conform. And God calls us away from that, to listen to His truth of who we are, and walk in it.
God tells us explicitly who we are, but He also tells us through structures – through where we fit in His world – and relationships – through how he feels about us.
So, think about where you fit in God’s world? Do you even know that God says that our church body cannot grow – regardless of how many people go to the ends of the earth or how great the preaching is on Sunday – if YOU are not functioning properly? Do you even know that it’s not arrogance to believe that you are necessary for the purposes of God? (Or if it is, Paul missed that memo because he says that he is only alive because it is necessary that he exist for other people.)
And think about the relational experiences God offers us. He says he’ll never leave us and then He doesn’t. He says He is willing to give nations, peoples, in exchange for you, and then He lets you experience it. He gave JESUS in exchange for you.
We have some pretty solid positions in God’s world and we have some pretty incredible relational experiences with Him that speak to our value and worth, but in case that’s not enough, He also tells us explicitly who we are in Christ. He tells us that we are “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” And I don’t care how broken we want to say we are because of sin in this world – For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. If Adam’s blood made you a sinner, you better believe the blood of the Son of God has the power to make you a saint.
But here’s the deal – I doubt that anyone reading this doesn’t know these things I’m writing.
I don’t think I’m the first person to tell you that God loves you and values you and has redeemed you and called you by name and says you’re worthy. You sing it every Christmas – you sing about how your soul has felt its worth.
We know all this. We know what God says about who we are.
We just don’t believe Him.
Because we’re conforming to culture. We’re scared that if we believe what God says – if we truly embrace our value and significance – it might come across as if we’re man centered, or as if we’re stealing glory from God, or as if we’re arrogant.
And irony is that in trying not to be man centered we put man at the absolute center by saying that we know better than Him who we are. In trying not to steal glory from God we diminish His glory – because believing Him is what makes him look glorious. The irony is that in our attempt to not appear arrogant in this culture – we actually stand arrogantly before God and tell him He’s wrong.
Look, it’s hard. It is hard to walk in the freedom of what God says about our value and worth, because we’re designed to receive information about who we are from the world around us, and it’s a hard fight not to conform to that. I’m fine with us saying that it is hard to believe God instead of the cultures we’re surrounded by. I’m fine with us knowing that it is a process – that it will take time to walk in the full value and significance He says we have.
I’m just not okay with us behaving as if it’s godliness to doubt our worth. I’m just not okay with calling it humility when we stand before the Creator and tell Him he doesn’t know the worth of His own creation.
what kinds of behaviors have you seen rewarded in girls/women around you in the different cultures you are a part of? And how has that shaped you?
how are relational experiences you’ve had impacting your ability to experience how God feels about you?
do you view yourself as a necessary and valuable contributor to the world? why or why not? how has culture shaped your answer?
how have your experiences in relationships and social structures shaped what you like or don’t like about yourself