Posted on November 21, 2009
Who Do You Want To Be?
There is something to be said for knowing one’s self, but identifying one’s self is something entirely different. It’s nothing short of amazing to me to see the ways in which I have changed through each year of my life, and of how I have transformed from girl to young lady to woman. And even as such, I still have next to no idea what that really means. I know who I am, I know my name, what I like, what I dislike, what I’ve experienced and what I desire. All of that is pertaining only to me, but what about me as a woman? That’s an entirely separate entity, however marked with many of the same traits that I likely share with the other more than three billion women in this world.
I have one friend who is dear to me for reasons that are unique to her. Emily and I have known each other since we traded juice boxes in kindergarten, and more than two decades later, I’d still share my lime Kool-Aid with her. Two years ago she found herself moving to Europe, and as of right now, she’s dreamily drifting back and forth between Spain and Portugal.
Yesterday Emily and I were talking like we normally do every few weeks, and as she shared with me some of the challenges she’d been facing lately, the topic of being a woman surfaced in our discussion. While it’s honest to say that the delicacies of the fairer sex can at times be a source of great frustration and eye-rolling for many men, make no mistake that we frustrate our own selves just as much. Men may find us to be complex, complicated, emotional and even – at times – ridiculous, but we women often paint ourselves with the same brush. It’s difficult to grasp objectivity when we look at ourselves.
The epiphanies that Emily and I concluded on seemed to be an incredible light bulb moment for us both. Women over-think, overanalyze, over-scrutinize, calculate and solve problems. While those traits can, on the surface, be charming to very few, Emily and I realized that it’s simply in our nature as women. It is ingrained in our feminine disposition to nurture, to love, to resolve, to maintain control, create order out of chaos, to make peace and to roll up our sleeves and get the dirty work done. So often we’re encouraged to do the opposite, but going against the fabric of what defines us is nothing short of stifling.
Many may argue that the Bible is an unreliable source, but it’s been trusted in by hundreds of generations as a compass for life. While some will fight tooth and nail to prove that it’s the absolute Word of God, it’s hard for me to believe that, through countless versions and languages, more than a few things haven’t been lost in translation along the way. However, the messages and parables of peace, love, kindness, righteousness and trust are never off course. This afternoon I found myself at the end of Proverbs:
“Her worth is far above jewels…
[She] works with her hands in delight…
She considers a field and buys it;
From her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She girds herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.
She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night…
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain.”
Proverbs 31: 10-30 (NASB)
Too often I find myself beating myself up for what is in my very nature. Society commonly lends itself to unspoken and unwritten expectations of cynicism, hopelessness, guarded and implicit behavior in women. Women who display love and a gentle nature are often the first suspects.
Just as it is for Emily, so too will your life never be without challenges, tests of strength, events that shape your character and dealings that result in ultimate joy. At times things can seem downright frightening, but the only thing worth fearing is an existence so stagnant that we are no longer presented with the opportunities that are imperative to becoming the people –and the women – that we are each capable of being. No one knows whom the woman King Lemuel spoke of in that particular passage is, but I know for certain that’s the type of woman I aspire to be.