There was a time I didn’t like the word “feminine.” Because before I considered myself a Military Wife, my focus was on being a Professional Woman. And Professional Women had to compete in the Man’s World. And in the Man’s World, aka, the corporate world, acting feminine, at least in my experience, usually meant accepting second place. And I really didn’t like that position.
So I tried to compete with the guys. I wore the red blazers; I was aggressive in the staff meetings. I wasn’t afraid to speak my mind or express my point of view. But I soon discovered that only got me ugly looks and annoyed stares from the women I worked with.
Then I thought that perhaps I needed to soften up. Be more feminine. So I started dressing softer, and trying to be softer. But the day I showed up to a corporate speaking training one weekend wearing a pale pink sweater and flowing long skirt, the female trainer promptly pulled me aside and suggested I think about red blazers.
Huh? I was so confused.
That confusion stayed with me even after I left the corporate world behind and came home to write and lead a ministry. How could I lead and still be lead by my husband? How could I pursue my calling and still be willing to follow, all lady-like and demure? And is that even what real biblical femininity looks like? It was a bumpy tight rope I walked, one that I admittedly didn’t walk very well. Especially in heels.
It can be challenging, though, to pursue God’s best when so often the world coaxes us to settle for less. Or what’s easier. Or a lot more attractive by society’s standards. Today, we’re told, women can do it all. And by themselves if they choose.
At church, it’s not unusual to hear wives, when asked how many children they have, to include their husbands in the number.
As the founder of a ministry for military wives, I often hear the question from women young and old – “how do I let my husband be the head of our household when he’s gone for a year at a time, multiple times?”
And even when we as wives do everything we can, we may have husbands who are not interested in being the spiritual leaders of our homes.
I recently spent an entire year attempting to pursue the traits of the Proverbs 31 wife. This woman is the super wife so many of us wish we could be, and the woman we want our husbands to see in us.
But instead of being the domestic diva I thought I could become, I ended up learning an entirely different set of lessons. That it was less about the tasks I performed, and more about my heart. It was less about finishing off a to-do list, and more about changing my attitude. My perspective. That experience – rather, that experiment, as I called it – changed my whole view of what it meant to be a wife, and a mother, and took me much closer to understanding what biblical femininity looks like.
God has called us to a higher standard.
I think a lot about the verse in Jeremiah that says “I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born…” (Jeremiah 1:5). I often encourage military wives to remember that before they knew they would be military wives, God did. I think we can also apply this as wives in general. Before we knew we would be wives and for some of us, mothers, God knew. And He set us apart for these roles, and He has given us the opportunity to be blessings to our families.
As women who are in relationship with Him, He has called us to a higher standard, and a higher purpose. It can be tempting sometimes to look at other women in our culture – celebrities or just friends we see on Facebook, and shake our heads in shock and disgust at their attitudes or behavior or choice of dress (or lack thereof). But if they don’t know God – if they don’t have that committed relationship with Christ – then what is their standard to live by? It’s what society dictates. Or whatever goes at the moment. And yet, our guideline, our guidebook, those of us who know God, comes from what God’s Word says. And that’s where we can show the difference. To our families. To our friends. To the people around us. In gentle love, as well as quiet confidence that can only come from knowing Christ.
…By seeking to bring our husbands good and not harm. For a long time, I did not intentionally seek out to bring my husband good. I didn’t intentionally mean to bring him harm, either, but I was very focused on my wants, my needs, and my happiness. But God has taught me during the last year what it means to really live out this verse (Proverbs 31:12), in a way that has brought some wonderful blessings to our marriage and to our family life. For while my husband is called by God to lead our family, I’ve been called to inspire and encourage that calling. Through the words I use (or don’t use), the peace and kindness I share (or don’t share), and the motivation and encouragement I pass on.
…By focusing on God’s thoughts over our own. Lately, I’ve been applying Philippians 4:8 towards my life as a wife and a mom. “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable – if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise – dwell on these things.”
Biblical femininity starts from within. It’s less about dress, or behavior, or actions and more about the heart. Because when the heart is right, the rest falls into place. And the heart is right when it’s focused on the things of God.
…By demonstrating Christ’s love by example to our families. As women, we are such an influence on our families, for better or for worse. When we seek with all our hearts to follow Christ and His example, setting the temperature in our homes to be a peaceful one, showing love and providing an environment that allows that love to grow, God uses our influence for His good.
As women in relationship with God, we are called to follow His lead, to demonstrate His likeness through our actions, words and presence. There is no greater calling.
Sara Horn is an author, speaker and founder of Wives of Faith, a faith-based military wives ministry. Her most recent book, My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife, tells the story of her one-year experiment following Proverbs 31. Visit her website at sarahorn.com.
Want to win a copy of her book? Sara is giving away a copy of her book, My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 Wife, to one lucky reader of HiveResources.com.
To enter to win, simply leave a comment before midnight Friday, Oct. 21. Contest has ended.
Winner from Random.org is:
1st: HEATHER MCDEVITT
Congratulations Heather! I’ll be emailing you shortly! Thank you to all who participated!