I’m at a time in my life where I’m figuring out for myself what it means to be a woman — and one who is after God’s heart. Topics like being a girlfriend and eventually becoming a mother seem to be permeating most of my conversations nowadays.
Which begs the question: I wonder what kind of woman I am, what kind of girlfriend/wife/mother I’d be and if I’m doing a good job so far according to God’s standards.
I then thought about the person whom I feel is the epitome of a godly woman in my life: My mother. While she isn’t perfect and her temper does flare on the rare occasion (especially when my room is in a mess), my mother has walked out a life in holiness to the best of her abilities.
I’ve been privileged to have had the front row seat in observing her walk out her faith with God and every time I look at her life, I find the encouragement and inspiration that I too can do the same.
Here are two major lessons I’ve learnt by looking at the life of my mother:
1. MEEKNESS IS NOT WEAKNESS
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment such as braided hair or gold jewelry or fine clothes, but from the inner disposition of your heart, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in God’s sight.” (1 Peter 3:3-4)
From the outside, my mother appears to be a soft-spoken and reserved woman. She’s anything but. She may not feel the need to be the center of attention, but a conversation with her will tell you that she is a woman of opinion and is confident on where she stands.
You’ll rarely hear her rebutting anyone should they question her, but she douses the intensity of the situation calmly, usually with laughter. And instead of confronting the other person, she states her own thoughts in a way that still manages to refrain from discrediting the other person’s opinions.
In some cases, it’s wiser to keep silent than to pursue a matter — and not every challenge is an invitation to a debate.
I, on the other hand, take after my dad. I always felt like it’s my human right to defend my views and values if they are being prodded or challenged. But with my own eyes I’ve seen my mother choose silence over confronting the many people who have outrightly challenged her. I never understood why she would allow people to walk over her like that.
But I’ve been taught (by both the Holy Spirit and my mother) that it takes strength and courage to walk away from a situation where you feel like you deserve to be heard and where you feel like you need to protect your values.
The Bible says that women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers (1 Timothy 3:11). I’ve learnt that in some cases, it’s wiser to keep silent than to pursue a matter — and not every challenge is an invitation to a debate.
2. CHARACTER TRUMPS BEAUTY
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)
A hot button topic among me and my friends, the subject of beauty and its relevance in today’s culture has made me more annoyed than anything else.
Personally, I disagree with the way beauty has been made into something that the world constantly holds over our heads as women. It’s as if to say that if we don’t look a certain way, we’re deemed as less worthy as compared to someone who fits into the stereotypical definition of what beauty is.
Like many, I’ve struggled with issues of self-worth and grappled with whether or not my ordinary looks meant I was inferior compared to a girl who was prettier. As I was growing up and navigating the choppy waters of puberty and my insecurities with how I looked, my mother has never stopped reminding me that God is not concerned about my outward appearance but He looks at my heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
I’m taught that a heart that is hungry and in pursuit of God is more attractive than a perfect body ratio and a stunning face.
I’ve been blessed to have parents who have never made me any less worthy because of my looks or the way I dressed. My mother constantly knocks it into my head that my character is worthy of more investment than the curation of my wardrobe.
She tells me that I can either choose to worry about something that is fleeting (like charm and beauty), or I can be more concerned about what God thinks of me. I’m taught that a heart that is hungry and in pursuit of God is more attractive than a perfect body ratio and a stunning face.
She once told me; “You can jolly well look the part of a model, but if your character sucks and if you have no capacity for compassion or love for anyone else apart from yourself, you’re as good as nothing.” Harsh, but I couldn’t agree more.
My mother models for me what a reverend fear of God looks like: It’s choosing to do His will, even if I may feel like I would be looked down upon in the world’s eyes. And I do this not because of legality, but because it is out of an authentic love for the One who gives me my worth.
It was impossible for me to believe this a few years ago, but I can now safely say that I am becoming who God has intended for me to be — slowly but surely. And although it doesn’t feel like it yet, I know God made me wonderfully and fearfully and completely.
I see God asking me to trade in my hard and strong-headed exterior for a tenderness He wants for my heart. Womanhood is an exciting thing to discover, but it’s even more fulfilling when I discover the God who fleshes out the woman in me.