At last night’s Lenten series at Christ Episcopal Church in Budd Lake, NJ, we studied the Psalm 139 Scripture passage. Each week it is part of the curriculum to read the Bible passage, journal about what we read—questions, historical observations, cultural observations, and how it is applicable to ourselves, read a reflection from monks or other historical church figures, and then meditate.
As I sat there, I knew many other women in the room were reflecting on their own pregnancies (most of the women attending the series are older with children). My girth and the occasional kick from within helped me to digest this passage even deeper than I have before. God’s timing is perfect. We waited so long and when I had resolved to hopelessness, that we’d never conceive a child of our own, God stitched this new life inside me. I laughed like Sarah. (If it flowed together better perhaps we’d name a kid Isaac.)
That long time waiting made me feel inadequate. I felt like my body couldn’t do something as basic as conceive a child. I thought Frank and I would have to utilize science to have a child of our own. As I read this passage over, I am reminded that God didn’t make a mistake when he made me. Even if I never conceived he would not consider me a failure. He has a purpose for each being in his creation. For some that entails parenthood, others marriage without kids, and others singleness. Each individual is part of the body and has a role to play. It isn’t always clear what God’s will is, but one thing that is certain in his will is that we are to praise him through all the mountains and valleys of life.
As an opinionated extrovert, I often feel like I’m a burden to friends and family. I feel as if I’m too much. So yes, God wants me transformed into his image, but this doesn’t mean that in order to be the woman God has made me to be that I must be docile and keep to my home. In Christ, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am a strong woman and when I yield that to Christ, I can do incredible things for the kingdom of God. I, too, can play a part in ministry, and not just to women in my own demographic.
There are other women who can do amazing things for the kingdom as well. Ellen, the pastor at the church, leads with compassion and confidence. As she read the passage of Scripture, and some of the other women did too, the words came alive. Scripture was illuminated, which I find it is often stale and stumbled over in evangelical circles today. Ellen is a great leader because she consults the congregation and doesn’t appear to assert a unilateral authority. She is also sincere in her prayers. Last night she led the group in a time of communal prayer. As we held hands and her voice reverberated praise and petition, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in prayer the way I haven’t felt him before. We were a community in prayer (something about holding hands made it feel more communal), not just individuals gathered in a room praying, and being guided by a humble, strong woman.
God created woman too. She is Adam’s helper, but Adam is hers too. Women are not inferior. God made woman and felt that she is a creation, fearfully and wonderfully made. He intentionally breathed life into us so that we might give our brothers company, stripping loneliness, and making man better by our presence.
God searches us and knows us. He has designed us with purpose. In ways where we need correction, to be molded more in Christ’s image, he disciplines (as he does similarly with men). He sees our unformed bodies and knits us together in our mother’s womb. A woman carries a child in her womb, not a man.
May our child always understand the power a woman has and her ability to excel and strengthen society when she is yielded to God. May our child always know that each being is made intentionally. God made every person and has a journey for them, and that definitely includes extroverted, strong-willed women too.