What Is Biblical Womanhood?

What Is Biblical Womanhood?

What does “Biblical womanhood” look like to you? When you hear those words, what comes to mind?

Do you picture a woman tucking her kids into bed, cleaning her sink? Maybe you see the Proverbs 31 lady rising before dawn.

Maybe Jesus shows you a picture of yourself, right where you are, in the very spot and season that you’re in.

The picture you see might be heavily influenced by the denomination you grew up in or the current culture you find yourself in now.

The image of a devoted, Christian woman is unique and subjective to each person, right?

I am a homemaker. I don’t have a profession outside the home; I raise children and homeschool them and make sure they have happy, full bellies and hearts.

To some, that image may be their view of biblical womanhood. We say prayers at bedtime, I read my children bedtime stories, I teach them about the heart of Jesus etc. I make a safe, cozy home for the next generation.

On the flip side of this coin, I have a friend. She is not in a season of her life where she wants to have kids or be married. She is a “career women” being used in incredible ways in the field God placed her in. She loves the Lord and serves Him at her church and loves her community hard.

Is she a Christian woman in right standing with the Lord?

Who gets to decide that?

I’m seeing a trend in faith-based media that worries me.

I love being a wife, and I love being a mom, so please hear my heart in that. I just don’t believe those are the only callings God has in life for women.

If a woman is led to be a stay at home mom, I absolutely stand behind her. Obviously, that’s my life!

But if God has designed a woman with the aspects needed to be a brain surgeon, who are we to say that’s not what the Lord wants her to do?

Or, is this only a topic for debate if the job isn’t white collar, but is ministry focused instead?

Is it fine for a woman to work outside the home for a noble cause, just not leading a ministry? Is it okay to save a man from cancer but not lead him to Christ?

Just this week I read an article in the New Yorker about evangelical women in their “linen sundresses.” I won’t lie, I do love a good sundress!

What an observation of current Christian social trends right now, they sure do have us pegged haha… Linen and wicker and thrifting, oh my!

Listen, if linen dresses are how you outwardly express your femininity, that’s wonderful and should be enjoyed.

But in no way does that make professional suit pants and a sharp blouse any less feminine. Or the Carhartt another woman wears to care for her livestock.

In light of eternity, none of that matters.

We need to stop anchoring womanhood to an aesthetic, because it goes far deeper than your fashion or home decorating style.

I’m seeing this Instagram glamorized homemaking image that does not serve all women that –hear me out– might lead to even more dissension in the Body of Christ.

Here’s why: You can be a devoted woman of God and work outside the home. You can love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and not be a mother.

Your worth in the Kingdom, your calling to “go forth and make disciples” will not look like everyone else’s. We MUST stop this glorification of personal preference or conviction to be the convictions of ALL women.

All of this *waves broadly at social media* does not define your womanhood.

That page you follow is someone’s life portrayed online, the captions are their opinions and perspective, their lifestyle might be something they enjoy or even something they’ve been called to do…

But if those pretty little squares and practiced-to-perfection reels make you doubt where the Lord has you– that’s a stumbling block, dare I say it.

I am seeing women bicker online about “well women shouldn’t do this, women can’t say that, here’s where God designed you to be” etc and truly, it makes me sick to my stomach.

“Well God may have called Deborah, but you’re not a Deborah.” Who is anyone to speak for the Almighty God and tell a woman her calling isn’t as powerful or huge as Deborah’s? Because it doesn’t look like your domestic view of womanhood, and that makes you uneasy?

Let me be the one to free you right now, someone else having a different calling or a different conviction to how they live does not mean your calling is wrong, and it doesn’t negate your personal convictions.

And if you feel uneasy or threatened that a woman is living differently than you and calling herself a Christian, that doesn’t mean she’s disobeying God; you need to take that to Jesus.

We waste time arguing about Scripture and context and translation and it is the resounding annoying sound of clanging cymbals.

We can nitpick Bible verses till we’re blue in the face, debate whether it was written to all of Christianity or a specific church, but is that going forth and making disciples?

Is that healing the sick and casting out demons?

I don’t recall any of Jesus’ dialogue at the end of Mark and Matthew being gendered. “These signs will accompany those who believe.”

People debate online about a few Bible verses about women, but neglect the many directives and statements made about the body of Christ that don’t differentiate male or female. It’s the Bride as a whole.

Scripture can be twisted and used for any agenda or perspective, but I wanted to throw a few things out there before I share the core of Biblical Womanhood.

Women were in the room during Pentecost.

“All these were continually united in prayer along with the women, including Mary, the mother of Jesus, and His brothers.”  (Acts 1:14) When the day of Pentecost came “they were all together in one place.” The Spirit fell on all in the room.

When Peter stands before the crowd mocking them for speaking in tongues, he quotes Joel-

In the last days, God says,

I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy,

your young men will see visions,

your old men will dream dreams.

Even on my servants, both men and women,

I will pour out my Spirit in those days,

and they will prophesy.

Still, I see other women downplaying the female prophets and ministers, telling women that they can’t “preach” because people take a few stories “out of context.” Yet they will also take a few verses out of context to make it seem completely unbiblical for women to lead ministries.

I have linked an indepth list of all the female prophets (Old and New Testament) by Marg Mowczko, a theologian with both a theology degree and a Masters specializing in jewish and Christian culture. You can read her full post on the female prophets here.

(When Paul listed ministries and spiritual gifts, he also did not mention gender. In fact, he writes about women prophesying in 1 Corinthians 11, and does not silence them. He is often misunderstood for being against women in ministry, but he knew several. You can read more about Paul’s writings + women here.)

We don’t gloss over the biblical stories of men with little detail and completely write off their worth or existence. So why do we invalidate the stories of church leaders like Phoebe, Lydia, or Junia, simply because their mentions are brief? (Just the beginning of the ladies I’d love to write about in this space.)

Paul often refers to people in his letters as diakonos, which translates to “brothers and sisters” and “servants” but also “ministers.” Paul also uses diakonos to refer to Phoebe in Romans! Same word he uses to refer to Timothy. Brothers and sisters in ministry.

Another female theologian I respect recently shared a post that checked my heart. She essentially said we get so hung up on female heros of the Bible that we aren’t paying enough attention to Jesus.

So while I share the names of female prophets and ministers in the Word, my heart behind it is this:

Women are feeding right into the divisive hands of the enemy by using platforms to argue and debate what a woman can do, rather than just focusing on pointing people to a Savior.

It’s all for naught if we aren’t showing people Jesus.

Ultimately, biblical womanhood is rooted in ministering to others and leading them to Jesus.

We are all in ministry, whether yours is a titled position in a church, raising the next generation, showing up like Jesus at work, or launching a podcast to share the gospel.

But the Great Commission is clear and ungendered. Go and make disciples!

How do you make disciples? Learn together. Teach through life. Talk about theology over dishes with your kids, tell your neighbor how God healed your knee, share with your subordinate the testimony of your salvation.

Dear women, sweet sisters in Christ, can we not get caught up in vocation as the core of our femininity? Our identity cannot be founded in earthly titles that shift in seasons.

I hate to sound cliche, but our identity is above all—redeemed daughter of the King.

Our calling is to point others to Him, and disciple them to grow as they become like Him. Just as we are still growing to look like Him!

Even if this post has not changed your heart on women’s biblical role, we can agree to disagree on theology/doctrine/translation… Can we agree on this?

The never ending debating and division on social media, in church buildings, in family living rooms– none of this points people to Christ.

A house divided can’t stand, so why would someone look in through the murky windows of a divisive faith and want to stay?

Telling women on the internet HOW they should minister in their obedience to God is wasting time that can be used to disciple and glorify God. We can’t hypercontrol what other people hear from God.

Instead of using an internet platform to berate women who might stand on a physical platform, point your following to Jesus.

Let us seek connection and a unified Bride in our pursuit of Jesus and making Heaven crowded!

Motherhood is a beautiful gift unique to women. Likewise, fatherhood a unique gift to men. We can take pride in those roles! Here’s the thing though… Not all people will be parents.

To make blanket statements towards women that motherhood is the greatest vocation you can have is a sharp slap in the face for the woman who can’t conceive. It’s presumptuous towards the woman God has called to celibacy, like Paul.

There seems to be a war in our faith both of identity and value. I have value as a stay at home mom or I have value and I work outside the home. My identity is homemaker or my identity is single.

It’s all a distraction!

Every single one of you is doing Kingdom work!

And your worth, value, and identity is not found in your vocation or marital status.

If you are a homemaker your season is amazing; pouring into your home, using your creativity to foster growth and warmth and giving your all to support your husband and kids is incredible. You get to show them Jesus.

If you are a single woman putting herself through grad school, your season is amazing. The connections you’re making for the future, the people God is giving you community with… You get to show them Jesus.

If you are a divorcee working with your kids in therapy to overcome trauma, I see you. This season might be hard but it sure is holy as you get to lead your kids towards wholeness and healing. You get to show them Jesus.

The list is neverending! Wherever you are in life, your role in womanhood is glorifying your Father.

So here’s my request for you:

Take pride in where God has you, and celebrate your sister who is somewhere else. This is not a competition.

Ask Jesus to highlight a woman to you, who may or may not be in a different season of life or vocation, and pour into her heart this week. Pray for her, lift her up with some encouragement, and ask how her heart is.

Point her to Jesus.

Hi friend! Thank you for reading today! If you feel led, I’d love for you to consider sharing this post. I’d also love to connect with you! You can contact me here on the blog, subscribe for new posts, or come hang out with me on Instagram. I hope we can chat soon!

To The Single Woman of God

To The Single Woman of God

This post is for every woman who loves Jesus and has experienced marriage or family focused ministry and felt left out or forgotten.

This post is for any woman who wants to understand her single sister’s heart.

This post is for the woman who needs to be reminded that she isn’t worth any less because she isn’t married or doesn’t have kids.


I follow quite a few pages and blogs from Christian women; devotionals, inspiration, lifestyle, theology, etc.

Most of it, I’ve noticed, can be geared toward wives and mothers. Attending a few churches and conferences, I’ve seen the same thing.

What about the single women though?

Sometimes women’s ministry isn’t inclusive of divorced women, single women, single moms, or women whose husbands aren’t Christian.

On my personal social media I made a post asking:

Dear female friends who are single, what have been some things that people have said to you that were not helpful in your season of singleness?

What things do you need to hear, or would be helpful?

What ways could the Church better support those who are single?

Do you find that church or ministry is often marriage-centric?

If you could ask for something or bring something to a leader’s attention about your spiritual needs what would you say?

The responses I received grieved my heart.

“You just have to trust God.”

^ so I’m single because I haven’t “trusted God” ? What does that mean to you? How do I not meet the standard?

“Why are you still single?”

“The chances of you finding someone to be equally yoked with are extremely low.”

“I was told because of my weight that if someone (finally) showed interest in me that I should graciously accept because it may be the only chance I get. That if I really cared about quality I would lose weight.”

“What drove me crazy was that there was always the assumption singles were looking for a mate. There was one time during a family series where we were then split into categories for an activity. He said he covered every category but literally the only category for singles was single and looking, everything for that group was around finding a spouse. It was maddening! My divorced mom was also there and had no “category” either. It felt as though my value to the church and to God didn’t start until I had a spouse. I was actually concerned about the opposite- that if I got married it would hinder my pursuit of the Lord. No one in the church seemed to have a grid for someone single who wasn’t longing for a spouse and family.”

I received comments and messages from women who were told their home didn’t have a “head” because their husband didn’t attend church.

I’m not single, but my husband no longer attends church and doesn’t practice any kind of personal faith. In my journey, I’ve had lots of time to see some of the harmful ways the church treats marriage as an idol, and how I had as well.

I’ve sat in sermons where the pastor has said, “There is nothing better than having a spouse who loves the Lord.” As if to say that singles, or those in my position somehow have less than God’s best.

I cling to Christ. Knowing Him deeply and in a way that assures me of the hope found only in Christ is better than any marriage.

I’ve also sat in leadership meetings for children’s ministry where the idea of husband and wife serving together has elevated status. Going to church alone, or taking my kids by myself, is hard enough (seriously difficult emotionally).

I don’t even know what the answer is, but there has to be a better way to approach this topic and not preach as if traditional, Christian marriage is the ultimate God experience and imply that those who don’t have that are not “as Christian.”

Personal message shared with permission.

Dear single woman of God:

You have value. Your worth is not dependent on a marriage or ring. You are a whole being, designed by God, showcasing His glory… Yes even without a husband.

Singleness isn’t a curse, and you aren’t a lower tier of Christian until you find “the one.” Your singleness is more than just preparation for marriage.

You are more than your marital status.

Your faith isn’t lacking or weak because you aren’t married.

You deserve community, I’m so so sorry for how the church at large has neglected that. The Christian media focus on finding your mate is abhorrent, you don’t need a mate to function in the Kingdom!

Where ministry has fallen flat and catered to only married couples, married women, or moms… Please know you are seen. That’s not God’s heart.

Marriage and birth and homemaking isn’t all there is for a woman of God. A wonderful task for those called, but not all will be. And the Body needs to recognize that better.

Your place in the Body of Christ is equally important as any man or married person.

Marriage and babies, while wonderful, isn’t your only purpose. It’s not even your number one purpose! Making Him known is. No part of the Great Commission says “after you’ve been married.”

Dear sister, you don’t need to settle.

If you have high standards and expectations and no one has met the mark yet, that’s okay. You deserve someone who will honor you, share your values, and celebrate your passions! You don’t need to marry someone because someone thinks you should because of age/weight/station/career/finances/etc.

Dear one, you are worth celebrating – right where you are.

You are wanted, you as a whole being. Your friendship is valuable, your presence matters!

Your identity is more than “spouse” because your God-given, Jesus-won, Calvary-redeemed identity is daughter.

Dear friend, you are an incredible champion for the Kingdom.

I am sorry for anyone who made you feel like less than because you weren’t dating/engaged/married.

Keep running your race well, keep fighting for your convictions… you are doing amazing.

As I was talking to God about this post, He highlighted a friend to me. I asked her to write something on this topic, and she was so kind to pray over it and give me a beautiful word from the Lord.

Dear reader, this is for you.

A word from
Kathryn Connors

“I was praying and asking God what he thinks about His single daughters. I was awestruck by the ferocious beauty and gold He wished to pull out of each and every one of them.

I began to see in the spirit young ladies of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, showcasing different hobbies, goals, and varying passions.

Every woman was holding the hand of a little girl version of themself. It was like the little girl inside of them was burgeoning to come out and take part in the building of their life.

I heard the Father say, “Don’t ever let her die because of grown-up things.

Little you is going to light the path of the most authentic version of you.”

I then heard the Holy Spirit say- “You are celebrated in heaven. You are celebrated on earth.

You bring value and permanency to the hearts you touch. You bring peace and you bring joy. You carry the fire, and you bring a cool drink of water to those who need it most.

When others are distracted by the world around them you are waiting, observing, and attentive to those
around you.

You bring color to a world plagued by black and white, and you have the freedom to draw outside the lines.

You don’t need to do anything to deserve or earn love, you haven’t done anything wrong to deserve “singleness”, you haven’t missed a step in the process, or have to strive to prove yourself. It is a phase for some, a season for others, a choice for many.

It is not a title tattooed to your self-worth or a sign of malfunction. You are not measured by your singleness. You are far more precious than the finest silver and gold.

You are loved because you simply are and you do not need to overcompensate to be seen.

Your voice is valuable on its own, and what you have to say matters. Do not be silenced by a world that doesn’t know it’s up from down because you my darling are perfectly and wonderfully made.

So worry not of what the future holds, but wrap yourself in blankets of His kindness and mercy.

You are royalty, my daughter. A Queen in all of her glory and splendor. Shine as bright as the stars or as soft as
moonlight.

Your life is soulfully solely yours and you are doing a magnificent job living it!”

You can find Kathryn at https://www.globalgodencounters.com/

May we as Christians remember Paul, apostle and biblical author, was single. And he had quite a bit to say about the topic! (1 Corinthians 7)

Let’s come along side our friends in pursuit of Jesus and sharing the glory of the kingdom. Let’s do life with people from different walks and stages of life, because we all have lessons we can share with other. Your perspective is unique and needed in your church family and friend circle.

If you’re reading this and married, do you have any single friends? Are there single women at your church? Let’s not wait for rings to make new friends. A single woman can disciple a married woman and vice versa!

If you’re reading this and single, or even spiritually single because of a husband who doesn’t believe – You are loved, treasured, and seen. Thank you for being here. Thank you for being present, for showing up, for being who you are.

Because you matter. All of you, just as you are.

I leave you with these final words, from an essay about Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. May we all take it to heart and love our co-laborers in Christ well.

We married people tend to assume a lot about those who are single. We assume that marriage is God’s intention for every individual. …We assume they would make better leaders, teachers, counselors, and better friends if they were married.

What if single members were encouraged to embrace their singleness as a vocation (whether
temporary or permanent) central to the life and ministry of the church?


What if married members were encouraged to look to the single, not as immature inferiors but as unique imitators of Christ and witnesses to Christ’s truth in our midst?

Singleness is no longer a burden or a stigma but a gift-both to those who are single and to those of us who are privileged to be in community with them.

Phillips, Beth (2001) “1 Corinthians 7 and Singleness in the Church,” Leaven: Vol. 9 : Iss. 3 , Article 4. Available at: https://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/leaven/vol9/iss3/4

For The Crushed In Spirit

For The Crushed In Spirit

Two years ago a pastor and mental health advocate I adored died by suicide. When I read the news I wept.

He was such a strong, powerful voice for those who loved Jesus and also struggled with depression.

In the days that followed I was mortified to see speakers and influencers denounce him and say he should never have pastored if he struggled with depression.

1) that’s a poor view of God and who He can work through and 2) read the dang room and be respectful in the days of someone’s passing.

Over and over in the Bible we see God use broken, flawed people for His glory.

People who had a speech impediment, people who struggled with depression, people who used to kill Christians.

Every person has struggles. Every pastor, leader, teacher, speaker, and podcaster has a struggle you don’t know about.

Thank you Jesus we are worth more than our private issues! We would ALL be disqualified.

Dealing with anxiety/depression/trauma/intrusive thoughts doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference in the world. It doesn’t discredit your testimony or wisdom you have to share.

Mental health struggles are no different than physical ones, we just can’t see them. They’re a lot easier to hide or make assumptions about.

A pastor who may deal with depression can still speak truth to people’s hearts. A mom who has PPD can still love her children and teach them who they are.

Your bad days do not disqualify you from the race God has called you to run.

2 Tim 1:9 says He gave us a holy calling not because of our works, but because of His grace. Nothing you do can earn His love or freedom, it was given to you.

Our effort isn’t what qualifies us for our calling!

Look at Moses, David, Elijah… Elijah experienced a powerful victory in 1 Kings and a few days later asked God to kill him.

Jeremiah cursed the day he was born. His entire ministry was filled with such difficulty that he’s called “the weeping prophet.” He cried out “why was I born if this is my life?!”

David, the man after God’s heart, someone who did great things but also made terrible choices he had to live with – “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?” (Psalm 42:11)

The Word says that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and He saves the crushed in spirit. (Ps 34:18)

If He can use these people, He can use you and me.

If you struggle with an eating disorder, that doesn’t disqualify you from God’s plan and calling.

If you’ve dealt with suicidal thoughts, that doesn’t discredit the giftings God has given you.

No matter your struggles, God has a purpose for your life. No one’s opinions or cruel words should steal that from you.

Don’t receive the lie over your life that you can’t ________ because you have had depression or anxiety or go to therapy or use medications or supplements.

Imagine telling a person with fibromyalgia they aren’t qualified to teach the word of God. They can’t help the condition they have.

Now imagine telling a person who Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that they can’t share God’s heart with the world as they deal with trauma-based anxiety.

That’s like telling God He shouldn’t use David because of all the times he lamented in the Psalms.

Do we believe in the God of the impossible or are we limiting what He can do and who He can use?

Even Charles Spurgeon wrote about the pain of mental health –

The mind can descend far lower than the body, for in it there are bottomless pits. The flesh can bear only a certain number of wounds and no more, but the soul can bleed in ten thousand ways, and die over and over again each hour.

Charles Spurgeon

God uses imperfect people to do incredible things. He has taken people with terrible pasts and given them bright futures!

Whatever you may be working through, what matters is that you are working through. Talk to safe people, go to counseling, change damaging situations.

What matters is your heart. Are you living in a way that shows people Jesus? Does your life show the fruit of the Spirit?

Just like a bad day doesn’t make a bad life, a bad mental health day doesn’t mean that’s who you are.

This week was extremely difficult and stretching for me and everything added up until I woke up one morning feeling the tension mounting inside me.

A glass falling off the nightstand and shattering was the small trigger that set off all my overwhelm, spilling over into an awful anxiety attack.

These moments the despair is so deep. The lies try to creep in to disqualify me, and imposter syndrome rears its ugly head.

“How can you expect to help people when you’re so broken?”

It’s easy to keep these thoughts and moments to ourselves, but calling them out takes their power. Reaching out to someone who loves you and will rebuke the lies calls you back into the light.

Here’s the thing, dear reader… The power of your testimony and victories, the stories of your struggles and successes, they will bring freedom to someone else going through it. Share your story, shame doesn’t get the final word.

Your struggles don’t disqualify you; they might just be what draws someone else to the Lord.

Your perseverance through your mental health battles will show someone dealing with the same thing that they aren’t alone, they aren’t worthless, and they have purpose too.

Whatever your calling in life might be: pastor, teacher, mother, writer, social media manager etc., you are an overcomer. You are a more than a conqueror. You are seen, loved, and valued.

If you ever doubt that God can use you, please flip through Scripture and see the long list of imperfect people that God used to prophesy, lead, evangelize, and heal.

You aren’t your bad days, you are more than depression or anxiety.

Most importantly – you are never alone and deeply loved above all.

The Hidden Pain Behind Mother’s Day

The Hidden Pain Behind Mother’s Day

I wrote this post a few years ago on my old blog, but I felt led to share it again.

This was written because I’ve met many other women who were raised in abusive homes struggle with Mother’s Day. There’s so many inspirational posts for new moms, great moms, those who’ve lost their moms, but not so many for those whose mom’s were harmful.

I submitted this post to a well known mom website who wouldn’t publish it because it didn’t fit with the cheerful vibe they wanted to present…. As a mom who has struggles in motherhood because of my lack of a mom that stung.

What about us, then?

Where are the encouraging posts to cheer us in despite our struggles working through trauma?

So I wrote what I couldn’t find. If you struggle with Mother’s Day because of an unsafe mom I hope this speaks to your heart.

Mother’s Day When Your Mom Wasn’t Safe

Around April, beginning of May, you start to see the mom posts. You know the ones – maybe your stomach sinks a bit when you read the titles…

The viral blogs about all the heroic, unseen tasks moms have taken on through the years, for those who can fondly celebrate their mothers.

People share the sweet photos of their moms gardening, cooking Thanksgiving dinner, smiles on graduation. It’s beautiful!

On the other side of that we see the bittersweet articles, the tender memories of those who’ve lost their mothers. We hurt for them as they share their photos in remembrance.

These friends share their favorite moments as they work through a holiday that won’t be celebrated quite the same ever again.

There’s another child who sees Mother’s Day approaching, however.

This one grew up with a mom they can’t, or don’t want to, celebrate on this holiday. Maybe they don’t even speak anymore.

I’ve noticed while there are many of us, there aren’t many blogs or support posts for those who endured abusive, unhealthy, negligent, toxic, manipulative, or addicted mothers on Mother’s Day.

Understandably, it’s a difficult topic to write on. There is a huge spectrum of people in different stages of healing from their trauma.

You seek support from friends or other family, but truthfully- they’ve not experienced it and cannot understand it at your level; and they don’t always know what to say.

They don’t know how hard this day is for you.

I have an amazing mother-in-law. Seriously! A phenomenal mother-in-love who is THE. BEST. NANA. to my girls and crazy loving towards me.

I am grateful for her every single day. And I am consistently reminded by people that while my mom isn’t in my life, I sure do have a great MIL!

Listen, I know! Trust me. I love her so stinking much.

But that’s incredibly invalidating and disheartening to hear – because its apples and oranges.

My mother in law has an awesome mother in law too! But she cannot replace her mother who lives states away, you know?

A square peg, while still a good sturdy peg, does not fit in a round hole. The round hole was made for a round peg that got broken.

I’m thankful for this family that I have through my husband… but they are who they are, and cannot quite replace that ache for what should have been.

I see my husband and his siblings and all the memories they share with their mom and my heart aches for all the memories and laughter I don’t get to have, because my memories aren’t pleasant.

My memories are screaming, threatening, name calling, emotional abuse and gaslighting; mine are my mom taking me on shopping sprees when she was in an up mood, because our house was hell when she was in a down mood.

Threatening to call the police on the family that took me in when she kicked me out. Speaking so cruelly to me that I struggled with horrific self harm and continue to fight anxiety.

Forbidding me to leave the house or have human contact, which drove me insane and led to three suicide attempts. Those are the memories that come to mind for me on Mother’s Day.

To all you who may be reading this with that strange knot in your chest on Mother’s Day. I see you.

You are not alone in that hard space, feeling sadness or envy for what you don’t have, and still feeling all the emotions towards that person who stole a healthy mom experience from you.

What a day, for the kids like us.

The ones who wept everyday, who wanted to die to be free, who were never enough, who hid, who served and gave more than we should, who lost our childhood.

What a day for women who’ve had to learn to mother their own children with no positive, healthy tools in their parenting tool belt, but plenty of fear of turning into her.

What a day for the father who wants to celebrate the mother of his own children and mourns the mother he should have had.

What a day for the people who chose not to have kids because their childhood was so traumatic.

What a day for those whose unhealthy mothers are still a part of their life, those who can’t buy a sentimental Hallmark card for the woman who hurt them, that must sit at dinner on Sunday and grit their teeth while honoring that person on “their” day

What a day for those who are still working towards their healing, plateaued in their healing, afraid of healing.

What a day for those who have moved on and found freedom and strive to do better than what was done to them.

What a day for the survivors.

Oh yes, I said it. You survived.

Its a word that makes some people pretty uncomfortable – it makes them reevaluate what unhealthy really is, what abuse really is, and its unfortunate impact.

I wasn’t beaten but my mind was beaten into submission with so much fear and hateful talk that I would rather end my life than try to leave… I’d say I survived. I know you did too.

You survived. You made it through what tried to break you, and you are on the other side!

You survived the negativity, the lies, the venom – you’re fighting back.

You survived the hitting, the punching, the slamming – they won’t touch you like that again. You are a whole human, even if you still sometimes feel like a bunch of shattered pieces.

I asked some friends to weigh in on Mother’s Day on the other side of a difficult childhood, and I’m sharing their quotes below.

“I choose not to celebrate, but when I did, when I felt forced to, I had the hardest time finding a card with a blank inside. I could never find it in me to profess all the fluffy feel goods that has been Hallmarked for this occasion.


The abuse I’ve been subjected to as a child did not stop at adulthood. Even though it was always denied. That changed on August 4th of last year. My relationship with her has always been on again off again. But on this day, she claimed to be remembering things. She then shared with me one of many memories that I’ve completely blacked out.


I really thought this was going to be a pivotal day in my life. I would imagine the ways the acknowledgment would change my life. How it would set me free.


It was a big deal and I know how much courage it took for her to admit to it.


I felt lighter.


I was so excited to share with a couple people who had the tiniest glimpse into my past.


I felt lighter until exactly two days later when the abuse continued.
I permanently broke those chains my own self and the weight of her lifelong mistreatment ended there.

So I see you. I hear you. I understand your pain and the confusion of such celebrated days for us children who were born to women who couldn’t mother.


I appreciate the glimpse of your family life now and if I can offer any suggestion, it is to celebrate the mother you’ve become despite the place you were raised.”

Staci

“There’s so much conditioned guilt and shame if you choose not to have a relationship with your mother because she is abusive.

Mother’s Day is hard for me. I LOVE being a mom to my kids and motherhood has been so healing for me in many ways, but I also long for that healthy mother/daughter relationship that I know I’ll never get. I feel a lot of grief on Mother’s Day. It’s always bothered me the lack of cards in the store for situations like this. There’s so much pressure to fake it and have relationships with people that are toxic for you, under the guise of “that’s your mother”, as if we should be grateful for years of abuse.”

Julie

“This is a wrestle point for me this year as well. One of my core beliefs/practices is honor. How can I honor someone who isn’t there? What does it look like to love well when you can not directly love that person? Here’s two things I landed on: 1) I will not let someone’s bad decision steal my joy of celebrating or being celebrated in motherhood. I’m a powerful person because I choose to keep my joy. Toxic relationships steal enough, don’t give it your power too! 2) There are multiple ways to be a mom to someone. Yes, there is a woman who you were “fearfully and wonderfully made” inside of, but there are friends, sisters, cousins, aunts, in-laws, church moms, breastfeeding moms, etc who have poured love, knowledge, wisdom, understanding into my life. It’s ok to have more than one mom. It’s also 100% ok to be in a space to grieve these things not coming from a birth mom. There aren’t words that can fix that reality, but there is healing. Be encouraged, you can celebrate this holiday and be in the tension of grief at the same time.”

Shannon

If you take away anything from this, let it be that last sentence…

Be encouraged, you can celebrate this holiday and be in the tension of grief at the same time.

Our sweet, well-meaning friends, we love them.

Their words may help or they may sting, but we can’t judge them for what they don’t know – that tension, the dichotomy, the salty and the sweet.

The joy and the pain of loss all rolled into your heart as you take on the day. The gratitude for what you have now and the grief for what you went through, and wish you had instead.

Take heart, dear friend reading this, you are not alone here. However you feel about the day, celebrating or not, your feelings are valid.

My advice this Mother’s Day?

  • Hold strong to whatever boundaries you have, and if you haven’t set boundaries it is absolutely time to guard and protect yourself.If your friends or loved ones invalidate you in anyway as you process your grief/anger/emotions on this day, don’t react – choose to respond. And maybe gently enlighten them so they can understand and be more empathetic in the future.
  • Be kind to yourself. Don’t run from the memories – face them, acknowledge them, feel them, then let them free. Process in a healthy way.
  • If you’ve chosen to cut off contact with your mom as your boundary, that is okay. If you feel the need to continue contact and work towards healing your relationship, that’s okay too. Wherever you are in your journey with the woman who raised or birthed you, I stand here with you in a quiet sea of men and women who’ve endured too.

There is community.

There is hope.

There is restoration.

There is wholeness.

There is a healing.

When Shame Writes The Story

When Shame Writes The Story

If you’ve participated in a church community for any length of time, you’ve likely heard the story of the woman at the well. The beautiful story is found in John 4 and usually has these highlights:

Samaritan. Adulteress. Unworthy. Woman. Sinner. 

Shame. Shame. Shame. 

Anytime I hear or read the word “shame”, I get that scene from The Princess Bride in my mind of the old woman screaming “Boo! BOO!” at Buttercup as the sweet girl makes the best decision she knows how to make, even by betraying her one, true love.

As I was reading Without Rival by Lisa Bevere a few years ago, the story of the woman at the well was retold with more cultural context and with the lens of a loving, compassionate Savior.

Let’s dig into more of this story, exposing the traditional lens of shame it is recounted in, with a lens of love – and see what more important truths we can glean.

I’ve often thought it interesting that many teachers highlight that she was a Samaritan, without going into too much of what that would have meant to Jesus and his followers.

In the biblical setting, Samaria, also known as Palestine, and Israel were basically in a race war. The territory of Samaria is found in land allotted to the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim when the Israelites conquered the Promised Land (Joshua 16 &17). Samaria was the capital of Israel when the country split. 

The biggest issue evident in Jesus’ time in this century old conflict was they practiced their faith differently. Samaritans even went as far as to create their own version of the five books of Moses.

Israel, being way more judgey than they should be, looked down on the Samaritans for their overt mixing of Jewish practices and pagan, settling non-Jewish practicing people in their land and claiming that Mount Gerizim should be the home of The Temple instead of Jerusalem.

Unresolved conflict and removing love from interactions had caused generations to hate, literally HATE each other. The fact that Jesus marches directly into this region brings the utter surprise of the disciples into context and begs so many more questions of the later parable of the Good Samaritan. 

Different faith. Different culture. Different skin color. 

Shame. Shame. Shame.

The term “adulteress” frequently visits the retelling of this story from our modern-day pulpits. Why would this woman have had 5 husbands, the most recent she was living with but had not married?

In the first century Samarian culture a woman was unable to initiate divorce from her husband, since they practiced a version of Judaism. The insinuation that she was an adulteress woman is very likely far from true.

Laying down those lenses of condemnation and picking up the lens of Love, we can explore a few other possibilities that showcase Jesus’ heart in meeting this woman in an even greater way. 

First, she could have been widowed.

Since a woman’s worth in that time and place was only determined by who she was married to, can you close your eyes and imagine what that grief and fear would have been like to lose not only your husband, but your position in the village, the security of food and shelter, the very home you had established…four times over?!

Can you open your heart to the fear of being handed off again and again to the “next in line”, likely without your consent, the stigma of death following you everywhere you go in your village? 

Another possibility is that she was divorced or cast away by her husbands.

Causes for divorce in this time and culture could have been a physical defect, infertility, incurable physical or mental illness. When your only job in society is to marry, please your husband, care for your household and raise as many children as you can produce, I can not even begin to fathom the shame this situation would have produced in her heart. 

Some scholars have speculated this immense burden of shame is why she was at the well gathering her daily water in the middle of the day, when no one else was around. At the high heat of the day she wouldn’t have to worry about hearing all the hushed whispers or comments. She could just be alone. 

No good. Unworthy of love. Cast off. 

Shame. Shame. Shame. 

One undeniable aspect of this story is that Jesus was speaking to a woman. This part always makes me cry. Even now, as I write this I’m crying.

Growing up, as this woman did, in a culture where women were second rate citizens has immense impact on one’s heart and mind.

Knowing no matter what, your life is second thought. Your life is a negotiation chip of interests and property. The knowledge of how powerless you are to initiate change infuses every choice, every day. 

It is from this place of utter hopelessness, that the unfathomable beauty of the heart of our Father shines. It shows His heart to see each woman, just as He sees each man, different, yet equal.

Both powerful, with different strengths. 

I don’t believe for a moment that Jesus got a word of knowledge about how many husbands she had to provoke shame in her. He wasn’t trying to keep her in her place or remind her of her status. There was no desire to pour salt in the wounds of her broken heart.

He had no desire to see her turn red and hang her head. That is not how He operates. That is the voice of the Accuser of the Brethren.

I believe Jesus spoke the word of knowledge to her to let her know that even though she was a woman, from a conflicting racial heritage and her marital record was rough, He was speaking to her. Jesus saw her, knew her and wanted connection to her heart.

What happens next in the longest recorded dialogue between someone and Jesus in the New Testament blows me away. Jesus and this woman embark in a lengthy theological discussion! This would have been unheard of in their time.

Yet, this woman holds her own. She knows what her faith culture believes as well as Jesus’. In a day and age when women were separated from men in the temples, she knew her Scripture! 

In the progression of this theological debate, John 4:26, Jesus reveals Himself as the Messiah to this woman. Jesus’ profound compassion on her and His gently delivered prophetic word bring about transformational belief. She knew in her heart that what this man spoke, that the love and gentleness, the equality and patience He showed her set Him apart from any other rabbi.

She knew He was the Messiah. 

The woman is then catapulted by Love into the role of the first missionary we see in Scripture. No fancy schooling. No big ceremony.

Jesus trusted this woman to proclaim Him. She delivered a simple Gospel, “He saw me. Messiah has come.” 

Many in the town believed because of her testimony which exemplifies her as an apostle…all this before Jesus’ death and resurrection. He had yet to even reveal who He was to His 12 Disciples and only one of them actually figured it out (Matthew 16). 

The invitation of this story is not only to watch Jesus wipe out shame from a life but to watch Him rewrite the narrative. Shame is really great at telling us who we aren’t. Jesus is really, really incredible at reminding us who we are in Him.

We lose so much when we stop a story, just like we would lose so much if we stopped at the death of Jesus and never followed the story of His Resurrection, Ascension, Pentecost, etc. Continuing what we know of the story of this incredible mother of the faith is vital to grasping the glorious story of redemption and restoration.

So who did this famous “woman at the well” become?

Early church historians tell us she followed Jesus’ ministry through His death and resurrection and was one of those 3,000 baptized at Pentecost, along with 5 of her sisters and two sons. It was at this momentous occasion that she received the name Photini.

Photini was known for the boldness that she preached and eventually it gave her the opportunity to share the Gospel with the dreaded emperor Nero in Rome. After sharing the Gospel, Nero tried to severely torture her, hoping she would turn from Christ, but instead Photini succeeds in sharing the Gospel with Nero’s own daughter who choses to become a follower of Jesus. 

Nero ordered Photini to death by fire, which she survived for 7 days, then to death by poison, which she also survived. Her faith was supernatural. Her determination was evident. How can one meet Jesus face-to-face then deny Him existence?

Photini had been captivated by a Love stronger than life. She is revered as a martyr and in the eastern Church she is “equal-to-the-apostles”. 

Where does shame live in this story now?

So many times we let shame tell our story. Something terrible happens and we let that write the narrative of our life. We push back on invitations of healing or cover up the needs of our heart in the searing aloneness of the noonday sun.

Handing our power over to the loudest ridicule, we let the cycle of lies about us tell the story in our mind and weave madness about us in the minds of others.

Your race, faith, gender, marital status, don’t get to hold your value. Jesus does.

The Lover of your soul who sees it all and speaks to you. The Living Water who gave this woman a ravenous hope is not limited to one redemptive story.

Photini says in John 4:15 “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” I like to imagine her saying this, “Jesus, make it stop hurting. Nourish my heart and soul. Give me life. I don’t want to strive for existence anymore. I don’t want shame to write my story.” 

A hallmark of shame running the show is running and hiding. Adam and Eve did it in Eden (Genesis 3) and Jesus invites us into this incredible shame free life in John 4:24 “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The greek word for truth in this verse is alētheia and can be appropriately translated naked or transparent truth.

You can’t give true worship with a naked, transparent heart if you are wearing the dress of shame. 

Shame doesn’t get to write your story, my friend. Jesus died for that shame and in the words of Graham Cooke, “Quit taking that back for yourself. (Jesus) wants that back.” 

Be free, indeed.

SOURCES:

Without Rival by Lisa Bevere

History of Samaria

Women’s Ordination Online – The Samaritan Woman At The Well

Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese

The Good Shepherd – St. Photini and her Almost-Forgotten Apostolic Family


Shannon is an incredible friend and wealth of wisdom. She is about to graduate ministry school, and is a powerhouse momma to four boys! You can find her here on Instagram!