A few months ago, I went on a second date with a guy who called me “cool.” We sat in the dim lighting of a local restaurant and he said, “You’re the kind of girl my friends would love. You’re a pretty cool chick.” I smiled and laughed; after all, it was a compliment. Yet, I couldn’t help but mull this compliment over and I found myself obsessively dissecting it in my brain.
Since becoming a Christian, I’ve often found myself struggling with my identity. “Sure, I’m cutting away at sin in my life, but am I biblical?” I ask. “Do I have a good reputation in my church family? Am I perceived as Godly?”
In the world of evangelical Christianity, there is usually a mold. There is a prescription for what it means to be a woman in the church outlined in the biblical womanhood podcasts and Proverb 31 bible study workbooks.
In many ways, I fit it. I’d consider myself to have very traditional values and interests. I love baking, I throw down in the kitchen, I arrange flowers, I lead bible studies and run bake sales, and even though I value my career and my college education, I could never imagine putting my professional goals above a husband or children.
But in many ways, I’m an outcast from stereotypical biblical womanhood.
I have a nose ring. I’m designing a tattoo that I want to get along the spine of my back. (It’s Psalm 23 in Hebrew letters, if that makes a difference.) I drink gin neat and like going to Indie rock clubs on weekends and have a snarky sense of humor. My lips are usually colored red.
With these traits, am I still in the running for a Proverbs 31 medal? Could I make it into the biblical womanhood Hall of Fame for the fruits of the spirit that I sow in my life, or will those other traits disqualify me even though they aren’t anything to repent over?
Christianity can seem like a very restrictive, homogeneous culture, one in which we all have to speak in the exact same way, dress in the exact same way, and have the same cookie cutter hobbies. It can feel like you’ll be shunned as an outcast if you fall outside the typical mold and this is one of the main ways Christian women end up feeling hurt by their church family.
I once read about one such woman. An artist by profession, she was known for her funky, creative style. One Sunday after church, a woman approached her and “warned her” that her style was immodest, even though it wasn’t overly revealing.
There are still times when I’m made to feel ashamed of the ways I don’t fit neatly into an evangelical box. I’ve been told to my face that I’m too bubbly and talkative and need to tone it down a little. I’ve read tweets on social media that judge women for their makeup choices and make me feel like the fact that I love red lipstick is wrong. I’ve been made to feel like a good Christian girl would never be seen at an Indie rock concert, even when it’s vulgarity-free.
Even to this day, I still sometimes feel uneasy about whether I fit into the mold. However, I’ve come to realize that I don’t have to nor should I want to. God stitched every single one of us together and made us unique. He gave each of us inherent worth and value along with distinct personalities, dreams, passions, and tastes.
I don’t fit the mold because God didn’t use one.
We are not all mass produced copies, nor are we meant to be, and I rise above the voices of those who say otherwise.
I was uniquely created by a God who said, “Oh, that’s good,” after He stitched me together.
There is no mold for biblical womanhood. There never was.