Today is the first day of spring, and here at Grove City we believe that. We really, really believe that. On Thursday I wore shorts (!!!) and Liesel and Jackie and I took obligatory pictures with the statue of J Howard Pew. On Friday, I wore a dress, had Renaissance Lit in the (dry) fountain in the courtyard, and received an ecstatic voicemail from Laura saying we needed to take a walk. So we did. Barefoot. We love sun here. Anytime it is out, the boys take off their shirts for their frisbee games, and the girls sunbathe in the inner quad. It is essential to absorb every drop through every pore, and save for a rainy day. Really.
And now for something completely different. The fact is, though Grove City has been wonderful for me in many ways, I have one particular weakness which it continues to exacerbate. That is, as curious as it may sound, my womanhood. Suffice to say, the other day I read Genesis 3:16 with painfully open eyes. “To the woman He said: ‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.'” That curse explains a lot of things. Not to you, the reader, probably, but to me, as me. In any case there are a lot of things wrong with me. As I’ve said to a few friends recently, I’m pretty screwed up.
Here is what I don’t want: I don’t want to believe that filling the culture’s expectations, and being bright and cute and well-dressed and size two is enough, or even worth anything. I also don’t want to buy into the image being peddled by much of the Christian community. Last week there was a “women only” chapel on campus about balancing career and family. I didn’t go myself, but now I wish I had, so I could form my own opinion. There was an editorial about it in The Collegian, and this woman, Candice Watters, is quoted as saying “just settle–settle down with the first godly man you meet who wants to have babies with you.” My friend Laura told me she also mocked women who go to graduate school as only doing so because they don’t have a ring on their finger, and advised everyone to give hope of a guy who’s a ten, and just settle for an eight. Her point was obvious: Stay barefoot and in the kitchen–anything else is compensation for your failure to catch a man. I cannot express how angry this makes me. This is absolutely the last thing Grove City girls need to hear. We already have ring by spring, engagement posters galore, and an unhealthy obsession with babies. Our babies. The ones that won’t be born for years. It’s frightening if I think about it. “Your desire shall be for your husband, and [that desire] shall rule over you.”
I want none of that. None. But I don’t know what it is I do want. I want to know God’s current purpose for my femininity. I read Proverbs 31 the other day, and all I got out of it was that that lady was super busy. I can’t dye cloth, I don’t have money to buy land, and I certainly don’t have children to call me blessed. I’m just not at that place in my life yet. What does radical, countercultural womanhood look like for an eighteen-year-old lover of dresses and books and nutella? (When I google it, all I find are blogs that want me to buy books that bash physical beauty, then give you no solutions.) How can I love others not only as myself, but as a woman? How can I love Jesus as a woman? He made me a girl, now what does He want me to do with it? In the Bible, godly women were either saving their people or, in the case of Ruth, finding a husband! Again, not what I’m being called to right now. (Besides, I think Ruth was the exception–in most cases he finds you.) In any case, I don’t know where to look for answers. What did God intend when he created women? Our role is to support men, but there must be more to it than that. In Perelandra, Ransom tells the King and Queen, “I have never before seen a man or a woman. I have lived all my life among shadows and broken images.”
I am at a loss. All I know is that my version of womanhood is wrong and desperately needs redemption. The Deceiver has twisted and marred God’s creation till we cease to recognize ourselves. Yet there is a promise in Romans 16:20, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” Pray for me. Pray for answers. I don’t know where to turn.