When I was growing up, I often felt very unfeminine. I was not a girly girl. I had short, choppy hair through most of elementary school. It looked like a boy’s cut many times. My twin sister was the more girly one. I didn’t like dresses. They were itchy and scratchy and panty hose were mandatory then. How I hated panty hose!
I was much more content in jeans and a t-shirt. I didn’t care about looking super pretty when I was younger. I would describe myself as a bit of a tomboy in grade school.
Then, as I moved into Junior High, I didn’t develop all of the curves that other girls had (I buy my bras in the little girls’ department at Wal-Mart to this day). I felt ugly. Unwomanly.
I was teased several times for how flat-chested I was by a few bullies at my school. Sadly, I allowed those words by a handful of people – who didn’t even know me well or care about me at all – to deeply impact me and my self-perception for decades. I didn’t know about rejecting messages that people told me that were not from the Lord.
I didn’t understand what femininity was about. I thought it was all about how I looked, especially this one measurement of my body where I was apparently so lacking, and the things other people said and thought about me.
In high school, I grew my hair out. I looked more like a girl, in my mind. But I still didn’t feel like “a real woman.” Now, I realize that is a pretty common thing for teenagers and plenty of adults, too – to be unhappy with various aspects of our bodies. How many of us think, “If only this particular detail about my appearance were different, THEN, I would be happy”?
The truth is, though, even if God magically changed the things I didn’t like about myself back then, I know now that I still wouldn’t have been happy. I was often looking in all of the wrong places for security and fulfillment. My body wasn’t the problem.
Happiness doesn’t come from having a “perfect” body by our culture’s current definition. There are plenty of people whose bodies seem perfect to us who are extremely unhappy.
There are those who have had dozens of surgeries to try to look “perfect” who continue to be miserable. It is not anything about our physical bodies that brings genuine fulfillment, peace, and joy.
Mutilating my healthy female body when I was a child or teenager would not have brought me true femininity, contentment, peace, fulfillment, and joy. Gender surgery or hormones to make me look more like a boy would have only created many more problems and incredible confusion. If I tried to be something I was not, that would not have fixed anything. It would have only created a lot more anxiety. Or, if I had surgical implants to make me more “acceptable-looking” as a woman, that would also not have brought me peace.
Plastic surgery can be a wonderful thing, especially for those who have been disfigured. It has its place. But surgery is not generally a helpful treatment when the real issue is toxic thinking.
The problem for me was that I didn’t really know what godly femininity was about. I didn’t understand the source of my worth as a person or as a young woman.
I know now that femininity is a priceless and precious gift. So is masculinity. God bestows each of these gifts to each off us according to His wisdom, love, and sovereignty. He did not make a mistake! Now I can rejoice and rest in this gift of femininity and explore all of the blessings God has for me here. I don’t have to fight it. I don’t have to hate it. I don’t have to try to change it. All of my angst is gone. I am filled every day with His amazing peace that passes understanding. I long for everyone to get to experience Him like this!
I thank and praise God for my femininity. I feel feminine. I feel beautiful on a soul level because I know how deeply loved I am by the Lord. I am grateful for my body – content and joyful, even. My goal is to be a good steward of this gift of my body. I no longer complain. I can accept who I am and what I am because I accept Whose I am.
The real purpose of God in creating us male and female and in designing marriage to be between one man and one woman can be found in Ephesians 5:22-33. His goal is that marriage, masculinity, and femininity portray the gospel of Christ to the world.
You are deeply and dearly loved by the Lord, precious friend! You are created in the very image of God! Thankfully, none of us are beyond the reach of Jesus and what He did for us on the cross. Receive His incredible gift of love to You today and begin to experience the wholeness He offers to you. I’m here if you want to talk or share things the Lord has shown you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts,a] God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:13-18, 23-24
Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood – edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem