The struggle is as ancient as the Fall: the need of woman to be viewed first and foremost as a person. The solution from a fallen world has been to classify her in roles that designate her perceived value and in functions that define her limit and scope of interactions.
For the female heart that suffers in such a manner, the answer is in the Source, the Ancient of Days. There is no other place than looking upward to the Lord God for one’s identity to be restored and becoming a whole woman.
Becoming takes time. For the one who looks to Him, it’s as though the Lord places this beloved half of His heart very near His own full one, personally instructing and leading the way – sometimes accompanied with or attended to by others – into a healing and healed heart. He joins back together what humanity has for eons put asunder. Becoming is worth the time it takes.
Meanwhile, for many an ishshah whose heart longs to be in Christian community, there are some all too familiar scenarios. Where options are few, woman has often leaned in to acclimate or struck out in search of freedom from the restraints. As a result, the Body of Christ as Elohiym intended has suffered.
Leaning in to acclimate has led to viewing oneself through the eyes of those in the church who promote, either overtly or unwittingly, woman’s place – in which she is allowed what is assigned. Commonly, scores are kept, report cards compiled. How well and religiously correct woman performs her ‘Christian duties’ helps determine whether she is graduated to a more visible level of service; tucked away in the kitchen or the nursery; or worse – ignored as much as possible. It’s that last one that strikes deeply at her personhood.
When not embraced first as a person to operate in her God-given gifting and calling, the vision (revelation) of the Lord in that place is subdued and people are found perishing (unrestrained).
[from Proverbs 29:18 w/Strong’s notations]
Blessing will come to her and to the people if her gifting and calling is indeed providing hospitality and good food to the Body of Christ or nurturing with a mother’s heart the babes in the nursery.
What blessing of fulfilled vision may come to her and to the people if her gifting and calling is that of an apostle, prophet(ess), evangelist, or pastor and teacher?
The word some in the Greek in the following Ephesians passage denotes and includes masculine, feminine, and neuter.
11And He gave (Gr. to give) some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:11-13 NASB
At the discretion and unction of the Lord Himself, He gave and gives men and women as the gifts of becoming and being apostles, prophet(s/esses), evangelists, pastors and teachers.
Do you know what manner of gift you are? Perhaps you are not of the above; nevertheless, there is a place for which the Lord has fashioned you. Only He and not man can fully reveal and bring you into it.
Sometimes an ishshah chooses to strike out in search of freedom from the restraints. When driven by her fleshly reactions, frustration or willful independence apart from the direct leading of the Lord, she unwittingly distances herself from the God-given strength of who she was fashioned to be. Though it may be difficult to perceive, it is the same spirit driving, in an opposite manifestation, the assigning of woman’s place. If the Enemy prevents her from finding her way back to the true Source, her misguided search accomplishes his objective.
When institutionalized religion and humanity at large (both men and women) have done a fine job of putting asunder what was originally intact before the Fall, to what place does woman have to flee?
There are many: the arms of men; the draw of other women; the halls of academia; the world of fantasy; the vicarious living of life; the coveting of one’s own self; the proving ground of one’s worth…
When it comes down to it though, there is no place one can flee from the Spirit of the Lord or from His presence. Psalm 139:7
Prior to the Fall in the Garden, man and woman freely enjoyed the Presence of the Lord God. They knew what it was to dwell in harmonic companionship, with each other and with Elohiym.
Woman was an equal partner in Elohiym’s divine order – bearing the specific design for which He fashioned (literally built) her. When He brought her to the man, the man recognized and stated of her, “this is the other [on this side] selfsame substance and freshness of flesh” (Heb.) as him.
And the man said, This now at last is bone from my bones,
and flesh from my flesh.
For this shall be called Woman, because this has been taken out of man.
Genesis 2:23 LITV
Taken from out of him, she was the completing half – the female counterpart of the male; the mirror image possessing the necessary uniqueness to balance the other beloved half of Elohiym’s heart. Without each other, they would limp. Together, they stood tall and unashamed, of one flesh.
Sadly, by reason of the Fall, woman became bent toward the man with whom she once freely stood.
He [the Lord God] said to the woman, I will greatly increase your sorrow and your conception; you shall bear sons in sorrow, and your desire shall be toward your husband; and he shall rule over you.
Genesis 3:16 LITV (emphasis mine)
This once-good gift of standing tall before the Lord with her male counterpart was now perverted (distorted, misrepresented, altered, spoiled, led astray) because of sin. The first ishshah’s loss triggered woman’s search to become and need to be viewed as a person created in Elohiym’s image.
Bent as she is, woman’s identity cannot be fulfilled outside of becoming one with Christ alone.
Certainly not in futile attempts to find her identity in a man, humanity, or religion. She may find for herself a group that seems to fit her now distorted beliefs. All it can ever be, though, is an idol – no matter how much self-satisfaction or acclaim it may bring.
Since the Fall, the Lord God has been calling woman in her bentness to straighten back up into a vertical, listening relationship with Him – wherein she is given enabling grace to receive from and respond to Him in love and obedience.
By choosing to maintain a bearing of desire now turned up toward the Lord, what was bent begins to straighten and come into alignment. However slow or imperceptible it may be, desire to trust the Lord in the face of everything untrustworthy moves the hand of God. Becoming is occurring.
We at Ishshah’s Story are well-acquainted with woman’s struggle to become. In whatever woman’s place you identify with, wherever it is ‘less than’ or still wounded and unhealed – our heart is that you would know the healing, wholeness, and fulfillment that is only found in and through relationship with the Person of Christ – your Healer and the one true Source of everything that is ishshah.