I have always felt like the wrong kind of woman. I thought a quiet woman was a godly woman. Actually, the church taught me that a “gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:3-4) meant a “gentle and quiet personality.”
It wasn’t until several years later that I understood this text correctly. The author refers to the inner person and encourages the spirit to find gentleness and quietness; this passage should not be used to describe a kind of personality, for it warrants no such reading. Our hearts can be gentle and quiet while our lips are bold and speak out for truth.
These two do not conflict, but in my mind, I saw two kinds of women and set them against one another. The first was the gentle, quiet, and meek woman. The other was bold, driven, and unmoved. I felt more like the latter, but I was told by others to be more like the former.
I prayed that God would make me the kind of woman I thought He wanted me to be. Apologies spilled out of my mouth when I was rebuked for speaking my opinions. I could not be this gentle and quiet personality woman if I tried with all my might. I learned to listen more and talk less, but I still found myself stuck with strong opinions and the desire to speak the truth boldly.
In some ways, God refined some of the hard and obnoxious parts of me in my quest to become a “godly woman.” What God did, more significantly, was help me understand how diversely He designed women.
“Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26)
Every man and every woman are made in God’s image and likeness. There is nothing we can do to diminish God’s image in us. Whether it is our culture or our churches, women and men alike are presented with “ideal” versions of their gender. The church, in contrast to the culture, tries to set up a “biblical” version of manhood and womanhood. Obviously, we should earnestly seek to know what the Bible says about biblical manhood and womanhood. This is a worthy task. Yet in pursuit of these ideals, we sometimes idolize personalities over personhood.
I am afraid our ideal versions of womanhood do much more than discourage those who don’t fit the mold; they tell lies about Jesus. We often make it seem as if women who do not mesh with our version of a “perfect” personality are lesser. But because there is no ideal person outside of Jesus, and because all are made equally in His image, there are no lesser women. Jesus is bold, driven, and unmoved by the world. Jesus is gentle, quiet, and meek. Jesus is the perfection of humanity. And in Jesus, women of all personalities can be counted as such, too.
I learn much from my fellow sisters who are soft-spoken and meek. They display the character of Jesus in ways which I am unable. Since we all bear God’s image, we should affirm and celebrate every kind of personality He has designed.
Jesus did not die for one gender, one country, one race, or one personality.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.” (Colossians 1:15-20)
We are all from Him and for Him, so let us look to Jesus as the Ideal One. He alone can direct our diverse kinds of womanhood to glorify God.