All you hopeless romantics out there are probably familiar with the plot-twisting scene from Bridget Jones’ Diary in which Bridget–the insecure, unlucky-in-love heroine of the film–hears something quite shocking from a man in her life, words so unusual that even her friends are stunned to hear them:
“I like you very much. Just as you are.”
Just as you are. It’s no wonder Bridget was shocked to hear these words! We live in a world where women are often judged according to what they can do or produce, not simply who they are as individuals–Have you found a man to marry you? How many children do you have? How well do you cook? Are you able to keep your house clean and well-decorated at all times? Have you scrap-booked all of your children’s milestones? How well are your kids performing in school? And can you do all these things well while maintaining a fit and trim figure to please your husband?
With air-brushed models on magazine stands and the perfect Proverbs 31 women hanging over our heads in church, Christian women also struggle with feeling like they don’t measure up. Our society has very particular standards of value and we can easily become slaves to them. As a result, it’s hard to ever feel that you are really loved, just as you are, with lasting certainty. Truly unconditional love can seem rather elusive.
As a single woman I felt this elusiveness in an especially acute way, often wondering if ANY man could ever love me just the way I am. But the wondering did not end on my wedding day. Even now, I catch myself worrying about whether I compare to the super models that my husband sees on t.v., questioning whether he’s still glad that he married me or if he sometimes feels duped.
No matter what stage of life, we will be faced with the temptation to prove ourselves or earn people’s respect on a fairly consistent basis. And for good reason–we want to be good wives, mothers, friends and daughters. Even so, the unending treadmill of people-pleasing can be exhausting, and at the end of the day it doesn’t offer a security and acceptance that lasts.
Given this production-driven value system, I was refreshed and encouraged by a quote I heard this week. It came from a commentary on Genesis 2 in which Adam first encountered Eve. Seeing her for the first time, Adam spontaneously offers a poetic pronouncement, words that scholar Derek Kidner described the following way:
“The naming of the animals, a scene which portrays man as monarch of all he surveys, poignantly reveals him as a social being, made for fellowship, not power: he will not live until he loves, giving himself away (24) to another on his own level. So the woman is presented wholly as his partner and counterpart; nothing is yet said of her as childbearer. She is valued for herself alone.”
(Derek Kidner. Genesis. Tyndale Commentary Series. InterVarsity Press, 1967. p. 65)
Isn’t that beautiful?? Adam expects nothing of her–in fact, he is only focused on his role in serving her. Her value comes not from her beauty, her ability to bear children, or any other measure of a “good Christian wife.” She is highly valued simply for who she is.
That was Eden. That was the perfect male-female relationship that God intended.
Sadly, we don’t live in that perfect garden anymore. Our world is marred by misguided cultural norms and selfish motives–all of which impose themselves on the female identity. However, this snapshot of a pure moment between the first man and woman reminds us that it wasn’t supposed to be this way. The pressures we feel to be a good Christian woman, wife and mother are not from God. These value standards are not what God intended, nor are they any reflection of your value you as a woman.
So I want to encourage you with that today. If you are longing to be loved just the way you are, or if you are constantly plagued by the feeling that you just can’t measure up in some particular area, remember that it’s not supposed to be that way. The way that our world (and sometimes the church!) values women is a sign of the Fall. It is a sign of brokenness and sin. It is NOT a sign of your worth. God created you just the way you are because He wanted you that way. Yes, God wants to redeem your life from the sin that imprisons you, but when it comes to the special ways He created you to reflect His image, He wouldn’t change a thing.