Spanks. Spiky shoes. Mercurial monthly mood swings. Living with the constant fear that the Cheetos I just scarfed would end up on my thighs. Catty competitiveness from my gal peers. I hated being a girl.
My distaste for all things feminine began at an early age. Hanging around boys was so uncomplicated. If I made Bobby mad, he hit me in the stomach. He didn’t gossip behind my back to Melvin next door. Also, I secretly suspected that there was a list somewhere of cool careers boys could pursue that were “off limits” to the weaker sex. I felt stereotyped and underestimated.
I’ve had time to reflect upon my identity crisis since my childhood days. The concept that I was “fearfully and wonderfully made by God” couldn’t be true. What gives?
First of all, I was the oldest of two daughters and I felt like a disappointment to my Dad. A brilliant, hard-driving entrepreneur, Daddy built a highly successful business from the ground up. But he had no son to succeed him. Pop never said he wished I were his “heir apparent” but my lack of enthusiasm for construction and my passion for music had to be a tough pill for him to swallow.
Secondly, I didn’t feel I was blessed in the looks department. My sister Kathy was a Barbie-doll blonde, buxom and beautiful. I resembled Midge, Barbie’s plainer, freckle-faced cohort. My mousy brown hair, buck teeth (I eventually got braces) and pudgy tummy gave me pause.
Thirdly, I was arrogant and obnoxious. Girlie hobbies and pursuits seemed boring and inane. I was smart and talented and I knew it. I wanted to talk philosophy and art with the eggheads, not moon over teen idols or fall fashions.
I didn’t grow into a healthy self-acceptance either. By the time I became a pastor’s wife and mom, I was good and mad. (I thank God for a loving understanding husband who gave me the freedom to work through my issues.) One sunny Tuesday afternoon, I attended a women’s Bible conference where Jill Briscoe, a nationally-known Bible teacher, spoke. Jill was traveling the world sharing Jesus. I wept with bitter disappointment as she talked about “making a difference for God’s Kingdom.”
My little girls were preschoolers and I spent every morning changing diapers, picking up toys and reading “Huckle the Pig” for the thirty-fourth time.
“God,” I pleaded, “will I ever be able to channel all of my passion and energy into serving You? I want to write books, conduct symphonies, preach around the world, do concert tours, etc., etc., etc.”
“Don’t make me sit in Women’s Missionary meetings, baking casseroles and planning potlucks…” I’m sure He wearied of my whining. Good gravy!
The Lord did not say “yes.” He did not say anything at all. Finally, He said, “Wait.”
One cloudy afternoon a light came on and I reached a turning point. I sat in a small group in London, England with a beautiful Christian counselor named Karen Holford. We were praying. She quietly pronounced these words over me.
“Julie,” Karen said, “God wants you to know you are His beautiful rose. He designed you perfectly to do what He has called you to do. But if you never do anything else in this life, He wouldn’t love you less. He’s so proud of you and every petal of your blossom is undiscovered potential, ready to be opened.”
Karen didn’t know me from Adam. But God did, and His words rang true to my heart for the very first time. All of those years of anger and frustration fell off like shackles. I could rest now. I was complete in Him. I loathed my pigeon-holing prejudice and God gave me a new love for the women in my life. Every single one was a flower. I just never stopped to sniff their beautiful aromas.
Now I have cherished female friends. I feel completed.
My transformation was not instantaneous. God used great tragedies and brokenness in my life to humble me and break my self-reliance. Doris, Judy and Sandy-my spiritual mothers-faithfully prayed for me and counseled me.
I know now that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made.” God also gave me my heart’s desire and a chance to pursue my dreams (or rather Hisdreams for me). My Father knows best!
“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 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.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:13-16 NIV