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 more of a tomboy in grade school. I loved going everywhere with my Daddy. To the hardware store. The bow-hunting shop. Archery practice. A hike in the woods. Anywhere my Daddy went, that was where I wanted to be.
Then, as I moved into Junior High, I didn’t develop all of the curves that other girls had (and I still don’t have them). I felt ugly. Unwomanly. I was teased several times for how flat-chested I was. Those words by a handful of people deeply impacted me and my perception of my femininity for a number of years. I was convinced no guy could be attracted to me – even though there eventually were quite a few who actually were. I couldn’t see it. I listened to a lot of lies about my identity and didn’t understand what femininity was about. I thought it was all about how I looked.
In high school, I grew my hair out. I looked more like a girl. But I still didn’t feel like “a real woman” in my mind. There were lots of things I didn’t like about myself. My curly, frizzy hair. My splotchy, pale skin. My bloated belly. My boyish figure. “If only I were different! Why did God make me like this?” I was insecure in my own skin. All I could see was the negative stuff I perceived about my body. 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”?
Of course, it turns out that we humans are very able to find something else to be unhappy about concerning our bodies and appearance. 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 looking in all of the wrong places for security and fulfillment. Happiness doesn’t come from having a “perfect” body by our current definition. There are plenty of people whose bodies seem perfect to us who are models and actresses who are extremely unhappy.
No surgery can fix toxic thinking.
There are women who have many plastic surgeries thinking that if only they could have a certain breast size and certain hip and waist size, they would be happy. But when they get that, then they still are not fulfilled and they think maybe a nose job or facelift would do the trick. Or maybe taking out some ribs or various other procedures will finally fill that deep void of insecurity in their souls. 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. These things are spiritual issues.
There are also women who are anorexic who weigh 70-80 lbs. but who look in the mirror and see a grotesquely fat body in their minds. They may think that liposuction would make them happy. If only they could be thin enough, they would be beautiful and people would love and accept them. No sane surgeon would be willing to do that operation for an anorexic woman. There wouldn’t be any fat to suction out, anyway. Of course, a girl who is suffering from anorexia can’t see reality that she has no body fat at all and that she is killing herself with this idol of being thin. Thinness has become her total obsession. That is what idols do, they destroy us. They blind us. We can make idols out of anything. An idol is any idea, thing, or person that we place on the throne of our lives where really only God is worthy to be. It might be a drug, wealth, beauty, marriage, children, popularity, fame, power, or any number of other things.
Idolatry always leads to anxiety, depression, fear, despair, and, ultimately, to death. (Rom. 3:23).
There are those who believe if only they could look like the opposite gender they would be happy. I can relate to that feeling and to the frustration, discouragement, and depression of not being comfortable or at home in your own gender or in your own skin. It is easy to think “the grass is much greener on the other side.” These days, we have the technology to attempt to make really drastic physical and hormonal changes to our bodies in an effort to help those who are suffering gender-related angst. But it is not a specific set of physical genitals or sex hormones that bring real purpose and contentment in life. Mutilating my healthy female body when I was a child or teenager would not have brought me contentment, peace, fulfillment, and joy. It would have only created many more problems and confusion. What I had was a spiritual problem. No physical alteration could have fixed my soul.
The real problem for me was that I didn’t really know how to be a girl or what godly femininity was about. I didn’t understand the source of my worth as a person or as a young woman. I was looking to worldly and external things for affirmation and security about my identity rather than to Jesus and His truth. I also didn’t realize that feelings are not always accurate and can’t always be trusted. Emotions are not a source of absolute truth.
Now, how THANKFUL I am that I get to be a woman! God didn’t make a mistake with me! What joy that knowledge brings! 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. 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.
Jesus is the only Source of real peace and joy.
How I long for us all to be able to embrace the wisdom of the Lord in how He made us. Even if we don’t understand it at the moment, as we dig deep into His Word and His truth about Himself and ourselves, we can find deep healing as we receive the gifts God has given to us in His wisdom and sovereignty! Now, 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. I no longer have to complain or be dissatisfied. I can accept who I am and what I am because I accept Whose I am. I love the Lord’s design for femininity and masculinity, for marriage, and for family.
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. When we try to alter God’s design for us, marriage, or anything else, we end up hurt. His design is good and healthy for us, even if we can’t grasp it at first. His design brings glory to Himself and joy to those who embrace His wisdom. May you find the excitement, joy, peace, and blessing of living in the center of God’s will for you even in areas where you may feel discontent at first. He can change our hearts, our minds, and our perspectives as we seek Him wholeheartedly. He can heal our hearts on the deepest level. Jesus is our deepest need. He alone brings abundant life to all who trust Him.
You are deeply and dearly loved, precious friend! You are created in the very image of God! All of us have fallen away from Him. All of us are desperately in need of the salvation He offers. And 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.
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
Common Idols for Women – Video
Taking Our Thoughts Captive – Video
Godly Femininity – Part 1
Godly Femininity – Part 2
Identifying Lies about God and Ourselves that Hurt Us
Walt Heyer Ministries – a man who underwent a sex change operation to look like a woman and later a reversal surgery who is now a Christian. Walt ministers with compassion to those who are hurting and searching for contentment regarding gender. Check out his story and the resources on his site.
Biblical Manhood and Womanhood Part 1 – Secret Church by David Platt (Video)
Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood – edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem