This post wraps up our Feminology series on being a soft woman. While our Creator God has formed men and women in distinct ways, our world is ‘die-hard’ in its attempts to redefine men and women. Those are the ’hard facts’ that this series wants to address. As a Christian, do you feel like you’re between a ‘rock and a hard place’ as you embrace Biblical womanhood? It may be challenging in our world today, but, unless we are soft to God’s word, we will be ‘hard-pressed’ to find a better way of enjoying relationships with others, including God.
Being a soft woman in a hard world isn’t easy. In addition to the familiar phrases I used in the intro of this blog post, there are countless more to describe hard things in life. It’s a hard-knock life. He’s tough as nails. That’s a hard act to follow. A hard-luck story. Hardness is part of everyday life, especially when we consider the effects of sin on our world. Natural disasters, infidelity, poverty: these are just three hard things that result from Adam and Eve’s sin.
How can we deal with the hardness of our own hearts?
How can we respond to the hardness of the world?
We are told that women are to be as tough as men, or tougher, so we harden up by adopting masculine traits or clothing. Nowhere was this more obvious than when Hillary Clinton ran for president and made the “pantsuit” the fashion statement of the Hard Woman. Now, it’s easy to solve the problem by, say, wearing more dresses or “acting like a girl”, and, while this can be a start, this does not necessarily solve the heart problem. What makes you, what makes me, want to be hard? We need to go to the Lord in prayer and ask Him what our motivations are when we see hardness in us.
What if we take the opposite approach and think that showing raw emotions is the solution to a hard heart? I mean, really showing our emotions. Sometimes in an attempt to live in the opposite way we can go to an extreme. So, in an effort to be soft instead of hard, we may think we need to be a highly emotional woman or a hot mess. Social media and reality TV loooooooves this kind of woman. She makes for great ratings because she’s like a trainwreck that no one can look away from. Run-away emotions, however, do not equal softness. Rather, it is a lack of control, a sign of self-centeredness, and this too is ultimately hardness.
Our world is full of victims. When offended, when overlooked, the answer is to hold a grudge, assume the worst in other people, and wallow in self-pity. Many victims appear as soft and compassionate to other victims, but the underlying motive again is selfishness and pride. Among Christians–in our families, with our friends, in the church and beyond–we must not play victim. This is hardness. A soft response is to overlook a multitude of sins with love, to think the best of others, to pursue forgiveness and reconciliation, and to lay down our lives for one another. When a wrong has been committed, using the proper channels is the soft approach–praying and trusting God, caring for those in need, getting proper help, and even seeking the police if the situation warrants it.
God always provides a way of escape from temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13), so when the world–or our own hearts–tempts us to choose hardness, trust that God has already provided softness instead. Choose to be a soft woman in a hard world. Consider ways you are hardened and ask God to soften you. Perhaps praying from Ezekiel 36 is a good way to begin…
Dear Heavenly Father,
Will you sprinkle clean water on me so l may be clean? Will you cleanse me from all filthiness and from all my idols? Please give me a new heart and put a new spirit within me. Remove the heart of stone from my flesh and give me a heart of flesh. Put Your Spirit within me and bring it about that I will walk in Your statutes, and be careful and follow Your ordinances. (from Ezekiel 36:25-27)