Seeing as though Friday the 9 th of August is women’s day, I decided it apt to give my attention to the topic of women in this column.
Over the past 25 years I have had the privilege of encountering amazing women. Being a hairstylist many women sit in my chair everyday, each one unique, interesting and individual. Working in the beauty trade has really opened up my eyes to the immense pressure we are under as women to conform to what the world considers beautiful. This pressure does not escape us as Christian women today. There is much merit in looking after our health and our bodies, the Bible does instruct us to care for our “temples”. More and more though I have noticed women becoming consumed with trying to live up to the pressure placed upon them by media, friends and the idea that only a specific look is what is acceptable. We have all fallen into this trap at one time or another. This has caused us to make idols of things in our lives. We start worshiping “other gods”, our husbands, children, clothes, our homes, the list goes on and on and before we know it our focus on what is important has been shifted. I believe it’s time to take stock of our lives as women and come back to that which really counts. To kill the death that comparison brings and love again who we are as individuals.
We read this story of Jacob and sisters Rachel and Leah in the bible in the book of Genesis. Jacob is clearly very in love with Rachel, it says that she was “beautiful and well-favored” but Rachel cannot give him children. Leah on the other hand is so in love with Jacob, but he does not seem to be in love with her. Leah was uncomely when compared to Rachel’s beauty. The unattractive Leah might have repelled others, but God was attracted toward her because of an inner beauty which the lovely Rachel lacked. The Lord opens Leah womb and she bares six of Jacob’s sons, including his first four (Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah), and later two more (Issachar and Zebulun), and a daughter (Dinah).
These six sons were to become the representatives of six of the twelve tribes of Israel. The names Leah chose revealed her piety and sense of obligation to the Lord. After the birth of her first three sons she says “surely Jacob will love me now”. After the fourth son Judah, Lea has a revelation I believe. Her focus shifts and she sees the incredible blessings and the favour of God on her. She realizes that she has made an idol out of Jacob and now she simply says “Now I will praise the Lord.” Then Leah stopped having children. (Genesis 29:35 ERV) . How precious this moment must have been. This was the son through whose line the Saviour would come.
I loved this story and even though later Leah after her last child still hopes that Jacob will now accept her, it is said with a sense of resolve, even though he doesn’t, her love is unending and her devotion to God remains unwavering.
Abraham Kuyper said this “There are two kinds of beauty; there is a beauty which God gives at birth, and which withers as a flower. And there is a beauty which God grants when by His grace men are born again. That kind of beauty never vanishes but blooms eternally.”
We need to know that God really does not look upon the outward appearance, but upon the heart. This is not a cliche but a deep truth that needs to set us as women free to be who he has called us to be. To embrace our looks, our builds, our colour and cultures and revel in the knowledge that we are the work of an artist. There’s a glow about a Godly woman, as the beauty of Christ just radiates from her life!
My faith tells me that God knows and loves us and has a plan for each of us. And I don’t believe that plan is of a lower standard according to where in the world you happen to be born or live. If you were born in New York or the slums of India, Cairo or the Monte Carlo, one thing is certain – You are fearfully and wonderfully made by the maker of the heavens and the earth. With this knowledge lets embrace who we are and shout out as Leah did, “now I will praise The Lord “