Sunday, August 21, 2011

It's Bigger Than Breasts

I gotcha with that title, didn't I? Some of you clicked on this link just because you saw the word breasts and you were curious about where I was going with this one. Well good, I'm glad I have your attention.

I saw one of the dumbest things I've ever seen today in downtown Asheville, and my initial anger turned to sadness and pitty as I realized what was really going on. A group of women decided to stage a protest this afternoon in the middle of downtown - topless. That's right, you heard me correctly. They were topless - as in no shirts, breasts exposed, nude from the waist up. What on earth were they protesting you ask? They were demanding the right to be topless in public. They are tired of the double standard that allows men to walk the streets with their chests uncovered while women are forced to cover up. They want equality. They want the same rights men have to bare their chests.

I'm sure you're laughing as hard as I was when I first learned of this ludacricy. And I'm sure you're also thinking "only in Asheville"... But it was actually part of a national protest that was taking place in many cities all over the country. The reason we find it so humorous is because they seem to be overlooking the obvious. "Are they serious?" I asked myself as I pondered the statement they were making. "Do they really not understand the difference between a male chest and a female chest?" Why do they seem to be missing something that's incredibly obvious to most of us? The fact is, men and women's chests are different. They look different; they function differently; and they produce very different physical and emotional responses in those who view them. It didn't seem like rocket science to me, so why was it so hard for them to accept - men and women are DIFFERENT.

But this particular group of women did not want to be treated as if they were any different than men. They wanted to pretend that men and women are exactly the same, therefore leaving them no room to feel inferior or less than equal. But just because they ignore the truth, doesn't make that truth any less true. I (unlike them) understand that different doesn't mean unequal, and equal doesn't mean the same. We can be different AND equal at the same time. But this issue was actually bigger than just breasts - There was a deeper issue at play that went beyond the desire to walk around topless. Underneath these ladies' outer facade calling out for "equality" was an insecurity and a dissatisfaction that caused them to not be content with who God designed and created them to be. They claimed that they were being treated as substandard, but really they simply cannot accept and embrace the design and role that God created uniquely for them. And that's what made me sad.

I wished that these women could celebrate their differences rather than resent them. I wished that they could see the beauty in the hand-crafted design of our Creator that would cause them to glory in their uniqueness rather than wish that they were made in someone else's image. I wanted so badly to tell them that we can be equal in value while being different in appearence and even function. All we have to do is look at God Himself to see this truth illustrated. God exists in the form of the Trinity - three distinct persons equal in value, but very different in form and function. The Father, Jesus, and the Spirit all look different and perform unique roles, but I can't imagine the Holy Spirit protesting that he doesn't get to walk the streets in fleshly human form and therefore isn't being treated fairly.

There's no way around it. Women have breasts, and men don't. Women have a unique ability to feed a child with the pure milk of her own body, and men cannot. As a result, their chests look different. And because breasts have a uniquely feminine role (having to do with reproduction), they are viewed by men as desireable, pleasurable, and sexual. That is why women cover them in public. That is why they are usually reserved for the one who partners with them in the sexual and reproductive process (and their babies of course). This protest seemed as silly to me as a gorup of men protesting their right to feed their babies with their own bodies like women can, and feeling unequal because of that inability. They could protest all day long, but it wouldn't change the fact that if they tried to feed their baby on their nipple, the baby would die of starvation.

It's time for us (especially women) to start embracing the way God specifically designed our bodies, our minds, and our hearts, and realizing that they are different from men's for a reason - a divine purpose. If we would only put our whole hearts into becomming the woman God designed us to be instead of trying to become more like men, I believe we would find so much fulfillment and satisfaction. Because after all, He knows us better than we know ourselves. And He created us to fulfill a purpose that only we can. The Bible says it this way: "We are His masterpiece. He has created us in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago" (Ephesians 2:10 NLT). The word for 'masterpiece' in the original Greek language of the Bible is "poema", which is where we get our English word for poem. God's literally saying that we are His work of art. We each have a unique and wonderful role to play in this life, and I happen to love the role I play as a lover to my husband and mommy to my children. I enjoy being the steward of a man's vision and a leaver of a legacy to the next generations through my boys. That is who God designed me to be. I understand that not every woman will have the exact same roles and desires that I have, but don't be afraid to be who God uniquely made you to be without feeling inferior to someone else. Just be the best "you" that you can be, and don't wish that God had other things in mind when He knitted you together in your mother's womb.

Those of us who are in Christ sometimes struggle with a similar identity crisis. We may not mind being uniquely male and female (and I doubt any of us want to roam the streets baring our breasts), but we sometimes envy the roles and positons of other members of the Body - especially those who are more recognized and glamorous. Romans 12:4-6 reminds us that, "Just as our bodies have many parts, and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ's body. We are many parts of one body and we all belong to each other. In His grace, God has given us certain gifts for doing certain things well." The foot shouldn't want to be the hand, and the hand shouldn't want to be the eye. We should simply desire to be nothing more and nothing less than who God designed us to be. It's when we strive to be anything else, that we find ourselves beating our heads against the wall in frustration, becoming increasingly unfilfilled in our service to Christ. We become weary and burned out, eventually giving up.

For years I struggled to "find myself". I grew up never being quite sure of who I was, or who I wanted to be. I was uncomfortable in my own skin. I never had any female role models who actually loved and embraced womanhood with elegance and grace. I was taught to buck against the system that told girls to stay home raising babies, serving in charities, and cooking for their men. I was caught in the middle of an inner struggle between growing into the woman God created me to be and running in the other direction. I didn't relate well with girls, and consequently didn't have many deep friendships with females. To this day I am afraid to raise a daughter because of that long season of discomfort in my female relationships (thankfully God in His infinate wisdom gave me boys!). I was being told I shouldn't be too "girlie", but there was something deep in the fiber of my being that loved the idea of being a picture of femeninity. It wasn't until I fully surrendered my life to Christ in my early twenties that I began to let Him mold and shape my heart in His hands. He cultivated deep desires within me to be every bit of the wife, mommy, sister, daughter, and girlfriend He created me to be. He surrounded me with strong, beautiful, godly women who taught me the immense value in being such a woman. Ironically, today I lead a women's ministry and devote much of my time to teaching, mentoring, and counseling women to fit comfortably in the roles God has chosen for them. I love my ministry, and I love the women I am privileged to serve. It amazes me what God can do to our hearts when we stop looking elsewhere and start embracing and surremdering to His grand design. I am finally right where I am supoosed to be, and I've never been more satisfied in life.

It is right in the middle of His purpose that we find our deepest fulfillment in life. When you find that sweet spot right at the intersection of who God designed you to be and using your gifts to further His Kingdom - stay there.

1 comment:

  1. I Love your heart! I loved reading this!!!! Keep writing Mandi :) I can't wait to read more!