[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s the season of chocolates and heart-shaped everything … and loneliness and ache and isolation and the nagging question that plagues us in this fallen world: “Am I loved?”
God loves you. His love for you is rooted in creation and redemption. Hold on…I know you don’t want to hear trite clichés. But sister, bear with me for a few minutes.
He crafted woman in secret. We know about man being formed from the dirt (Genesis 2:7), but woman was made from flesh (where’d it come from?) and Adam’s side (Genesis 2:21). God lavished woman’s creation with His sole concentration, but with an added sense of mystery. If humanity is music, then from the start, we were a riff with distinct notes singing the likeness of God.
When God made us, He clapped his hands, delighted. Don’t forget that when you are inundated with ads about Botox, the latest miracle make-up, or celebrity-endorsed diets. Discontent is a diabolical tool. Your body is a temple, worthy of attention and care. Society offers only outer overhauls that leave the outside glossy and the inside lacking. Temples are special because of whom they represent and who inhabits them.
Before we were created, God declared that something in His world was not good. Adam was alone. God declared that He would create a companion who was suitable to him, who corresponds to him. An ezer kenegdo, in Hebrew. Women were created to share the blessings and responsibilities that God had bestowed on both of His image-bearers. Man cannot live right without woman, and vice versa. A woman’s perspective, gifts, and being–not just her acquiescence–are vital. Woman is an ezer to man as God is an ezer to mankind (yes, this term is used to talk about God Himself; a source of strength and help, a warrior, a guide).
God declared this, and made you. You are uniquely gifted. You are priceless. You are beautiful. I pray that this echoes in your heart during those barren times while you’re folding endless piles of underwear, or cooking for one, again, or contemplating your significance at a dead-end job. God claps his hands over you even in this fallen, fallen world.
There’s been a war on women since Eden. Before the Fall–before the Fall–we were targeted by Satan as his enemy. When he wanted to deal a death-blow to humanity, he bypassed Adam and sidled his way toward us, asking us what was true.
“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
He is still at it, sisters.
Asking us what God really said about issues that have death or life hanging in the balance:
The serpent still makes war with us, trying to poke serpentine holes into the truth. But we are created to be warriors. We wield an effective sword, the Word of God. We can show that old serpent the bottom of our well-heeled shoes. We can learn from Eve’s mistake, to run to God in repentance and forgiveness. He washes our feet when we step in it.
Remember what is true. We are not eternally branded as harbingers of the Fall. We are not less-than. We have a Savior. We are co-heirs with Christ. We are valued. We are saved, wholly, by Christ’s work on the cross.
Lest we believe we are too ill-equipped, too lowly, too shamed to represent what is true, remember: We have the Holy Spirit. He gives gifts liberally. His presence is proof of Jesus’ love for us–and His love is exquisite.
Jesus never demeaned a woman who sought after God. Never called her damaged goods. Never condescended to her. Never reminded her that, well, Eve accepted the forbidden fruit, so…Instead, He listened, challenged, forgave, invited, taught, received, and loved. Sisters, Jesus’ love is the unmarred, perfect representation of God.
We are loved.
We are chosen.
The love of God created and redeems us. The love of God was vindication for Moses’ Cushite wife. A thin, red line of reward that rescued Rahab and her family. A canopy of wisdom for Deborah. A garment covering Ruth’s desperation. A son and prophet and rest for Hannah. Courage for Esther. Faith and awesome honor for Mary. Healing from bleeding and from death for a bold woman and a little girl. A seat at the rabbi’s feet for Mary of Bethany. A teaching ministry for Priscilla.
No heart-shaped boxes in these women’s stories rife with conflict, injustice, sickness, hardship, and danger. Not a frill or a pink-hued pillow or chocolate truffle in sight. Instead, we have a vast cloud of witnesses to God’s love in the face of the serpent’s doubts and obstacles. Love that is mysterious and unique. Love that is strong.
You are loved.
Sharifa Stevens is a wife and mother, singer, and writer. She earned a B.A. from Columbia University and a Master of Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. She lives in Dallas.