The 8th of March, Women’s Day… Growing up in Russia, this day every year meant that the boys in my class would treat and honor all the girls with small gifts, just to say that they appreciate us. On Men’s Day two weeks prior, we would give gifts to the boys and thank them (as well as our brothers, fathers, grandfathers and uncles) for being our protectors, defenders, the ones who take care of us. We would hold up the masculinity and courage that they brought into our lives. Then, on Women’s Day, the boys would compliment our femininity and thank us for bringing beauty, tenderness and nurture into their lives. What a wonderful go-around of mutual encouragement it was.
As an adult, I have often reflected on the beauty of this tradition – though in the true sense of the
word, the boys were not that courageous or masculine yet, and though the girls were not truly
nurturing, beautiful or feminine yet, the ideal was treasured and held up before us year after year, so that we would enter into young adulthood embracing it and living it out. Men aspired to be strong and courageous, and women aspired to be caring and beautiful.
Today, as I treasure these memories, I cannot help but notice how both of these holidays have sadly changed over the years. While Women’s Day is now celebrated around the globe, it comes with words like “power”, “empowerment”, “achievement”, “success” … And by many standards, I could be called by some a Women’s Day “empowered” poster child: a PhD in cognitive psychology and a University of Oxford graduate, a successful independent consultant to governments and international organizations, a woman who has travelled to nearly 35 countries and bravely moved to live in a new part of the world five times… Yet, though these are blessings to God’s glory, and though this can be a woman’s journey, this is not what it means to be a woman. A woman is not made by her achievements, success or power. A woman is made by the inner disposition of her heart… In fact, with a hush of reverence, I read that there is a kind of woman that is precious – very precious – in God’s sight…
1 Peter 3:4-5, “…let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
Unlike what the world broadcasts so loudly around us, the woman who is very beautiful in God’s sight is one who adorns (decorates) herself with “a gentle and quiet spirit” – like the quiet spirit of a mother nursing a baby or the gentle touch of a sister in Christ comforting her grieving friend... The passage goes on to praise women who are: holy, hoping in God, submitting to their husbands, doing what is right and not fearing anything that is frightening.
Now this is what makes a woman! Proverbs 31 calls this kind of woman virtuous… She is generous, wise, industrious… Though she is a “businesswoman”, she is not after her own empowerment or vain pride, but through the work of her hands, she serves her husband, her children, her whole household and those who are poor and in need in her community. In the world, the message stops with success, power or achievement. But for men and women alike, the Lord is after a pure, holy heart…
So yes, let us be courageous women, intelligent women, women the work of whose hands prospers… But in Christ, let our strength be adorned with gentleness, our courage be perfumed with wisdom and humility, and our crowning achievement be servant-hearted love for our husbands, children, neighbors and those in need. On this 8th of March and every day, let us not learn what it means to be women from the world – rather, let us seek to be women whose spirits are very precious in the sight of the Lord.
By Anna Ermakova
events coming up:
Easter Sunday Service
Amazing turnout at our Easter Sunday Service!
Friday, April 10, 2020
7:00 PM 8:30 PM