Claire works for a university chaplaincy and blogs anonymously at Claire Writes.
Let me preface this by saying I haven’t had such difficulty in writing about a topic in a long time. I’m not sure what was/is going on. It finally took me to take out a notebook and a pen and write “the old fashioned way’. What has came out is slightly testimonial…
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It is so easy as a Christian woman to shrink into the shadows and accidentally make yourself insignificant. I know because that was me almost 7 years ago.
Picture the scene - I’m 18 years old, just started university and living with 10 strangers and secretly in love with God. University is a one of a kind experience. You leave your own little bubble and the comfort of home life and suddenly you’re thrusted into a world where everyone, including yourself, is fighting to be seen and for their opinion to be heard. I was not a confident 18 year old.
I had one friend in particular back then who was incredibly overpowering and very self-righteous (in all the wrong ways). I spent a year trying to fight the lifestyle her and my other friends enjoyed, whilst not trying to come across as a ‘holy-joe’!. But I couldn’t take it much longer and, by the grace of God, I made a bold move and I walked away from the friendship. And it changed my life forever. I often look back on that version of me, the version that allowed myself to be walked over, and I wonder what would have become of me? Would I have respected myself as God truly wanted me to? Would I even have a relationship with Him?? - I think not!
So I had to partly remove myself from people of the world who wouldn’t bring me closer to God. I sought out a place I could go where people believed in God, lived their life for Him and weren’t afraid to be that way. I won’t lie and say this was an easy option for me. I spent a year completely broken, curled in a ball on my bed crying my eyes out. But the beauty of Christ is that His Saving Blood builds us back up. He created in me a stronger, God-loving heart and set me on the road to explore my true femininity, bestowed upon me because of His goodness. His healing hands rested on my soul and began a journey for me that is still continuing today.
In the early days I didn’t know what it meant to be a woman of God, but I knew I wanted to be different to other girls. I began by throwing out all my trousers and for the past six-ish years I have worn a dress every single day. I just wanted to feel feminine. I’m not saying that trousers are manly clothing, but I just needed to have this “outward sign” that I was living my life differently to others, even if it meant I was the only one who knew this.
So by finding a place on campus where I could attend mass, go to adoration and hang out with people my age who were waaaaaaaay more acquainted with God than I was, it allowed me to be comfortable with the whole ‘God thing’ so I could actually get around to furthering my relationship with him.
The past seven years have been bumpy ones. As a woman of God I struggle and I fall just like everyone else. But I have God on my side, which is out-of-this-world-amazing. I have had people think I’m crazy; family members look at me like I have two heads because I post scripture quotes on Facebook; I have been told by other Catholics that I’m not a good enough Catholic; I’ve been broken and rebuilt; I’ve been tempted; I’ve found love; I’ve lost love… but still through all of this God just showers me with His mercy and compassion, and uses me to bring the Good News to others.
After seven years, do I know what a woman of God is? Well I know what it is not - it’s not something that can be pigeon-holed into one specific definition. Being a woman of God is a very different role than that of a man’s, but also very similar. We are designed to be nurturers, care-givers; we were created to be creative; we are designed to live our lives like the women of the Bible - Jesus’ female disciples and His Blessed Mother. Today’s culture tries to mock us and lead us astray at every available opportunity, but we are much stronger than that, and we gain our strength from Him.
Don’t let the shortcomings and insecurities of the world make you lessen the woman God created you to be.
Over the years I have experienced great difficulties with being a woman of God in this the 21st Century, but I have learned that by placing myself in holy situations with people my own age I gain confidence in my ability to be a woman of God. It is so important to me to be completely open about who I am to anyone I meet.
Do not be afraid to be a woman of God, do not be made to feel small, do not suppress the beautiful, intelligent, Godly woman you were created to be!
“You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
- Marianne Williams