Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Wife Rule #77: What it Means to Be a Woman

Now how on earth would I know what it means to be a woman?

There was that one episode in high school where my friend Liz pestered me relentlessly until I tried on a prom dress (over my Man clothes), but that's a walk down memory lane I'd rather not take. So instead, I'll tell you what my wife's womanhood means to me.

I subscribe to the scriptural interpretation that there is deliberate symbolism implied when the Bible says that God made Eve from one of Adam's ribs (see Genesis 2:22). God did not make Eve from Adam's toe, as a subordinate, nor did He make Eve from Adam's head, as a superior. He took her directly from Adam's side, near his heart, where she was meant to remain: a co-equal, a help meet for Adam, just as he is a help meet for Eve.

Both Adam and Eve were to fulfill essential, complementary roles in each other's lives; roles that neither had the capability of fulfilling themselves. And more importantly, they were to combine together synergistically to fulfill roles that neither could accomplish alone. By becoming "one flesh" and acting together in a truly unified way, they accomplished what they could never do otherwise. That "the whole is greater than the sum of the parts" is no where better illustrated than by observing the perpetuation of life that Adam and Eve--and billions of husbands and wives since--have accomplished together, with God's help.

This isn't to say that Adam and Eve were not both amazing individuals too. I have no doubt that our first parents were incredible: in intelligence, in talent, in capacity, in knowledge, in righteousness, and in beauty of person and spirit.

Uniting together--really uniting, in the sense of subordinating one's own will to the cause of the union--in no way diminishes either a husband or a wife. On the contrary, as each partner gives everything to the other, each is mutually magnified both by giving, and by the gifts from the other. The result is that both husband and wife are elevated in ways and directions beyond either's capacity to rise alone. Truly, "neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 1:11).

I know I have been theoretical so far, but it is only because all this theory has been proven out as fact in our marriage. My wife is an amazing individual. She excels me in so many, many ways: patience, perseverance, selflessness, intelligence, her many varied talents, virtue, humility, generosity, kindness, and charity, just to name a few. Alone, she is a luminous person, a person of great dignity and capacity and capability.

But if she were to keep all that goodness to herself, rather than bestowing it upon me, our children, and the world at large, her capacity would be capped. Instead, she magnifies her womanhood by choosing to be a wife; by choosing to be a mother; by choosing to be a daughter, a sister, and a friend; by choosing to serve selflessly; by choosing to bestow her influence on the world in the ways that matter most, usually one person at a time.

She inspires me; she really does. There is no doubt in my mind that the most important work I will ever do is in my capacity as a husband and father, mirroring her womanhood as her counterpart.

This wasn't always obvious to me. I used to dream, as many young people do, of doing great things, of changing the world. I thought I would do it through my profession or through civic work, both of which are noble pursuits for a man or woman.

But my wife has helped me to see that changing the world really does happen at the micro-level, starting with changing myself. My wife has helped me begin that process, as only a woman can. She can not only see into many of my blind spots, but our union gives me motivation and purpose.

And she sets such an example! Through watching her, I have learned that the world can be changed for good or ill in the short span of one generation. My wife is determined to see that our children contribute to the good part of the next generation, and she gives her life to that cause--and thus is helping to save the world, beginning with our little family.

She chooses every day how she will spend her allotment of time on this earth, and I am so grateful that she has chosen to do that work which is of everlasting value.

To me, my wife is the quintessential example of what it means to be the best type of woman: a woman who has divine confidence, inspired by a knowledge that she is a daughter of God; a woman whose sights are set on celestial heights and who strives to become better every day; a woman who makes full use of the talents and opportunities given to her, and recognizes them as gifts from God; a woman who refuses to allow herself to be objectified, used, and abused in the ways the world relentlessly pressures her to be; a woman who stands for truth and right in her own quiet way, and when necessary, in her own not-so-quiet way; a woman of patience and forbearance who serves as a perfect counterbalance to an impetuous and often rash husband; a woman whose selfless existence inspires and uplifts others, who strengthens and solidifies the eternal bonds of love that hold our marriage and family together.

In other words, as she goes about her life, tapping into and actively developing the innate goodness of the divine nature God implanted within her at birth, she fulfils what every woman was meant to be, by simply being herself.

My wife is what it means to be a woman.

1 comment:

Mom said...

What an awesome tribute to your very deserving wife!