Recently, after two of my girlfriends had attended a Rockies baseball game, they recounted this scene to me: “Sitting several rows behind us were a few guys; one of them in particular was the extremely drunk, obnoxious, ruin your night type. After several innings of annoying but laughable behavior from this particular guy, he honed in on a little boy sitting in the same section who (they later learned) had traveled from Nebraska with his family to catch the Rockies play his favorite team, the Mets. He donned his Mets hat and was so excited to cheer on his beloved team.” They went on to describe how the idiot began to taunt and tease the little boy because he was cheering for the Mets…to the point he made the boy cry! Well, that was the tipping point for his mom. She whipped around and with her finger pointing and a few choice words, she laid into this guy and his friends. When she was done, the idiot and his friends (who’d failed to intervene in his obnoxious behavior) were speechless and the section was cheering. And that was it. Mama lion had roared.
While I know that it’s pretty common for “mama lion mode” to kick in when it comes to little cubs (you mom’s know what I’m talking about), their story got me thinking about the times that I’ve failed to “roar” in my daily life. More generally, what are the times we women, mothers or not, snooze in the shade, letting the world capture our attention, make our choices and or define our focus? Or, what are the times we casually allow ourselves to be swayed by fear and false beliefs? While we may not consciously choose to snooze, in the times we don’t roar in defense of the truth we know about Jesus and the truth we know about how He’s called us, this is what happens.
I’ve recently been reading The Warrior Ethos by Steven Pressfield. In it, he describes the “making of a warrior”; the combination of training, mentality and cultural expectations that define a man becoming a warrior, specifically in Spartan society. An early chapter of the book is entitled ‘Women First’ and in it, Pressfield explains that Spartan king Leonidas would pick warriors for battle based not on their prowess but on the courage of their women. “He chose these specific warriors for the strength of their wives and mothers to bear up under their loss.” Leonidas knew that if (and more likely when) his warriors died at battle, the ability of Sparta, and ultimately Greece, to withstand oncoming onslaughts would be dependent on the strength of the women left behind. In Leonidas’ mind, the ultimate survival of the whole depended on the women of Sparta.
I adamantly believe that men play a pivotal role in the Church, in our families and in our communities (see the Reverse Engineering or I Am That Man series) and in no way is the strength of the whole riding on women, as Leonidas’ theory suggests. Men and women together weave the perfect plan that God has intended. However, I also believe that we women have sold ourselves short and more times than not, we’ve bought into one of two things: 1. that as the so-called “weaker sex”, we should seek to overcome our God-created ways in order to keep up with the “big boys” and thus, have become aggressive and overly independent, filling the roles and taking the initiative/leadership that men are called to; or 2. that we indeed, as society tells us, are not worth much more than our bodies and must seek to constantly live up to the physical or personality traits that have been deemed identifiers of our worth. Scream! Ladies, we’ve given in and traded who God created us to be to become pawns of our degenerative society, tossed around, aimless and clinging to most anything BUT the truth of Jesus! We’ve taken our buckets to the wrong well (see the Jack and Jill series) and we’ve sold ourselves short. What is the world telling you to “be”? Be stronger? Be more attractive? Be more aggressive? Be more dependent? More independent? We weren’t created to live in the shadows, bouncing through life trying to achieve the unattainable. So why do we buy the lie that we’re supposed to? A reprogramming of sorts is in order. We are different, on purpose. Our goals, our roles, our targets are to be different. In his essay A Vision of Biblical Complementarity, John Piper writes that biblically, “differentiated roles for men and women are never traced back to the fall of man and woman into sin. Rather, the foundation of this differentiation is traced back to the way things were in Eden before sin warped our relationships. Differentiated roles were corrupted, not created, by the fall. They were created by God.” Think of a puzzle—men and women are cut differently, made for different purposes, each piece perfectly fitting together to create a complete picture. Piper adds, “The tendency today is to stress the equality of men and women by minimizing the unique significance of our maleness or femaleness. But this depreciation of male and female personhood is a great loss.” And that it is.
In Proverbs 31, Solomon describes the characteristics of a wife of noble character. I’m going to take a bit of liberty here and consider these to be characteristics of all noble women (wives or not). Not only is she described good and virtuous, she’s strong, powerful and just. She serves her family and her community. She’s wise and fearless. Her husband seeks her counsel and her respect. She owns and tends her own land. She fears God and seeks him. I want to be this woman! She’s feminine in every sense of the word and serves her family and her God. She’s commanding and submissive; a leader and a server. And most importantly, her heart beats for God as she walks in the roles he created for her.
Pressfield closes his ‘Women First’ chapter with this: “The lioness hunts. The alpha female defends the wolf pack. The Warrior Ethos is not, at bottom, a manifestation only of male aggression or of the masculine will to dominance. Its foundation is society-wide. It rests on the will and resolve of mothers and wives and daughters—and, in no few instances, of female warriors as well-to defend their children, their home soil and the values of their culture.” Ladies, there is no doubt that we are our own kind of warriors, lionesses who have just as much of a God-created role to fight to the death for Truth. I’m convinced there’s something worse than dying. It’s not living for something worth dying (or worth roaring) for.
Amanda Brown is on staff with the Women’s/Community Team at Flatirons.