I have never felt less beautiful or date-worthy than I did in Bible College. Moreover, I never felt less able to be entirely myself. The moments that I let that happen I was marked “brash”, “crass”, or worst of them all “feminist”. So, of course, I learned to shut my mouth, never leave the dorm without lipgloss on, and never ever wear yoga pants or open a door for myself when a man was within one hundred feet. Not ever.
While some of this may be slight exaggerations, the reality is that I had to re-teach myself how to be the kind of Christian woman that God was creating me to be upon graduation. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned, how they came about and what happens now!
A lady minds her words. Now, as someone that writes with frequency, I am very sensitive to words, their use and the ways that verbalization can impact a life. But, sometimes, let’s be real, “Gosh Darn It” doesn’t quite express the reality of your situation. How have I learned to use this knowledge? I’m taking a page from one of my professors and only using swear words when ABSOLUTELY necessary. Meaning, that a lot of my swearing is done in prayer, because who can you be more honest with than God? Or, in the sacred space of community that knows my heart. These people are a select few and understand that I don’t use words like that lightly and it’s okay.
A lady fits into a box. A pretty package of tall and thin cloaked in tights, skinny jeans, flowy dresses, Hebrew tattoos and meakness elevated in high heeled boots shrowded in thick framed glasses. This is the uniform of perfection as if Eve herself would have shopped an H & M sale. Now, I’m not saying that I myself do not love a good haul, a date with my curling wand or even word studies to indelibly place on my life, but, come on! There are plenty of other ways to be beautiful. Stop being surprised by my choice to rock bright florals and Chucks. I promise, you could dress however you want and it’d be just fine. Embrace yourself as you are, stop trying so hard. How have used this knowledge? When I dropped 33.5 pounds after graduation, I threw away most of my clothes and instead wear what makes me FEEL like myself, what makes me feel pretty. It doesn’t matter what I’m supposed to look like.
A lady must not date more than one guy on campus. I dated three times in my four years at LCU. All of them were fellow students, all of them acted REALLY weird after the break up. I mean like, telling lies about me to the next girl they dated weird. All of them married the next girl they dated. One of them actually told me that I wasn’t “girlfriend” material, I was “wife” material which is why he didn’t want to date me, because, I was spiritually stronger than he was and much more independent than he thought he could handle. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Laura, you were an older student, if he was younger, of course he was intimidated!” The situation was this, we were the same age! It was interesting to watch him break up with me, belittle me and then sit in classes next to his soon-after fiancée who would tell just about anyone that he was the strongest , kindest man she knew. Strong, wise, kind men don’t call names, ladies. They don’t. So what about now? I am queen of “Cool Your Jets”, and “Let’s just see what happens”. It makes things easier and there’s no race to the altar in the real world, so we’re good.
A lady must be dependent. I hear this fall under the blanket of “chivalry” all of the time. But, the last time I checked, no one I know is a knight. Furthermore, when you look up codes on chivalry, it has more to do with jousting than it does respecting women. So, every once in a while, let me be good to you and buy your coffee, or open the door for you. You won’t lose your man card, dude. How do I deal with this now? Well, a few weeks ago, my sweet, dear friend Jon was in town. When he met me for coffee, I made sure to order my own prior to his arrival and I insisted on buying him breakfast. Every other time we spend time together, he treats me. He pays. He drives. He takes care of me. Sometimes, it’s fun just to tell him that I want to do nice things. As part of my sacred space people, he gets it.
A lady must be taught. I have to be extremely careful with this one because, it could make me sound like I don’t want to be lead. I do. Someday, some strong in Jesus man will come into my life and lead me. But, I can’t just sit there until it happens. I can’t. Growing in my own understanding of who I am and who God wants me to be prepares me for what He’s got in store for me. I should know what I believe and stand firm in those truths until someone that wants to lead me to grow in those things comes along. Until then I will NOT read books like “Captivating”, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” or any of those other “how to wait for your spouse” books. I will instead grow as an individual and let myself be enough.
The reality is that my time at LCU was the best time of my life. I learned more about myself and Jesus in that tiny town, on the microscopic campus than I ever thought possible. Along with all of that learning came some harsh lessons in the fact that the Kingdom and community of God is fallible. Is imperfect, has some stuff really wrong, but, it’s okay. Because, Jesus died for the broken, busted up people.