I love makeup. Granted, I don’t wear eight layers of purple eyeshadow like some people, but I also rarely leave the house without a few products carefully applied. On my trip to Guatemala I wore makeup every day, despite the fact that I had to share one mirror with 12 people. I would wake up early before everyone else to do my hair and my face and of course noticed all of the reactions of the men. Harvey would smile and tell me it was so nice to see me first thing every morning. He was the polite one. My friend Josh, on the other hand, always felt the need to remind me in a sarcastic tone that we were “in Guatemala, Brooke!”. Eric would just stand behind me shaking his head, totally perplexed at the amount of beauty devices and products strewn all over the floor in front of the sink and the amount of time it took me to complete my morning project. Of course by the end of the day, after hiking through jungles, and getting all sweaty, it wasn’t even clear if I had put makeup on that morning. By then, the heat had caused it to dissolve into my pores. So what was the point, anyway?
I once heard that makeup is a form of “spiritual warfare”. Not totally sure how I feel about that statement but I get where they were coming from. It does make me feel prettier, more confident, more… whatever. But I also wonder if my need for it is just a symptom of this ache in my heart that I am “not enough”. I think a lot of girls feel that way and I think it’s a sad, universal lie from the enemy.
During my internship with Fire in the Night at IHOP, our leaders sat us down and talked to us about our obsession with having to look perfect all the time. Some of us *ahem* would find ourselves wandering to the bathroom during our six hours in the prayer room, making sure our hair wasn’t stuck to the sides of our head or that we didn’t have mascara dribbles clinging to our faces from our crying sessions with Jesus. And maybe a few of us *cough* COMPLETELY retouched our makeup because we just wanted to look pretty. But the truth was, we were distracted by our own appearance. We wanted to be valued and we assumed our physical appearance was going to make that happen.
The truth is, I have pretty good skin. Pale skin that could use a little color every-once-in-awhile, but good, healthy skin. I don’t really need a lot of mascara either, yet I slap it on every morning. I wonder what it would feel like to walk around for an entire day around friends and hot guys and not worry about how pasty my skin is or if my eyes look bright enough. I understand the whole physical attraction thing. We want to look nice and not like a bunch of slobs but honestly, I sometimes wish I would work as hard at what’s going on in my heart as I do with trying to look hot, myself. I think the expectation for some of us girls is that physical beauty is more important by leaps and bounds than having a beautiful heart. That this is the only thing that’s going to get a guys’ attention.
Maybe some guys only care about how gorgeous we are but I think I’ve realized at 33 that I don’t really want a guy that only cares about that. I love Jesus. I’m passionate about Him. I’m funny. I love people. I’m a little feisty but that’s hot too, right? I want a guy who has those kinds of qualities too. Definitely, the most important thing to remember is that our value doesn’t come from what some dude thinks about us. Okay. So maybe it comes from ONE Dude. Yeah, you know His name. I know this is probably something you know in your head but maybe it hasn’t hit your heart yet (I know it hasn’t really hit mine). He values us. He pursues us. He thinks we are beautiful, ladies. I think when we really start believing this and we realize how truly wonderful this is, it becomes a part of us… it can be seen on our faces just like our creamy peach blush. And that kind of beauty is not going to compare to the hours we spend in front of the mirror.
I wanted to give my readers some more-than-supplemental resources for this oh-so-controversial topic on women in ministry and so I introduce to you one of my favorite bloggers/theolgians, Amanda Beattie. Though I don’t know Amanda super well, she was my Core Leader during my IHOP internship. Amanda is one of the most meek, humble, peace-loving women of God I have met in my life. Her example has set a high standard for me in ministry. Not only does she have an awesome heart, I would consider Amanda a theologian… and one who definitely knows her stuff. She is a graduate of FSM and has an insatiable desire to study the Word of God. She is also a very talented and entertaining writer. Please read on… you will find some incredibly powerful material here.
When God called me to the ministry as a little girl, I wasn’t exactly sure what that would look like. From what I had seen, the ministry world was mostly dominated by men. The women that I knew who were in ministry were usually posted with the title of “wife of missionary” or “wife of pastor”. Though my dad was never anti-women-in-ministry, I didn’t understand that there could possibly be other opportunities for me other than checking the bulletin for all of my husband’s terrible spelling errors (one of the primary roles my mother played) or possibly leading a women’s prayer group or Sunday school class. I often helped my mom lead worship as a teenager and I remember her saying to me one day “you know, you should probably learn how to play guitar because as a youth pastor’s wife, it’s a very important skill to have.”
Don’t get me wrong—I love leading worship. My heart comes alive when I adore Jesus with music and can lead others into His presence but I remember being vey unsettled with the feeling that something else was missing. As a teenager I started a Bible study group at my very liberal high school with only one or two students who actually believed in Jesus. The faculty opposed almost everything that I tried to do in that school but I stood up to them over and over again, wanting the name of Jesus to be known. It was there that I learned I really loved to teach and preach—though I didn’t fully realize that was what I was doing at the time. I didn’t put a label on it—I just did it!
I went through a very strange wilderness season in my early adult years and for a time even walked away from God. I eventually came back to the Lord but this time the idea of being in ministry left a bad taste in my mouth. I just assumed, again, that for me to be in ministry meant I had to marry a pastor and looking back at the life my mom had was not appealing to me. You see, the “administrative” gift is not something the Lord gave to me freely. I don’t have an administrative bone in my body and am probably one of the most scatter-brained, unorganized people I know. When I plan something, I usually get flustered and frustrated and end up giving up on the project altogether. Why would I spend my life doing something that I was terrible at?
In June of 2006 everything began to change. I came to the International House of Prayer and learned how powerful a tool women are in the hands of God. Not only was the place filled with anointed intercessors but women preachers and teachers of the Word were plentiful. In fact, some of these women such as Shelly Hundley and Jennifer Roberts impacted me even more than Dwayne or Mr. Bickle (and the cool part is, those men wouldn’t at all be offended with me saying that).
In London in 2007 I preached my first message (since high school) at a House of Prayer meeting in a charismatic Anglican church. I have since been a part of other ministries where I was encouraged to preach and teach in front of both men AND women. Unfortunately for me—I realized that this is something I feel the Lord gave me an anointing for. And if Jesus has anointed and gifted me to do something why would He tell me I can’t do it? That sounds like an unjust God, to me. Since I have moved back to the south, for the first time, I am actually hearing opposition about the role of women preachers and pastors in the church. As I’ve prayed about it and searched scripture, and at times wondered if possibly I have been in the wrong all these years, I have come to a surprising conclusion: not allowing women to preach and teach in the church is an issue of justice. With no reservations at all, I will say that I believe it grieves the heart of Jesus when women are prevented from preaching and leading.
This blog is going to be the first of several blogs on this subject. I am not writing these blogs manipulatively because I want a certain position or are demanding that I be allowed to preach and teach. I am perfectly content with the season I am in at the moment. I am writing this blog because Jesus has placed a burden on my heart for all of the women and little girls that have a heart and passion to preach the gospel but are prevented from doing so because of the pride of men who have interpreted scripture in a dogmatic way. Some of the content that I write will come from the book Why Not Women? By Loren Cunningham—a man who has been a leader in missions for thirty years and has seen firsthand the anointing God has placed on women. I realize that I will probably appear as a feminist lunatic to some of you but my intention is not to force women ahead of men or to allow them to control or usurp power from men. What I desire to see is man and woman working together as equal partners—the woman encouraging the man in his gifting and the woman being encouraged to take her place in the kingdom of God. More to come…
Genesis says I was created to be a helpmate for a man. We’ve all been taught in our evangelical Christian circles that a woman’s role is to take care of her husband and children and keep the house clean. The problem is, I’m a thirty year old single woman so if that is what I was created for… do I even matter? Or is my life consist of me waiting around for the perfect guy to marry so that I can have kids and fulfill my “role” as a woman? Not that this isn’t an important part of being a woman but clearly… something is off. I think this is a universal struggle with women… even if we do have a husband and kids. Do… I… matter. Do I have worth as a woman? Am I enough?
But scripture reveals that there is so much more to the soul of a woman than who society and Christian culture tell us we are. We matter very much in the heart of God. There is something so much deeper to the physical and spiritual make-up of a woman than what any television add or piece of legalistic Christian literature can reveal. Women reveal a side of God that men will never be able to (and vice versa). In women we see the tenderness, vulnerability (yes, God is very vulnerable) and beauty of God. In women we see that God is relational and carries deep personal investment in the lives of people. In women we see the nurturing side of God (Isaiah 49:14-15,18). In women we see the deep well of emotions and jealous love that God carries as He longs to be loved and pursued. What man is ever described as beautiful?… but God can be described as that as He sits on the throne in Revelation 4 covered in jewels and surrounded by a rainbow.
In our purest form, women reveal the glory of God. We are the one other thing, beyond Himself, that God created to be sought after and pursued. Wow.
And as we look deeper into our creation, we see something even more majestic. We are a symbol of God’s deep love for His bride. There is no way that we can argue that we are being ignored or rejected or unwanted because the core of who we are is all that He wants and desires. We are all that He seeks and yearns for and will do anything to have.
It’s that time again! I wrote the last entry in my journal last night and today I will be embarking on a new one. I have found that when I begin a new journal, it marks the beginning of a new season with God. There are two things that I predict about this upcoming season. The first, is what is on the actual journal, itself… the cover, that is. My last roommate, Sarah Quillen, gave me a journal as a going away present before I moved to Ottertail. On the cover of the journal are the names of two cities, London and New York. These are cities that the Lord has spoken to me about prophetically. Inside, Sarah wrote a small note speaking to me about adventure and being obedient to God. I believe that in the next year or two, the Lord will be sending me on some wild adventures. I know that Ottertail is my home, and perhaps always will be, but the Lord has also stirred my heart for specific nations and cities that I know I will one day have an assignment in.
The second item on the menu, which sounds almost opposite from the first, is that I am in a season of preparation. Over the last couple of days I have been having some interesting conversations with a married friend of mine. I’m thirty years old and I have been female for all of those thirty years… but I am still in the process of learning what it means to be a woman. What is expected of me from God, from others and from myself? How do I feel comfortable in the skin I’m in, if it’s just me and no one else? How do I love God and how do I love others? What are my roles… not the roles that society and the church put upon me but… what does God want from me? What does the Bible really say about womanhood? What does it say about singleness? What does it say about being a wife? A mother? These are all things I’m determined to find out in this season.
And I guess these two things aren’t as different as I might have thought. Being a woman… especially a woman of God, a wife and a mother is one of the most thrilling and exciting experiences in life. Join me on this journey as I record my thoughts about womanhood and femininity.
There is this girl that has been making my life miserable lately. I blame her for the misery she has put me in for the past 29 years. She is insecure, a control-freak and way too needy. Her influence on my life has lessened dramatically in the past five years but the residue of her mistakes continue to show up occasionally and it has become rather annoying. This girl’s name is Eve (last name unknown). She existed probably about 6,000 years ago and I really don’t understand what her problem was because she got to walk with God (yes God) in the “cool of the day.” She literally got to hear His voice every day and have actual audible conversation with Him. Not only that but she lived in the most beautiful place that has ever existed alongside a handsome man who became her covenant partner for life. I’m pretty sure they had an almost perfect relationship. What would a girl give to just know that this “was the one” because, well, God plainly told her that he was “the one”. No guessing games… no games at all. Just love and romance and no sin to mess any of it up… yet.
Well, one day in the garden of Eden (think, rain forest with no humidity), Eve feels that familiar tummy grumble. She saunters up to a nearby fruit tree and then remembers… “oops. I’m not suppose to eat fruit from this tree. God said.” But before she has a chance to get the heck out of there this slimeball serpant hisses menacingly at her. Eve is decieved into thinking that even with her perfect body and her perfect mind, she is not “enough”. Not only is she not “enough” but God is holding out on her. He’s withholding good things from her. With all of that time hanging out with God, you would think Eve would know His charecter a little better than that.
So Eve decides to take her life into her own hands. She disobeys, believing that her ways are higher than His and not the other way around. This desire to control her own life results in disastor for all of humanity, especially for the female species. God curses Eve and in verse 16 of Chapter 3 it says “and your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.” Researching the word “desire” in the Hebrew I discovered that it’s real meaning is “be determined to assert our will over”. In other words… “our desire will be to control.” I was a little offended upon first reading this. I don’t think of myself as a control freak and to be perfectly honest, I’ve wondered at times if I’m a little too laid back about things. But as I talked to the Holy Spirit about this I recognized many ways in which subtle control had taken precedence in my life. I’ve manipulated, competed with other girls, acted out of insecurity… all familiar behaviors of most of the women I have ever known.
So what does this mean? Does it mean I have to live under this blasted curse for the rest of my life? Ummm…. no! Because, you see there was this amazing man that suffered and died and shed his blood so that I didn’t have to live under the curse anymore. Yes, we can still decide to live under the affects of the curse if we allow ourselves to, but we don’t have to.
We women have a bad case of mistaken identity. 2 Peter 1:3 says that God “has given us everthing pertaining to life and godliness”. We have the best that we can have and He is offering it to us on a silver platter. We need to stop insisting that our way is the best because… hello?… I’m pretty sure that God, glorious and majestic, has way way better stuff for us than what we can get for ourselves.
We also need to stop thinking that we aren’t enough! Hebrews 12:2 says that “for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame.” We are the joy that was set before Him. To Him, we are worth His suffering, worth His shame and even worth being seperated from His Father for a time. We are worth EVERYTHING to Him.
So it is time to give Him our lives and let Him have control. We obviously aren’t doing a good job trying to figure things out on our own. We’re only causing a greater rift in our relationships with both men AND women.
In Song of Songs we see this amazing relationship between a bride and her husband. It starts out a little shaky. There are a few times that she wants to do things her way. In chapter 2 she says, “you go on without me while I sit here under this apple tree and do things the way I want to do them”. So He does. He heads over to the mountains without her and lets her be by herself for awhile and the favor and protection lifts off of her and she realizes that there is no way on earth she could ever live her life without Him. What was she thinking? We see this a couple of times. She tries to take control and then she has to learn the hard way. It’s when she reaches Chapter 8 that I become a little jealous: “who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved?” She finally gets it. And then in the preceding verses she discovers an unrelenting, unquenchable love full of desire and passion that will satisfy her for eternity.
It is in that moment when we finally give up trying to find “the best” that we discover all that our heart’s are longing for. It is in that moment when we forfeit control that we learn to fall in love with the One God intended, the One who’s love is perfect and fully satisfying.