As I am here in the middle of one of thousands of Starbucks writing a paper for my history class, I can’t help but to make things personal.
My paper for class is slowly morphing into what I want to discuss, which is the second feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s in the United States. I keep writing about the change of traditional roles of women in American society. Women began to burst into the workforce in larger numbers than ever before. Women started to demand the same respect that men receive in both their careers and personal lives. The passive, submissive, “controlled” housewife and woman had gone as women began their long climb to break the glass ceiling. I absolutely love this, being a woman I am in favor of equality for women (and everyone, but that is a post for another time). However, with that freedom came crazy power struggles, problems, and stigmas that are alive today. AIDS became a horrifying and real problem with the opening of sexuality. Feminists are tagged with negative thoughts and feelings. There was the struggle of power between men and women. And now with the options of education and work, if a woman desires a family or to stay home with her children, she is not doing enough. She is not living to her potential or taking advantage of the rights that those social martyrs in the 60s fought so hard to get. Women should be grateful, and go to college to stick it to the men. To prove we are better.
This is a new struggle I have just recently noticed. I am an educated woman; I am finishing my B.A. degree in a few months and hope to obtain more degrees from schooling in the future. And I am getting married during my time here at university.
Once I received my engagement ring and started wearing it proudly on my finger, people seemed to no longer see a respectable, educated woman, but instead a sell-out, anti-feminist who only wanted her MRS degree. I was instantly transformed from an individual person to a desperate woman. All because I had found the man who I want to spend the rest of my life with.
With remarks and jokes from others*, I began to struggle with these ideas of being needy or becoming a trophy wife. I even wrote my fears in a journal entry. “I don’t know if I can do this. How can I be a wife? I am not finished yet. I can’t cook or clean like a good wife should. I can’t be passive. I can’t stay home and waste away in to nothingness. I am still a person.”
These may sound trivial or ridiculous, since some of these are old-fashioned ideals but these are the struggles I ran into when thinking about myself as a wife. Living in a world where the world calls for super CEO wives and moms, and being in the church where I had the Proverbs 31 “checklist”… these expectations became too much. I knew that there is no way I could do everything that everyone asked or expected of me.
But here’s the thing: I don’t have to.
The thing about marriage is that it is the absolute representation of Christ and the church. The bride needs her groom and the groom cherishes his bride. This perfect partnership makes both people more effective for the sole purpose of bringing glory to God. When I accepted Christ to become a part of his church (and be His “bride”), he did not expect me to bring anything to the table. He does not require that I need to have mastered patience, kindness, gentleness, and love. All I had to be was willing to be with Him, to want to learn, and take on a new name as His bride.
That is the same realization I had about my personal feelings.
My future husband is not asking me to be a perfect wife (there is NO SUCH THING.), to have the perfect budgeting with money, or to stay at home and be a trophy wife. All he asks is that I be willing to be with him and to learn with him. I mean, that is how he proposed, right? “Will you do ME the HONOR of being my wife?” That’s it. I bring him honor by being willing to marry him. I become a new person by marrying him and taking his last name. New beginnings happen. Just as in Christ we become new creations.
All the pressure to be the wife I imagined that I should be is now gone. That imaginary wife is imperfect in her perfection because she is impossible to be. All I can do is be willing to love, learn, grow, and be with my future husband and make the choice to do that each day.
I know the stigma, jokes, and meanies are out there. I still hear from them. But I am not doubtful in myself, or my abilities.
I am right where I need to be.
Much love. Much grace.
*Disclaimer: My fiancé never said any of those things. I am referring to classmates, peers, and “friends”. Mr. Yell is quite the sweetheart and protects my feelings.