This statement by George Elliot means more to me now than the first time I read it. We have all seen the motivational posters and the cute little sayings people post on facebook. Most of us smile and think, “oh that is cute, I need to send that to (insert friend’s name here)”. I have been one of the worst about this behavior. This quote by George Elliot has been on my facebook page for over a year and yet when a friend of mine sent it to me the other day, all the sudden it hit me… I can do this.
In the last year I made some life altering choices, I made these choices out of anger and hurt. In doing so I began to walk down a path other than the one God has called me for. In fact, I was blatantly defiant in choosing this path. My entire life I have pushed against anything “traditionally female”. This is due, in large part, to the fact that I was trying to fill in the missing pieces in my family. Since it was just my mom, my sister, and me I filled whatever role I needed to, from giving counsel to my sister to supporting my mother. That is not to say I was a perfect kid, far from it actually. Because I was so worried about filling the holes rather than just accepting that this was my family I began to resent our life. I held a great deal of anger and bitterness very close to my heart. There was only so long that I could hide those feelings. I took those feelings out on my mother and my sister. Anyone who has dealt with an angry sixteen year old girl will tell you, we can be pretty terrible. I consider my sister to be my absolute best friend, and yet there were times in high school when I was angry with her and I couldn’t explain it. Instead I lashed out with angry words that tore into my sweet natured sibling. The worst part was, I wasn’t even sure why I was acting out.
Eventually my seventeen year old self realized that I was angry. The problem was, I didn’t know who to be angry at. My mom? She was a single parent coping with divorce. My sister? She was a victim of circumstances beyond her control. So I began to look around. What did people have that I didn’t? The answer was… a guy. This guy could take many forms; the most obvious lacking in my world was my dad. I realized that I was angry at him for leaving my family and that I was angry at my family for my self-imposed position as his replacement. This is when my aversion to all things feminine began. I found feminism. For girls today if you have issues with men (whether that be your dad, brother, boyfriend or just men in general) it won’t be long before you find your way to feminism. Feminism is defined as the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of social, political, and economic equality to men. Being all of seventeen when I first stumbled across feminism I, of course, knew that only these women could understand me. I began to take their word as law and I pulled away from God. Do not misunderstand me, in theory feminism is a great concept. Women should absolutely have the same rights as men (i.e. voting, equal pay, job opportunities). However, when women begin to try to BE men, there is a problem. Men and women are designed differently by the grace of God. Women are not made to replace men. This was something I did not have a grasp of at seventeen. I began to look at anything remotely feminine as being put in place by men to subjugate women. As a somewhat rebellious teenager, the idea of anyone trying to make me fit a mold sent me into a tailspin.
I began to read everything I could get my hands on that mentioned feminist ideas. I am a bit of a researcher by nature so I would go through the bibliography of each book and then read those books as well. I completely saturated my world with the angry hatred of men that was being presented. I decided at that point (ignoring God and his call) that I would never get married. I didn’t want some MAN controlling my life and telling me what to do. I could do everything all by myself. I told everyone and anyone who would listen that I didn’t want children. Why would I give up MY life to just be a walking uterus? (Mind you, during this time I was working in the Children’s Ministry at my church and loving it!) No, marriage and a family is good for people who don’t have any drive or ambition, not for me.
Fast-forward a couple of years and I was dating a great guy. No, I didn’t believe in marriage but that didn’t mean I couldn’t have fun, right? He was my best friend and confidant, the only problem was I wasn’t being honest with him or myself about my issues with marriage. We got to the point most couples do where you are trying to figure out if this is it… once again I chose not to listen to God. Instead I tried to force it. My boyfriend wanted to get married, and I was terrified. Instead of owning up to that and being honest I pulled away. I used my desire to graduate early from college as a way to distance myself from him. (During this time, I needed a job and one at a church nursery just happened to open up and I accepted it.) Eventually my boyfriend and I did the right thing and broke up, but it took time and caused a good deal of damage to us both. My response was to once again turn to feminism. I tried the relationship thing, it didn’t work. So who can I blame? Men.
In the next two years I built up walls around my heart. I did not date. I kept as far away from men in general as possible. The reason was? I had found "my purpose". The problem with this lies in the fact that I never consulted God on this. I decided that I was going to be a professional; a high powered career would replace a husband and family. Then I would be happy, and the ache growing in my heart would go away. So the question at this point was, what am I good at, what can I do? The only answer I could come up with was graduate school that was where I am had to get if I want a real career. The problem with my plan lies in the fact that I never consulted God on my plan. I was weeks away from getting my bachelor’s degree when a family issue changed my plans. I was going to have to stay in College Station for an extended period of time. I hadn’t made plans to stay there. I didn’t have a job lined up, I had no idea what I was going to do. Three weeks before my graduation I got a phone call from the directory of the preschool program at a private school in town. She had gotten my name from a parent at the church nursery. They had a job opening and they were looking for someone with a lot of energy. I took the job, simply because it was a paycheck. I expected to hate this job. How could I possibly enjoy working with kids? That is such a gender stereotype! And yet, I did. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t like getting up early and Mondays were never fun, but I loved working with my kids. And then I let it all go.
As it became time to renew my contract for the next school year another family issue shook my confidence. I began to look around at my life and I realized I was giving in to the rules! I panicked. I applied to grad school on a whim because of hurtful words that were thrown my way. When I got my acceptance letter I quit the job I loved to pursue the career I thought I wanted. I packed up my stuff and moved to grad school. (A job as a nanny to three precious children in Lewisville just happened to fall into my lap a week after I got there.) Once again I didn’t ask God. I had decided to pursue a career as a museum curator, then as a professor, then back to a museum curator, then a museum researcher then back to a professor. I couldn’t make up my mind (and that is NOT like me at all). The reason I couldn’t decide? Because I was actively pushing against God’s purpose for my life.
During the early portion of my first semester in grad school I came to the realization that this is not where I am supposed to be. After a great deal of praying, thinking, and list making I realized my purpose. God made me to work with other women and children. Even when I was actively rebelling against God’s design for my life, God repeatedly gave me opportunities to realize my purpose. At first I thought it was a coincidence that all of my jobs revolve around kids (the children’s ministry in high school, the church nursery, the private school, and being a nanny). Because I wasn’t made to work with kids… or so I thought. The problem was that I had to let go of the feminist ideas and anger that I had developed to cope with life. I had to realize that wanting to work with children did not make me weak. Wanting to have a family does not make me a lesser woman. Embracing God’s purpose for my life meant shaking things up. In order to become the person God designed me to be, I am going to had to change my path. Instead of being angry and trying to hide my broken pieces behind a career, I had to let go of my plans and give into God’s plan for my life. Yes, I was defiant, and I walked away from God’s plan. But it is not too late! God is merciful and forgiving.