From the time I was a very young girl, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up…a woman, a lovely, feminine woman. For me that included being a wife and mother and the keeper of the home. Everything about womanhood fascinated me. A true girlie girl, I love lipstick and hairstyles and all the trimmin’s. “How boring it must be to be a man,” I thought, because they were so limited in how they could look or dress. And they can never feel the miracle of a new little life growing inside them! Oh, yes, I was very happy God had made me female. Did you know, dear sister, that if you are married, God already had a ministry planned for you when He knitted you together in your mother’s womb? Genesis 2:18 says, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” From Stasi and John Eldredge’s book “Captivating,” I learned that “helper” is a weak translation of the original language. The word is “ezer,” which means lifesaver or life sustainer. It is the very word that is used when the Holy Spirit is described as our helper. I know we’ve all heard the jokes that we are not our husbands’ Holy Spirit, and we’re not. But that’s how strong the role of helper is as a wife. Our husbands won’t be all that God intended for them to be without we wives being true helpers, or life sustainers. And we will not be all that God intended us to be if we forsake this calling, for in doing so we honor Christ and bring glory to God. But back to my girlhood dream. I lived it when my children were very young. Then when they were 7, 5, and 3, I was pushed out of the nest to go to court-reporting school. It wasn’t my idea, but I submitted to it. The idea was that it was something that could be flexible, working freelance, and I would not have to be gone eight to five while making a supplemental income. We had no debt except a house payment, but money was very tight. It would be a great career if I had limited it in that way. Instead….. I excelled in school, graduated in two years, and hit the ground running. It was like a switch was turned on in this stay-at-home mom who had breast-fed, used cloth diapers, and cooked dinner every night from scratch. I became highly competitive, driven, a self-absorbed workaholic. A new car was purchased. The 965-square-foot house I had been perfectly content in was replaced with one much larger. Adding in the school loans, I was tied to making a “quota” every month to pay debt. I was exhausted, working night and day, having chronic insomnia so badly that I struggled to stay awake on the job. It took about two years for complete burnout to set in, but now I was trapped. I remember laying prostrate in my living room floor and confessing to God that I had gotten myself into a mess, and He was the only one who could get me out. My mentor at that time told me to envision what I wanted my life to be as I prayed and waited upon God. As I did this, the eyes of my heart began to see the soft woman I truly was, letting go of the false identity I had assumed. You can know you’ve taken on a false identity by the fruit it produces. Remember this: The enemy drives; God gently leads. I repented and trusted that somehow God would bring me through. The Lord did change my circumstances, but it was not overnight. I had become the main bread winner, and there was now debt to cover. God had to do a work in my marriage so that we were on the same page. But I was able to cut back to a normal work week and then eventually to part time until my children were older. I wonder what my life would have looked like if I had made a different choice, if I had helped work out another solution to the tight income or, once having graduated, never worked more than was needed. What difference would that have made in the lives of my children and in my own heart? When I was thrust into the world of dressing up, driving all over the state, working with attorneys and witnessing so much, well, worldliness, I lost something tender in my heart. My mind was filled with pleasing other people, with deadlines, with looking as good as possible so as to be accepted professionally. I’m going to make a bold statement here: When we take on a false identity, assuming a masculine role, we can become hardened. And when we are hardened, we are easily broken. That’s what happened to me. Does that mean a woman isn’t strong? No, it doesn’t. Married or single, a woman’s strength is best displayed in her relationships with her family, friends, and in whatever ministry that the Lord shows her. She has the strength to stand with and affirm her husband no matter what the circumstances of life bring. In addition to life sustainer, she is a life giver. A woman perceives the needs of hearts. She can give a word or a touch that brings life to the hurting. She will birth many “spiritual” children as she gives her heart in relationship and on her knees in intercession. I now have no children in the nest, but my desire hasn’t changed. I still want to be a lovely, feminine woman. I still love lipstick and hairstyles; only now I need some help covering the gray. I want to bring glory to God by being my husband’s helper. My heart still wants to nurture my children and now my grandchildren. But most of all, my heart yearns to be the woman God made me to be–yes, His original design. I am still seeking Him for that, but I can see a glimpse of her now, and she IS lovely and feminine. Thank you, Father, for making me female, for making me your woman. That is my true identity.