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Fear and Femininity

I was 9

years old when I got the pep-talk of all womanly pep-talks from my mama. A bike

race down a steep hill ended when I lost control of my pink, banana-seated

cycle and landed face first on the pavement. There was blood. I heard the word “stitches”

and began to cry. When we got to the E.R., my mom took me to the ladies’ room to

clean me up as best she could. When I saw my bloody reflection in the mirror, I

began to shake. That’s when Mama spoke

words that have defined my understanding of womanhood. “We’re women,” she said.

“The sight of blood doesn’t scare us. We’re used to seeing it, and we’re the

ones who bandage wounds in battle.”

When my mom equated strength to femininity, my spirit surged, and suddenly

bearing my bloody chin bravely became a badge of womanhood. Throughout my life,

mama did a great job of sharing the stories of brave women in my history. Women

who survived abuse, women who started businesses, women who stood up for the

underdogs. Courage became as fused into feminine identity as compassion,

gentleness and kindness.

In the

last decade or so, culture has been heavy handed in its take on female strength.

We perpetuate icons of sensual power and competitive ambition that are supposed

to signal that we’ve arrived in the marketplace, on the battlefront and in our

autonomy, yet it’s done little to cultivate true courage.

When walking

in the gym’s parking lot at night, when confronting an aggressive individual,

when giving a presentation in a room full of critics, the accomplishments of

feminism do not prepare me to face danger. They don’t equip me with wisdom nor

keep me calm and confident under stress. Plenty of modern women still spend

their lives paralyzed or bullied by fear in all its forms.


women seem to have to face fear more frequently. When you hear something in the

night, there is no one to inspect the situation with a bat in hand, but you.

But fear is an ever-present reality for all of us because the world is broken,

and we are acquainted with it. We know that it lurks in picket-fenced

cul-de-sacs as well as it does in brick-clad, inner-city projects. Evil is a

main character on primetime dramas as well as the on the morning



I’ve been experiencing fear tingle down my spine when coming home late at night

and when facing looming deadlines at work. It’s in those times that I remind

myself that I come from a long line of brave women, and cowardice is not in my



when courage really surges within me, it’s when I remember the simple yet

profound truth that God is good and loving. I can trust Him to protect me from

danger and restore me when tragedy strikes. 

God is

our refuge and strength, a very present help

in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of

the sea, though its waters roar and

foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling (Psalm 46:1-3).


courage of my foremothers is ultimately not about prowess in danger, but in

their resilient spirits that look a lot like what is described in the Bible as

a gift from God: “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and

of love and a sound mind” (1 Timothy 1:7).


we respond to fear is critical. It will either perpetuate bondage in our lives

or unleash freedom. It will make us victims, or it will drape us in strength

and dignity (Proverbs 31:25).


contemplating your 401K, navigating through a rough part of town, or leading a

demanding project at work, how will you reject fear and embrace the power, love

and a sound mind that are God’s good gifts to you?

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