I woke up around 12:30 this morning with a familiar pain in my knees. With no mother to look after them, I got up and crept out to the kitchen to find the Tylenol. Downing a couple pills with a cup of water, I realized I wouldn’t be able to go to sleep until the pain subsided, so I decided to clean my dirty living room.
Cleaning in the middle of the night was weird, but amazingly efficient with no interruptions. Armed with my Norwex rag and essential oils, I scrubbed away grimy streaks on the walls and swept peach seeds out from under the couch while I thought about women.
I have had many thoughts about women and issues relating to women for almost as long as I can remember, and most of those thoughts are too premature to birth here just yet. But I can always ask questions, right?
If you are a woman, do you enjoy seminars and books and Facebook groups designed especially for women? Do you enjoy getting together with lady friends to discuss essential oils and cloth diapers and the latest movie? Why or why not?
I see myself as sort of a recovering snob in the area of women’s issues. Far too often in my lifespan I have been cynical and even slightly mocking of women’s events, seeing them as too emotional and shallow for my liking. But now I see that while my hunger to learn and grow spiritually is legitimate, my contempt is a greater sin than another’s ignorance.
So in my effort to understand the dynamics of a group obsessed with the best cleaners and recipes and couponing tips and vacation ideas, I’m trying to reach past what feels painfully boring to what is anything but boring–the true heart of a woman with all its longings and fears.
I can go to events now and be touched, even if the quality of teaching sometimes makes my head ache. I can enjoy some small talk (That chicken you made was delicious! May I have your recipe?). Listening to another woman and giving her my full attention while keeping an ear open to God at the same time is vastly rewarding. But there are things I don’t yet understand.
Tell me, if you are a woman, what do you want out of life?
Feel free to comment below, or send me a private email or Facebook message if that feels safer. I promise to listen without judging.
The knee-pain is subsiding, and I think I will wander off to bed now. My living room is fresh and clean-smelling, at least until morning when my happy, crazy children will flit and dance through the house, scattering books and papers and crayons and food smears. Before I go to sleep, I’m publishing this unedited version of my midnight thoughts, because I really do want to hear from you.
23 thoughts on “What Do Women Want?”
Any woman event would be good if the purpose was to listen well and also to be heard well, We all want to be validated and refreshed and encouraged. Since I haven’t actually seen that in the woman groups I’ve been with I’m committing to that on my own. I’d love to read an article on ways to do those things when it feels like I’m the only one.
I think you hit on a very key point here–women need to be heard. It doesn’t matter if a woman loves housekeeping or natural health or theology, whatever God put inside of her deserves to be heard.
Don’t want to rain on your parade but I have a little different perspective, seeing that I hear man talk most of the time. Now obviously I haven’t gone to women’s retreats but I have known of women’s groups, Sunday school classes, etc. that got right to the heart of a matter long before the men got there. Sometimes the men never even arrived at all. And men’s casual conversation? I wonder what percentage consists of work, hunting, sports,the weather, and oh yeah, did I mention work? Just saying, from my viewpoint I’ve seen some women go deeper in relationships than a lot of men ever go. Maybe I just know some good women!
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You know some good women. 😉 But yes, the problem of being spiritually shallow is not limited to gender. I remember my husband Will talking about going camping with a bunch of very good men, yet the conversation never included God unless he steered it that way.
The conservative culture seems to promote thinking more among men than among women, at least in some congregations where women are not allowed to teach at all, and are not expected to study the Bible (I draw a difference between reading the Bible and studying it). Some church groups obviously have done better at including and valuing and training women, but I think there’s still much work to be done.
Thanks for commenting! It’s good to hear your perspective.
Women’s groups that I have been involved with and workshops I have attended are usually focused on one particular goal or theme so educational in one way or another. Usually they are well planned and utilize time productively. I seldom participate in idle chit chat. However, when I meet with women friends one- on-one the atmosphere is different and whether we are discussing world problems or local or domestic concerns, I feel we each give full attention and often leave with a feeling of closeness. I’m thankful that these encounters are with a variety of friends from different age groups and differing backgrounds which seems to give me needed balance. With that said, it does not answer what I want from life as a woman—I want respect for both my mind and my heart; I want to feel like I’m leaving the world a little bit better for having been here and participated in life events; and that God will recognize my efforts at motherhood, neighborliness, and relationships as having been done with compassion and love. When written those seem lofty ideals but give my life purpose and fulfillment.
“I want respect for both my mind and my heart; I want to feel like I’m leaving the world a little bit better for having been here and participated in life events; and that God will recognize my efforts at motherhood, neighborliness, and relationships as having been done with compassion and love.”
What beautiful goals! It sounds like you have some healthy relationships.
Thank you for asking the question, Rosina. I am a woman and what I want most is to be a Christ follower. I am often discouraged because I feel that in my church women cannot participate as fully as men. My thinking in church sometimes goes like this: What I’m hearing in this sermon is that the “true” believers are known by their enthusiastic preaching of Christian doctrine. But in last Sunday’s sermon I heard that women should not teach and preach. Therefore women can’t be “true” Christians.
When I’m less depressed, however, and when I don’t listen to too many sermons about the all-importance of being an outspoken evangelist, I believe that women have historically lived out Christ’s teachings better than men have, because women are often the ones who care for the sick, bless the children, carry the cups of cold water to the thirsty, and clothe the naked.
I, too find that women’s only events often seem shallow and meaningless to me. I do not enjoy discussing essential oils and cloth diapers at length. I want to diaper my babies as efficiently as possible so I can think about bigger ideas. I’ve had a hard time finding older women that I admire as role models.
I have been encouraged by a few women I have known who combine emotional connections with intellectual ideas. This has helped me appreciate the more emotional, friendly nature of women’s events because I know that this squishy stuff does not have to come at the expense of not using our brains.
“I want to diaper my babies as efficiently as possible so I can think about bigger ideas.” Giggle! I think we would get along just fine. 🙂
The question of women’s role in the church is a tough one, and not one I’ve heard or seen many churches do well with. It’s a subject that turns in my mind often. One verse I think of in relation to it is “by their fruits you will know them.” If the fruit of our application of Scripture is either the oppression of women or the devaluing of men, something has gone wrong somewhere.
I like your description of combining emotional connections and intellectual ideas. Thanks for sharing!
When you asked what women want, I immediately thought of my friends at Faith Builders who taught me that every woman wants to be loved, cherished, protected. And considering my current struggles, I want to be understood. I want to feel connected to other people. I want to belong to a group.
Maybe it’s something like this: When my experiences/thoughts/feelings are understood=I feel connection=I belong. Thinking about this helped me to understand why some groups (like my Infant Loss Support Group and my Children’s Grief Support Group) are life-giving to me. It also helped to understand why I feel so much isolation in other groups that I’ve tried to be a part of. Does this make sense? I am looking forward to hearing more from you about this!
Your insights about connection resonate with me. Thank you!
My husband once did something amazing for me that I often wished for (usually subconsciously) but did not often find elsewhere. After I had written an article on education that came under fire from many places, my husband told one of the few people that actually talked personally to us that “education is her field and I respect her research.” I could go on and on about what I got instead of that from most others. To summarize, one thing that I want is a place at the table when decisions are being made on matters that I have invested thousands of dollars and years of my life in learning about. It’s painful to see such decisions made by people who just have a “position” and gender advantage.
I have heard some single sisters from our church–people with amazing skills and experience and a record of Christian service–lament the fact that nearly all committees, boards, and offices, etc. in our church are male-only, with the exception of sewing committee, Sunday school secretary, library committee, and food committee. Every one of these women would bring amazing benefits to any committee they served on.
Caveat: I do absolutely affirm the need for male leadership in Christian relationships, and the truth of the matter is that women are often relieved to not have to provide input on matters outside the sphere of a typical world for women in our setting. I’m certainly not advocating for a total reorganization of structures that are working well as they are. I wish only for honest evaluation of what is best–minus the biases that intrude when special privileges of gender and position are present. I wish men in leadership roles would seek out and be able to hear the input that might come from women who care about what is being decided–and not only from their wives. .
Your husband is wise and kind to affirm you in that way! Thank you for all your wisdom. I’m with you in not wishing to deviate from God’s design, but yet wondering if we are actually fulfilling our purpose in a way that pleases Him.
This is is such SOUND thinking. “I want a place at the table where decisions are being made on matters that I have invested thousands of dollars and years of my life in learning about.” This is so exactly It. Well said, Mrs. I.
I value your knowledge and research and dedication, whether to education or to a whole host of other topics about which you care. (Speaking of which, last night I saw a hummingbird at my feeder for the first time! And this morning it was back for just a moment. Such a shy little thing, and so precious.)
Thanks for the affirmation. Your hummingbird sighting makes me very happy. Only once this summer did we see a hummingbird at our feeder. We both held our breath while watching it.
I want my life to make a difference in this world. So cooking, cleaning, the physical things of caring for my family, for me are things to be gotten out of the way so I can do something “with more meaning”. But I have to remind myself often that these have meaning when I do them “as doing them for Jesus. I have struggled often to be interested in what feels like trivial things to me. I enjoy discussing ideas, goals, etc. rather than people and things. In our church we have women’s Sunday school class taught by women, so that is one outlet for sharing. One season of my life, when I had small children, several single ladies would come weekly for a Bible study. That was very stimulating for me spiritually and intellectually. I have found it interesting how many women blog, etc. and I enjoy the stimulating and challenging thoughts shared. I think, too often, we somehow get the idea that because men are to be the leaders, the women do not need to think!
Is that really what God has in mind? Or have we misunderstood what headship order means and is designed for? After saying all that, I have come to appreciate my sisters in the church that find fulfillment in the physical caring for the people around them and do so much better at caring for hearts in a simple way. Simple faith that serves others is pleasing to God.
You’re right that even the most mundane tasks done with love are meaningful and pleasing to Jesus!
I hope to talk more about women cultivating their intellect in a later post.
You don’t know me, and I’m not one to usually comment on these sort of things, but I so enjoy your posts and have spent a great deal pondering your question. I have asked myself similar questions, and I’m still not sure what the answers are or even should be. But one thing that comes to mind is Josh Gerrels’ song “At the Table.” In the song, God calls me home and reminds me that there will always be a place for me at his table. When I first heard this song, my heart needed to hear my Father calling to me, but I think it also applies to my relationships and interactions with others. As a woman, I too want to be invited to the “table”. I want a seat to call my own and maybe more importantly I want a place where I have been asked and called to be; a place where I have been invited. I think too often as women we are asked to prepare and to serve without being asked to just sit and participate. We’re quick to give up our seat to others but forget that we need our own turn at the table. We need a place to belong. The table also provides a place for us to not only listen to others but to be heard by others. We become a woman of worth at the table. There is no hierarchy or one seat more important than another; rather, at the table we have something to offer to those seated around the table with us. We have value and a place to share our gifts with others. Lastly, when it’s time to leave the table, I want to be satisfied. I want my heart to be full. In my experience with women’s groups and events, too often the conversation never goes beyond chit chat. I personally enjoy hearing and talking about motherhood, healthy cooking, and gardening tips but these topics alone never satisfy. I long for heart conversations, for authenticity, and deep connections that extend beyond small talk.
Having said all this, I realize I’m a bit idealistic and I’m not even sure how or where to find such a place. I’m not even sure if it exists, but I’d like to believe that there are other women in this world who might want a table of there own as well.
Yes, oh YES! This makes my heart ache. Thank you so much!
This is an interesting conversation, thanks Rosina for initiating it and for those who contributed so many good thoughts. I grew up loving to listen in to the men in my family. I find so much pleasure in the stimulating conversations that we can have. And I never have felt like my opinion did not matter, but I have learned much by listening. The women in my life have so profoundly contributed to shaping me in to who I am, that I dearly value the things I learn in our conversations as well. I would not want life without either the men or women in my life. I enjoy any kind of seminar because I love learning. I have come to appreciate the differences between an all ladies group or a mixed group in any setting. Both have been so important in vastly different ways. So yes, I want to be valued and heard. Even more, I want to value and hear. Yes, I want a place at the table too, not just to be heard, but so I have a chance to hear and learn and then be able to give back, pass it on, or bless others.
“I would not want life without either the men or women in my life.” You are touching on an important fact–we need both men and women. We need each person’s unique strength and weakness to mesh in a way that creates a strong and loving community. This will not happen when only some people are heard and valued, and when only some people want to be open to receive and learn.
I’d like to add a few points. They might be a bit off topic but I feel are important enough to make…
When we start talking about the desires of a woman’s heart, we often hear a longing to be valued, to be heard, and to be understood. We want desperately to be women of worth. Unfortunately, I have met very few women that actually feel this way. In fact, the majority of us have been deeply wounded by both men and women, the world and the church; which brings me to my first point. We live in a fallen world, and if we’re expecting to find our worth and value in others, we’ll never find it. Our worth and value only comes from being daughters of the King. We need to be careful that in our attempt to find community and a table to call our own we don’t start looking for others to fill something in our hearts that only God can. I say this because if we truly know what God says about us it’s okay if we never find a place at the table. It’s okay if we’re misunderstood and spend most of our lives feeling alone. It doesn’t change our desires or make the wounds less painful, but it reminds us that this world is not our home and we can find peace and hope in the midst of a broken world.
My other point is this…In my own experience, when we as women don’t feel valued, we tend to react in two ways. We either shut down, view ourselves as small, and begin to believe the lie that we have nothing to offer; or we became sharp, critical, and striving women. Our hearts can’t find rest and what we have to offer is never heard or received because we tend to speak out of frustration and anger. Neither reaction is life giving and both require the Father’s healing. Only when our eyes are fixed on Jesus and our ears tuned to Him can we discover who we are and who He has called us to be. That’s where we’ll find our worth and value, and we’ll soon discover that it can’t ever be taken away.
*I apologize Rosina if you’ve already written about this in your previous blogs, I’ve only been reading your blog for the past few months.
I agree that reaction in either direction is all too easy. We can become nameless and uncaring, or sharp and hard-hearted. That is not what I believe the answer is! As I’ve said before, I think both feminism (in the sense of demanding rights) and the submission culture (in the sense of disregarding the dreams God has for us) robs women of what God truly made them to be. This is a difficult tension to navigate, and I’m not at all sure I can do it well.
My lack of confidence in my ability to discern a good path for women has kept me from writing much on the subject, but lately I feel compelled to speak. I pray that God guides my words with wisdom and tenderness.
Thank you for your thoughtful contribution to this conversation!
Thank you for asking the difficult questions! May God bless you for your courage and willingness to share His heart with others! I look forward to reading what He places on your heart next!