Debunking the Myth of the Goldilocks Woman (Erin Brindley)
Some women think they’re “too much”: too loud, too dominating, too far from feminine. They speak their minds, broadcast their opinions and win high school yearbook awards such as “Most Likely to be a Lawyer.” Others think they’re “not enough”: not enough to be understood, noticed, known. These women live in their minds, keeping what opinions they do have to themselves. And if they did win a yearbook title, you’d never know because they’re too shy to speak up. Whether they perceive themselves to be “too much” or “not enough,” many women are battling the longing in their hearts to become the Goldilocks “just right” woman.
Culture constantly whispers idealistic expectations for that “just right” woman, promising significance based on what she can achieve through her own efforts to fashion herself according to those standards. So women compare: How does my “resume” for marriageability match the most popular Pinterest pinners? How does my “resume” for successful motherhood measure up with stay-at-home supermom of the year? How does my “resume” for vocational success fare against women touted as Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World?
With personality, gifting, experience and skill-set laid bare, many women perceive that the “just right” woman is perpetually beyond their reach. On the one hand, their perception is right. Every woman carries flaws and failures strangely absent from the “just right” woman. On the other hand, perhaps they’re building their expectations on the wrong foundation. Perhaps their assumption that aspiring to be this unattainable creature will secure for them purpose, love and significance but, instead, it only breeds frustration and futility.
And perhaps there’s another way for a woman to look at herself and her potential—a way that not only promises purpose, love and significance but actually delivers these things, a way that doesn’t breed frustration in who she isn’t but guarantees freedom through who she already is. God gives us that way in His Word.
Sisters, these three reminders are for you, that you may lay aside the vain pursuit of “just right” and glory instead in the God who created you, redeemed you and called you by name (Isa. 43:1).
1. God declares a woman’s purpose prior to any performance.
A woman’s real “resume” begins well before she speaks up or shuts up. It begins before she graduates with a law degree or a culinary certificate. It began centuries ago in a garden, with the very words of God:
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:27-28
We see three actions in these verses—three actions but only one Person behind them. God is the only One taking charge here: God created, God blessed, God said. Man and woman were equal recipients of His action, both designed to reflect the image of their Creator. Both man and woman received the blessing of enjoying right relationship with Him and both were mandated to image God as cultivators of His creation. This purpose given to woman, alongside man, came at the Lord’s decree, not her own desire for self-improvement. Woman didn’t need to prove her worthiness before God granted her both dignity and equal charge in His kingdom. His declaration did not hinge on what she had to offer.
Sister, you are created with purpose by God.
2. God prioritizes a woman’s relationship with Him over the personality and skill-set He has given her.
God doesn’t follow the world’s system of prior experience and proven expertise. He places a different expectation on the woman of God, which prioritizes her relationship with Him over the wiring He’s given her. God’s great love forges and secures this relationship, rescuing woman out of death and restoring her to life by grace through faith in Christ (Eph. 2:1-9). In love through Christ, God adopts her into His family (Eph. 1:4-6) and guarantees His love for her throughout eternity (Rom. 8:38-39). Personality and skill-set may shape woman’s role in the kingdom, but they do not supersede or supplant her relationship with the King.
Sister, you are redeemed in Christ with eternal love.
3. God prepares good works for His daughter, and these, not her worldly resume, support her significance.
The recipients of God’s rich mercy in Christ are God’s workmanship, created for good works that God has prepared in advance for them (Eph. 2:4, 10). God chooses His daughter for significance, appointing her to go and bear fruit that will last, a work that glorifies God and proves her relationship with Him as a beloved follower (John 15:16, 8). God’s daughters are re-charged with the creation command to cultivate. Yet Scripture doesn’t limit those in Christ to a selection of possible good works or acceptable spheres for cultivation. The daughter of God can image God, enjoy right relationship with Him and cultivate His kingdom with a life-of-the-party personality or a soft-spoken disposition, as a high-ranking government official or a homeschooling mom.
Sister, you are called by name to good works, which God has prepared for you.
So hear the voice of God from the foundation of the world silence those whispers of “too much” or “not enough” with the declaration that He has created His daughters fit for His kingdom’s purposes. Sister, God fashioned you with His creative hand, restored you to loving communion with Him through Christ and set in motion your significant work of kingdom cultivation. Created, redeemed in love and called by God, you are “just right” for the abundant life He has promised (John 10:10).