Genesis 2:18-23, NIV
The Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper (ezer kenegdo) suitable for him." Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man."
This, dear women, is the beginning of our identity. We were created as a suitable helpmate for man. And man's response to woman? Poetry! He speaks the first words of poetry in the Bible. After seeing and naming all the animals, his eyes landed on something that resonated deeply with him.
Created by God. Defined by God.
Carolyn Custis James says in her book, The Gospel of Ruth, "God created women to be his image-bearers - to know him, to become like him, and to represent him in their interactions with others. As theologians, Naomi and Ruth understood that the world revolves around God. Their mission is to center themselves on him - to trust him and to advance his kingdom. They do that as ezer-warriors, fighting battles he places in their path. God has created women to be warriors, and he stations us on all sorts of battlefronts every day of our lives...Furthermore (and this is where Boaz comes in), the Blessed Alliance - God's design from creation that men and women join forces in serving him together - is alive and well in the book of Ruth." (1)
What's an ezer? It's a Hebrew word used to describe a warrior. It's the word God uses to describe woman in the aforementioned passage from Genesis. A warrior. Strength. Might. And all those good things. Women are...ezer-warriors.
But what happens when that man isn't a part of our lives yet? What then? We were created to be his helpmate, but we can't very well help him if he isn't a part of our lives. What becomes of our identity then?
The answer again is found in Scripture, if but we would look a bit closer. James sheds light on this again, "When widowhood or anything else alters a woman's life, the center of her identity doesn't disintegrate, for she is not defined or redefined by circumstances, relationship, her resume, or public opinion. God defines her. If you looked up 'woman' in God's dictionary, you'd find the definition he set down as he drew up plans for the very first woman. He defined the woman as follows: 'Image-bearer: created in God's image and likeness; called to be fruitful and multiply, to rule and subdue.' It is the same kingdom definition that he gave to the man. It ascribes to them the highest value imaginable. God does not have a separate definition for widows or a widow footnote outlining an image bearer hierarchy, where the widow drops to the bottom. According to God's definition, she is right up there with everyone else. Widowhood does not downsize her God-given responsibilities or demote her from her exalted image bearer calling. There's a kingdom to build, vast enemy territory to reclaim. With a task this size, God is not about to sign off on any ezer-warrior's retirement or leave of absence...She remains on active duty for him." (2, boldface/emphasis added)
Now, go back and read that excerpt again, this time replacing "singlehood" and "single woman" with every reference to "widowhood" and "widow."
Just as the widow remains on active duty, I believe the single woman enters active duty before she enters a marriage. There is a kingdom to build. God is equipping and using His daughters - single, married, or widowed - now. He doesn't create us, fashion us in our mother's womb, know the number of hairs on our head, perceive our thoughts, and love us unconditionally just to set us aside. Until. Until we meet the man of our dreams. Until we become mothers. He has a plan, a purpose, a mission for us right here, right now.
"A woman's high calling as God's image bearer renders her incapable of insignificance, no matter what has gone wrong in her life or how much she has lost." (3)
You are significant. Did you catch that? You are an image-bearer of God, set apart from the beginning of Creation to bring Him glory. What a magnificent identity!
~Musical selection(s) that have met me in this stage of the journey:
Beautiful Things - Gungor
I Will Show You Love - Kendall Payne
1. Carolyn Custis James, The Gospel of Ruth (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 31.
2. Ibid, 64-65.
3. Ibid, 66.