Talking and laughing loudly if God has given me a clear voice and a hearty laugh? That’s not the issue. And this isn’t about acting a part or being secretive and sly. Spilling the secrets of my soul indiscriminately or laughing provocatively is the issue. When I talk and laugh with discretion — with delicacy! — I tell the world, “There’s more to me than I’m sharing now and it’s precious.”
The above is an excerpt from a recent article on the YLCF blog titled ‘Myths about modesty and mystery’. Readers, it upsets me. I’m one of those gals the good Lord has blessed with ‘hearty laughter’. I’m quite fond of it and wouldn’t give it up for anything — not even delicacy. I am not a flower. I am a person. I have a sense of humour. I laugh with people, not at them… And here I am being told, though not in so many words (notice how often so-called ‘biblical womanhood’ is communicated in not so many words?) that I’m not being modest or mysterious enough.
I am being told, by a woman no less, that by being myself, I am being bland. I’m being ‘too much’.
I think it was in Captivating that Stasi Eldredge named n shamed the ‘too much, not enough’ phenomenon we women struggle with. Our whole lives, we are told we are too much (too loud, demanding, emotional, busy) or not enough (not pretty enough, not a good enough cook, not a good enough mother, not assertive enough). Sometimes we are even told we’re both at the same time. It is communicated to us, in not so many words, that this state of inner conflict, of doubting yourself as a person, of always falling short or always overshooting the mark, has a name: biblical womanhood.
We find an example of this biblical womanhood in Proverbs 31, which outlines the character and activities (mostly activities; do do do!) of ‘a good wife’. This woman never gets period pain or cusses. Her family’s care is the only thing she’s interested in. She’s deft and wise. A real boon to her husband. She has no opinion, no free time. She’s talented, and busy. Always busy.
She’s not real. At best she’s a caricature, at worst an idol.
So instead of that, or Paul’s little misogynistic benders, I’m going to be a real person. With thoughts and feelings and opinions. With the personality God has given and shaped in me. I’m probably not going to be ‘festooned in praises’, like the Proverbs wife. Instead I’m going to have conversations. I’m going to learn, ask questions, and try to pass along some of that information, to whoever wants or needs it. I’m going to laugh as loudly as I want. No, I probably won’t be seen as mysterious. I’m okay with that. You can’t share in mystery, but you can share in goodness, faith, humour, life.
I’d rather share in what’s real. Wouldn’t you?