I read these beautiful words, “quintessentially feminine” in Song of Songs (The Message) and was arrested by them. What does it mean to be feminine? I don’t mean feminine according to society’s standards but rather what is quintessentially feminine. It means the perfect embodiment of who God originally created us to be. It is who we are in our purest form. Instead of looking around us to see what other women are doing to find our standard, we should be looking at the plumb line of God’s Word or even at our inherent inclinations which God has divinely put within us.
One of the most beautiful aspects of femininity is pregnancy. The pregnant figure is beautiful. In this awesome time of a woman’s life, she has the privilege of housing and growing a new life, a life that will not only be born into this world, but an eternal soul that will live forever. Absolutely nothing in this world is more powerful than nurturing an eternal soul. This season of a woman’s life is only for a certain time. It is her time of visitation which is only about 20 plus years of her whole life, not many years when you consider that most women live into their eighties and nineties today. It is the privileged time of a woman’s life when she can be visited by God to conceive life.
Every conception discloses a visitation of God. Mere man cannot give conception. After Hannah dedicated her firstborn Samuel to God and took him to live at the temple, God “visited” her five more times and gave her five more children (1 Samuel 2:21). Genesis 21:1 also tells us how God “visited” Sarah and she conceived.
There are only two kinds of human beings in this world—a man without a womb, the male; and a man with a womb, the woman. The womb is distinctive to God’s female creation.1 To embrace our womb is to embrace who we are; to reject the function of the womb is to not only reject the true essence of femaleness, but to reject our Creator who designed us. Does the handicraft disown its Craftsman? Isaiah 29:16 (RSV) says, “You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay; and the thing made should say of its maker, ‘He did not make me’; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, ‘He has no understanding’?” Have we become so shaped by a godless society that we no longer understand who we are? What perversity!2
To reject motherhood is to reject the
transcendence of our femaleness.
Motherhood is also part of our innate femininity. Noah Webster’s 1928 dictionary describes quintessential as “the highest essence of power in a natural body.” Motherhood is primal, powerful, protecting and permeating--not only in our children’s lives but in all of society.
Motherhood is not something we perform at a certain time of our life. Motherhood is who we are as a female. When we reject mothering, we reject who God created us to be. The desire to nurture is divinely inherent in every woman, even those who seemingly reject motherhood. Those who refuse to embrace children into their arms will usually have a cat or a dog, which they nurture like a human baby!
To embrace motherhood is to embrace quintessential femininity. Motherhood is the highest career in the nation. It is a divine mandate. It is the glory of the nation. We read in Hosea 9:11 how God told Ephraim that He would take away their “glory” as punishment for their sins. What was their glory? Conception, pregnancy and birth!
Not only is motherhood innately within us, but it reveals the nature of God. One of the names of God is El Shaddai which reveals God as a nursing mother. Motherhood is not something we “have to do” but it is the revelation of the nurturing heart of God. Webster (1913) describes quintessence as “an extract from anything, containing its rarest virtue, or most subtle and essential constituent in a small quantity.” We are not El Shaddai, but a little “shad” revealing to the world the rarest virtue of motherhood. When we embrace and live in the glory of motherhood, we show to the world what God is like. When we reject motherhood, we deprive the world of seeing this characteristic of God.
There are some women who cannot conceive naturally. Are they denied motherhood? No. When a woman expresses her nurturing instinct to mother the hurting and needy, the elderly, the orphans and widows, or even to adopt a child, she finds her fulfillment in mothering. The most renowned mother of our last century was Mother Theresa, a woman who never birthed children, but she was the greatest example of motherhood as she poured out her life for the downtrodden.
There are some mothers who deny themselves the privilege and joy of nursing their own baby, and yet this is primal and quintessential to being female.3 The Bible tells us that “Even jackals offer the breast, they nurse their young; but the daughter of my people has become cruel like ostriches in the wilderness” (Lamentations 4:3).4
The ultimate quintessence of motherhood is the
revelation of God’s maternal heart to the world.
We find that our daughters naturally behave femininely. They haven’t yet been conditioned by society. They love to mother. That’s all the want to be when they grow up, until society re-programs their brains. They love babies. They love to dress like princesses, which is another area of our femininity we have lost.
As we look around today we see most women in the uniform of the day—jeans and top. I am not into legality and would not say that you should not wear the “uniform” but does it really convey who we are? When my little granddaughters go to my dress-up box, what do they want to wear? Each one of them wants to be a princess. They look for the princess dresses, and if there are not enough to go around, they create them out of sheets and old curtains! I have never noticed that they want to dress up in a business suit!
One of my Above Rubies helpers shared with me that she and her sister sewed civil war time dresses with hooped skirts for a historical fair they were attending. They had to run some errands, and rather than changing into street clothes, decided to wear their dresses. They were amazed that in every store, both workers and shoppers, stopped to exclaim, “Oh you look so beautiful!” or “What beautiful dresses!”
I was thinking about this when traveling some time back. Delayed in a long line at an airport, I decided to look around for beautiful women. Every woman wore the “uniform” but I spotted one lady who stood out from everyone else. She was dressed in a flowing apricot-colored sari with scarves flowing around her. She looked gloriously feminine and I feasted my eyes upon her as I waited. How sad that we have degenerated so far from our intrinsic femininity that we can only wear a dress that makes us feel like a princess or a queen if we “dress up in a costume!”
I believe a woman also reveals her femininity in her home. This is the domain that God has planned for women--to make her home a restful place where God’s presence dwells, to raise and nurture her children, to create a delightful atmosphere her children will remember into the next generation, and to be a successful home-maker and gardener. Proverbs 24:15 calls the home a “resting place.”
Hosea 11:11 (Knox trans.) says, “In their own home, says the Lord, I will give them rest.” It is easy for a woman to lose her femininity when she works in the secular world, but she can also lose her rest. When we lose the anointing of rest upon our lives, we need to get back into the home.
In the home a woman can also bask in the provision and leadership of her husband. She loses her femininity, her grace and her peace when she rules her husband.A truly feminine woman trusts in her husband’s provision and authority. This does not mean that she is a doormat. God has given to the woman a sphere of leadership, not to rule over her husband, but to govern the affairs of her home (1 Timothy 5:14). It is her prerogative to efficiently administrate her home and garden. This is not an insignificant task. It is a full time career, especially as God blesses the couple with more children.
It is not just loving our children,
but loving and embracing the role of motherhood
that releases us into the joy and glory of our divine career.
Gentleness and meekness are also the inner essence of being female. 1 Peter 3:3-4 (Williams) says, “Your adornments… must be of an internal nature, the character concealed in the heart, in the imperishable quality of a quiet and gentle spirit, which is of great value in the sight of God.” These qualities in a female are very precious to the heart of God, and to husbands. In fact, they are a woman’s charm. They are called an “unfading charm” in the Amplified Version. Is it weak to have a gentle and quiet spirit? No. It is a woman of strength who keeps a gentle spirit in the face of harshness and rebuke. It is a strong woman who keeps an even temper when she feels overwhelmed and angry. Have you tried being meek for a week? This is certainly not a challenge for the weak!
The anointing of gentleness on a mother is beautiful to behold. Motherhood is equated with gentleness. And yet it is more. Just as Jesus was revealed as both a Lamb and a Lion, so too, God has put within the woman a gentle anointing, but also a “lion-like” spirit which rises up to protect her children, or to resist the enemy that would come to attack her marriage or home (Revelation 5:2-6).
This “quiet and gentle” spirit is also revealed in our speech. Soft and gentle words exemplify femininity. Sweet words are becoming to a woman. If I start to get on my “high horse” my husband will say to me, “Nancy, you’ve got to be sweet to me.” Oh my! I don’t have a chance to get harsh! Sweet words endear us to our husband. Sweet words bless our children. Sweet words personify our femaleness. Shakespeare’s famous words are apt for us: "Her voice was ever soft, gentle and low, an excellent thing in woman." Solomon, speaking to his bride in Song of Songs 4:11 says, “Your lips, my bride, drip honey; honey and milk are under your tongue.” Could your husband testify that every time you open your mouth sweet words drip from your lips?
In Song of Songs chapter 7 (The Message), the Bridegroom is overcome as he admires every part of his bride. And then to describe her completely he exclaims, “Quintessentially Feminine.” He cannot think of greater praise. We have come so far from God’s original intent for us, His female creation. Can we allow God to work in our lives to bring us back, little by little, to the original glory He planned for us? Can we no longer measure our lives by the world around us but by God’s original design?
- Go to Protect Your Womb. This is an important document which every woman should read.
- The Hebrew word for “you turn things upside down” or “you turn things around” is hophek and means “perversity!” Read also Isaiah 45:9-10; 64:8 and Romans 9:19-21.
- To read more about the blessings of embracing motherhood and femininity go to: Preserved Through Motherhood
- See also Job 39:14-17 and Isaiah 49:15.