There’s a scene in the movie the Holiday where Arthur (my favorite character) tells Iris (Kate Winslet’s character) that she is supposed to be the leading lady in the-holidayher own life but that for some reason, she behaves like she’s the supporting role.
While I’ve always appreciated the scene in the movie, I had never realized how applicable it was in my own life.
Some people have a “Savior Complex.” I am the opposite of that. I think I have actually gone through life with a “Damsel in Distress Complex.” I have spent a lot of my life waiting for something or someone to save me from my problems. Ultimately I found the answer to that in Jesus Christ. We are all a Damsel in Distress and Jesus is the Hero who has come to save us from ourselves by dying on the cross as our atonement, and rising again to give us new life in restored relationship with God.
However, I think I have still gone through life with this Damsel in distress posture and I have looked for other things to be my Savior, always feeling in need of a hero.
Although I didn’t want to admit it at the time, I went into marriage with this posture as well. I hoped that a husband would solve something deep inside of me that would make me feel fulfilled in a certain way or feel saved from different things that I struggled with in my life. As a matter of fact, I did that even before marriage. I believed that my worth was to be found in what others thought of me, and that it was specifically contingent upon whether or not men liked me. If I’m brutally honest, I think I bought this idea that my main purpose in life was to get married and have babies one day and therefore my constant goal to strive for was to find a man to marry me. I lived in bondage for so many years trying to get men’s attention, try to make someone like me (desperately hoping that they would love me) and hope I was enough to keep their attention and hold their loyalty. I wanted so deeply to be accepted and loved as I was but that was very difficult in a such a competitive world of beauty. I had been cheated on several times and (without going into detail) was assaulted, demeaned, and taken advantage of in several situations. The saddest part, perhaps, is that I thought for a long time that it was OK. I just thought that is how it is. I thought it was just how life is and how men are. And unfortunately, this is a fact of life for most women I know. What I took from these experiences were lies that I fell short in different areas, that I needed to keep trying harder, and that my hope was that one day I would find a man who feared God enough to treat me well and be faithful to me forever.
I am married to an incredibly decent man. A strong man of integrity who loves the Lord with all his heart and loves me sacrificially as well. But I have seen my tendency to look to him to heal my wounds from the past and to correct these lies that I have believed for so long. When he seems to do this, I cling to him and try to cruise control on the temporary relief that I feel. When his humanity shows, I get angry, hurt, wound him with words and want to run and self protect.
This is not healthy and I have come to realize that in order to find true freedom in Christ from this baggage that I carry, I need to actually press into what God says about Himself and then about myself, and then I need to actually walk forward in that. I am not responsible for what has been done against me by others, but I am fully responsible for what I choose to believe about Who God is and who I am in Him. I am fully responsible for the way that I live and the message that I give to my children and to the world around me.
If I buy into this idea that I am not enough and that I am unworthy, and if I continue to look for affirmation in what I look like or try to be what I think people want, I am contributing to the problem. I am letting the message continue to be spread about the role that women play in humanity.
Recently I have come to realize that, in Christ, I have had the resources to be fulfilled completely, to be secure as a daughter of God, to not need to be saved anymore. This whole time! I have had access to this, my ENTIRE believing life. I have the resources to be a strong woman. I do not need to be this damsel in distress anymore.
Although the gospel highlights the fact that we are all in distress and in need of a Savior, part of the good news in the redemption and restoration that comes through Jesus is that once we have believed in Him and start following Him with our lives, we have the opportunity to be the heroine alongside of Him! I mean really, that just blows my mind.
Whether my husband is being a loving, adoring husband and making me feel beautiful and captivating and cared for or whether he is letting me down (like all humans will do), I still have that access to the cross that grants me the role to be a co-heir with Christ. Whether the world around me is making me feel valued and accepted and seen and heard or whether it is pushing me down and telling me to shut up and look pretty, I still have that access to the cross that grants me the role to be a co-heir with Jesus Christ. I can join Him on this mission – going and saving. I don’t have to live like I’m in trouble anymore. I don’t have to be the weak woman waiting for help. I can be the strong woman going out and serving and giving and shining light and freedom into a dark world.
And this has been monumental for me lately. This idea that I am who God wanted me to be. I am the woman that God created me to be. I look exactly like the woman that He wanted me to look like. I have the heart that He wanted me to have. I have the exact personality and the giftings that He wanted me to have. My sin and my selfishness made me stray from Him, but He saved me from that. So now I don’t have to lag behind and wait anymore. I can go and pursue and serve and be strong and confident in Him and who He designed me to be. I don’t have to be threatened by what other’s think of me and I don’t have to question myself when the world tells me to sit on a shelf and smile. When I sin, I am forgiven. When others sin against me, I can forgive them. And I don’t have to stop being me when that happens. I can be broken and yet beautiful because He brings beauty from ashes. I can limp but still walk (Jesus has a history of making this happen). I can hurt but still heal. I can be corrected when needed, repent when necessary (often) and yet still move forward, un-paralyzed.
I can give my daughter a different example. I can show her that we, beautifully feminine as He has created us to be in His image, do not have to live like princesses locked up in a tower waiting for someone or something to save us.
Lindsay Fauver Photography
Lindsay Fauver Photography
Instead I can give her an example of a strong, assured woman who is so secure in her identity in Jesus and her value.
The moment that my little body was being formed in my mother’s womb, I was already given such high value that God placed the life of His only Son on the cross to make me His. I am so valuable to the Creator of the Universe. Riley has such high value to the Creator of the Universe. I want to show my daughter an example of a woman who lives freely as herself, believing in her value as I serve, day in and day out.
I don’t have to live for the approval of others. Or for who the world says I should be as a woman. I don’t have to look to these things to ascribe any sort of worth to myself.
I have worth simply in being myself.
Because I am His.
I can go through my day confident in that.
I don’t exist to be a chameleon – changing my colors to be who I think others are expecting or hoping for me to be. I don’t exist to be an object, a trophy, a robot or a doormat. I exist to enjoy God and glorify Him forever and a large part of that is to be me and let it reveal to others something about Himself.
The fact that I am a woman does not make me any weaker than anyone else or any weaker than a man to run and be a part of the race, to partner with Jesus in the redemption and restoration of His people and of the world that He created.
As a matter of fact, part of my worth is in my gender. It is in my femininity. He has chosen women to show Himself. We reflect a part of His image, reveal a part of His character and personality and to be on mission with Him to draw the world to Himself.
It is such an honor and such a tremendous pleasure to be a part of that.
Ladies – the world in its darkness tells us that we exist for the enjoyment or preferences of others. Specifically that we exist for the pleasure of men. Unfortunately the President of our country endorses that belief. But a huge part of what I’m learning lately is that I exist for God and His pleasure alone and that is an empowering truth. I’m learning that even if we are mistreated and victimized by the world around us and the largely held cultural view of women, we don’t have to buy that narrative and follow it’s map. We can show the world something different. I can show my children something different. We have the choice and the ability to live as free women who have utmost worth and value.
I am learning to more deeply surrender my story to God and to grow into the leading lady that He wants me to be. I believe that when we can learn how to be confident leading ladies in our own stories, then we can more fully and wholeheartedly serve as the supporting role in the stories of those around us.