Does God Care About My Gender?

By Laney Wootten

 
Even as a little girl, I was competitive.  Nothing “lit” my fire quicker than to have all odds against me, beat those odds and WIN.  Tell me I can’t do it, and I’ll prove to you that I can.  Throw a little gender tension in there and you’d really hear me roar. The first ball team I ever played on was an all boys team.  My coach (a family friend) frequently retells that I’m the only player he ever had that made a triple play; a prideful smirk still turns up the corner of my mouth as I remember it.  As a six year old, my mantra was, “anything you can do, I can do better.”

Move forward to middle school. You’d find me and a boy in P.E. the last ones standing in the flag game Survivor with our classmates “epic-ly” cheering from the sidelines. Every now and then I’d be the last one standing and the victory march would go on for months in my heart.  Yes, the weaker sex did indeed bring you to your knees begging for mercy!  I had a love/hate relationship with these gender odds against me.

Don’t you dare tell me I can’t do something because I’m a girl; yet, tell me I can’t just so I can prove that I can!

Laney at BelcherMove forward several years and there I was: high heels, high powered position, and telling men what to do.  I sang on a stage in front of thousands of people and was living out my dream. I did it!  In my hands I held the trophy for my gender that I had long been fighting for.

This seed of competition grew.

I watered and cared for it unknowingly for years until that seedling sprouted into a tree so out of control that if I didn’t cut it down, would come crashing down right on top of me.

It reared its ugly head in my marriage.  It poisoned my ministry.  It dulled and diluted my nurturing in the early years of motherhood.  I had become so bent on proving to a “man’s world” that a woman could do anything, that I suffocated the REAL woman inside of me: the woman who desperately wanted to be led and not lead, the woman who wanted children and actually wanted to be at home with them. Why was I fighting this?  Where was all this resistance coming from?  I was so confused.

I would blame the guilt I felt for leaving my children with my then “stay at home husband” on traditional gender stereotypes, grit my teeth, and move forward.  I mean, if I quit my job, my kids wouldn’t have a quality life—not to mention that quitting would be the ultimate display of defeat.  My husband couldn’t make near the salary that I made (one more medal for women that I proudly wore in my heart).

Yes, I’m doing the right thing!  Even though I don’t see my kids much, they’ll appreciate the sacrifice I made for them one day.  But why does my heart ache like I have never felt it ache before when my daughter cries in the driveway as I pull away for work?

So there I was, unhappy, confused and at a crucial intersection in my life. But that suffocating woman inside of me gave one more desperate cry for help before I squeezed the last bit of life out of her.

I finally heard it.

Everything became so clear.  What was I doing?  Where was I heading?  How did I get here?  My children were growing in fast forward and I was on a completely different channel.  My husband was floundering, unhappy, shriveling. It was very clear. There was only one thing to do:

I quit.  

Yes, I hung up those high heels, walked away from my dream job and began my journey to COMPLETELY surrendering my womanhood to GOD’S design.

woottensIt’s been nearly three years since that day. We make less than half of the money we use to, I know physical exhaustion like never before and I am the happiest woman I have ever been. My husband knows who he is and leads me.  Submission is no longer a cuss word in my mind but rather a word that triggers fond feelings of chivalrous affection.  My children know that I am theirs and they are mine and there is no question of who will be the one to take care of them on a daily basis-which I’ve found to be crucial in these early years of their lives. There is security, clarity, and peace…for ALL of us.  This fruit fell from the tree of surrender—complete surrender to GOD’S design.  Is it easy?  Oh, it is so hard…harder than any job I have ever held.  Do I miss my job?  Yes.  Do I still find myself resisting Biblical womanhood?  Every. Single. Day.

Which leads me to this: Gender roles and identity must have their backbone in the teachings presented in the Bible.  My human desires lead to death, but God always leads me to life and peace (Romans 8:6-11).  I have to realize that I, in my natural state, am hostile to God and His ways.  This is why I cannot ultimately trust my desires.  We have to have something concrete, because we are fluid. Our desires, our sexuality, even our physical state… all of it changes.  Gender goes way beyond a physical and psychological stamping.  I believe gender roles and identity are ultimately something we are taught.  We learn from the Creator, through His Word, who we are as men and women.

Why does Titus 2:1-8 talk about men and women young and old alike having to be TAUGHT how to be men and women?  Because we must be taught!  Yes, there are DNA embedded gender desires and tendencies, but isn’t all DNA somewhat imperfect since the fall of man?  This is why we need a guide.  Our sinful hearts always drift AWAY from God, never toward Him.  Every day “Miss Independence” arm wrestles “being busy at home” and “loving my husband and children”….and don’t even mention being “kind”, “self-controlled and pure.”  My lands…the struggle is real, people.

Yep, the struggle IS real.  It’s real for all of us and in so many ways, not just gender identity.  So my question for you is this:

Will you stop fighting the One who made you and knows you better than you think you know yourself?

Sometimes you DO have “to know when to fold ‘em.”  And in this case, it’s time to fold ‘em.  In fact, it’s always time when it comes to God’s will.

“Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker…Does the clay say to the potter, “What are you making?” (Isaiah 45:9).

His ways and His thoughts are so much higher than our own (Isaiah 55:9) and His love is deeper than we can fathom (Ephesians 3:17-19).

When I lived as a very confused woman tangled up in the cords of feminism and cultural norms, He loved me.  When I surrendered my gender identity/role completely to His will, He loved me.  And He loves you, my dear one.  He loves you enough to hand you a bright light of truth in your darkness. A light that will bring more fulfillment to you than any “light” you may think you hold in your hands.  He loves you enough to take you in as confused and belligerent as you may be.  He loves you.  Hear my humble plea precious soul; find your identity as you lay yourself down on His altar and a new and much happier you is resurrected.

My name is Laney.  I am a woman and this is MY story.

About Laney Wootten

Laney Wootten is a wife and mother of three. She is a singer/songwriter, recording artist, and worship leader residing in East Texas. Check out her family’s vlog on www.youtube.com/thewoottens.