As a child, I never liked being a girl. The boys did all the fun stuff. Girl things were boring. I wanted to be in Cub Scouts. They went camping, learned about knives, and did all sorts of interesting things. But since I was a girl, I had to be in Brownies, wear a dress, and do crafts. I quit after a few months of boredom and discontentment.
A few years later, I found it unfair that my younger brother was allowed to have a job at a nearby dairy before I was allowed to have one. The farmers from our church had chosen him to help them milk, knowing we lived nearby. It wasn’t fair that they chose him and not me. Later, he got into calf roping, something girls at that time were not allowed to do in Tennessee. I made a plan to wrap my chest tightly, hide my long hair in a cap, chew tobacco, and do it anyway. I threw up the first time I tried the tobacco and decided the whole thing was just too much trouble, but never did get over the unfairness of it all.
I left home and went west to pursue my dream of being a working cowboy. I wouldn’t call myself a ‘cowgirl’ because that invoked images of barrel racing and other rodeo activities, which seemed like foolishness to me. I was a REAL cowboy, spending hours in the saddle every day breaking horses and caring for cattle, often having to rope them to load them in a trailer or doctor them. It was a dangerous job and I got many injuries and a few near death experiences, but I loved it and was happy for the most part.
I never understood women whose dream in life was to marry and raise children. I was quickly bored with women’s conversations and found myself either drifting to what the men were saying or just going off in my mind to something interesting. I never fit in anywhere I went because the men were men, the women were women, and I was a woman by gender but a man by occupation and interest. And though I was lonely in that regard, I had become quite famous in the cowboy and ranching circles for the job I did. I even worked on ranches that had never hired a woman in their long history.
But my Father was watching me, watching the pride and self-focus grow, knowing that shortly I would have a great fall and would only have Him to turn to. When He allowed that to happen, my whole life changed. I lost most of what I had worked for all my life: happiness, reputation, life on the range, cattle, horses, and everything that goes with that. I was in a pit and had nowhere to look but up. I cried out to Him, knowing that He was all that could save me.
I went from never wanting children, to wanting Him to be in control of all areas of my life. I immediately became pregnant with my first child at age 32. We moved east, away from the life that had consumed me and I spent my hours and days trying my hand at homemaking. Though I found that life difficult in many ways, I had much more peace and joy than I ever did in my happy, selfcentered life. Because I had spent my years training myself in the things of cowboy ways and animal husbandry, I knew very little about how to run a home. And having no one to teach me, learning was slow and often painful.
Abba continued to bless me by giving us a child about every year and a half, bringing our current total to eight. When the oldest girl was five, I began wearing dresses and having the girls wear them so they would get used to it while they were still little. We wanted them to learn the importance of looking and acting like ladies in a world that promotes everyone being the same. I began training them at a young age to prepare food and do other household chores so they wouldn’t be clueless like I was when it came time for them to have their own home. The oldest is now twelve and can cook and take care of babies better than I could in my late 30’s. Her transition to married life will be so much easier and more natural than mine was.
I cannot deny the excitement that accompanied me in my former way of life. But it could never surpass the peace and joy that I have in this one. Though I still feel like a fish out of water doing many things that are traditionally thought of as ‘women’s work’, I know that is what I was designed for. I know that because the scriptures give us a good picture of how our Creator planned for men and women to live. Learning to submit to a man is much more difficult after a woman has been off working like a man and being an authority over them. Marriage is distorted and things are out of place in every instance I have ever known where that was the case. My daughters are being raised to respect their daddy in preparation for respecting their husbands. I pray they will be bounds ahead of me in all areas of womanhood.
I still feel more confident and prettier in jeans, but wear dresses partly because of former issues of pride and vanity. I’d still rather clean the barn than clean the house. I’d still rather milk the cow than make the cheese. I still feel more comfortable in a tent than in a house (and in fact, delivered our last baby in one). But the peace and joy in my life comes from learning to die to self and live for YHWH (the LORD). He’s shown me that I can’t do that when I’m stepping out of the role that He created for me in order to do what I want to, what gets me attention, or what seems fun for me. And I’ve learned that when I lean those directions, I can cause myself much pain. It’s better to be under His wings in the place He has prepared for me than to be out on my own doing what looks on the surface to be the fun and exciting thing.
I’d like to end this article by saying that I’m an accomplished wife and mother who totally embraces womanhood, but I would be lying. I have to end by saying that I’m a work in progress, praying that the things I’ve learned the hard way will be avoided by some because of my testimony.
Being molded into womanhood …