If you’ve spent much time in Christian women’s circles, you may have noticed that we have devoted many gatherings to exploring our identity.
Retreats, conferences and topical Bible studies rush to assure us that we are redeemed and treasured, that our lives have purpose, that our actions carry eternal significance. If we just understood who we are—the message goes—we would turn from our sin patterns and our spiritual low self-esteem and experience the abundant life of which Jesus spoke.
Recently I attended a women’s conference at which this message predictably took center stage. One after another, all three keynote speakers took us to Psalm 139:14 to soothe us when our body image falters, or when we just don’t feel that smart, valuable or capable. We ask it to bolster us when our limits weigh us down. But based on how frequently I hear it offered, I suspect the message may not be “sticking to our ribs” very well.
Why is that?
I believe it is because we have misdiagnosed our primary problem. As long as we keep the emphasis on us instead of on a higher vision, we will take small comfort from discussions of identity—and we will see little lasting change. Our primary problem as Christian women is not that we lack self-worth, not that we lack a sense of significance or purpose. It’s that we lack awe.
Awe and Wonder
On a recent visit to San Francisco, my husband and I had the chance to hike Muir Woods. Walking its paths, we halted, slack-jawed, to gaze up at 250-foot redwoods that had stood since the signing of the Magna Carta. Towering and ancient, they reminded us of our smallness.