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  • Julie Woodley, MA

Joyfully Feminine




To be a girl is a beautiful thing! Glorious, splendid, magical, mystical. If you’re a woman and read those words you may have an anger rise up inside of you. I know I did. Because I was sexually abused, raped, literally tore up emotionally and physically. Honestly, I felt like my whole body, soul, and spirit had been crushed by men. For a while I hated being female. It hurt too much. Being feminine, even having some amount of beauty only bought pain.


This is a common story I hear daily. I (and others) covered up my femininity by gaining weight, because I had this delusional thought that I could hide behind extra weight and then I wouldn’t be noticed anymore. When I was really disgusted with myself I went the other way. I stopped eating. Literally, at 39 years old (after I had had my last child and was quite overweight) I was hit broadsided with an eating disorder. Now, I was heading up a big counseling center in Duluth, MN and had a number of clients that had eating disorders but never did I think I would develop one! My weight started to drop off. I lost 60 pounds in 2 1/2 months. There was a lot of power in losing about a pound a day. I went from a size 12 to a 0. I had been betrayed by some very good friends and didn’t know what to do with all of the pain. I also had not dealt with all of the pain of the past so I was also hit broadsided with depression. I just wanted to disappear. God used this traumatic event in so many ways. He literally brought me angels to hold up my head when I didn’t have the energy to do it myself. These angels were women who showed me that being female is a beautiful gift. They showed me that I had a God in heaven that truly loved the woman I was.

Being a woman in the past had been a source of shame and pain. Even as I looked around the church to women that weren’t abused, all I saw was “tired women”. Women that were sweet, helpful, busy and extremely disciplined to always meet the needs of other’s. Frantically peddling hard to be a great Mom, wife, servant – a Proverbs 31 woman. I was doing the same thing. I began to ask myself the question—"When do these women have time to relax, read, take a hot bath, have holy sex with their husbands?” Yes, I did say sex here. Women that love themselves and their bodies and their husbands truly enjoy sex as a beautiful intimate communication with their beloved.


So, I took a deep breath, pondered what this would look like for me and started loving being the woman God called me to be. The most important thing I did was take time to allow God to meet my suffering. The hurt and betrayal and Glory of God collided. I began to see that the God in heaven was romancing me! He loved who I was as a woman. Soon all of the guilt began to lift. The guilt of getting my hair cut, taking extra time in bubble baths, buying myself a special dress for Easter because I was his bride and I wanted to dress up for God and enjoy being a woman. With this great news, slowly the eating disorder lifted!

I discovered an incredible glorious thing! We women bear God’s image. He put in us desires and dreams and I was not to bury them because I was in the delusion that dreams, desires, goals, and success was only for men. We bear a great glory and we are called God’s beloved. In the movie, The Last of the Mohicans, Nathaniel says to Cora “I will find you, no matter how long it takes, no matter how far-I will find you.” God fights for us and will always find and rescue us—we, YOU are worth fighting for! Your heart is worth fighting for “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23

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