I am in the process of reading Ruby Slippers by Jonalyn Grace Fincher. The book so far is insightful and intriguing. I was most fascinated by the introductory chapter, which delves into the dilemma of the “corsets” that we wear.
We all wear corsets. We often layer them, multiplying their effect, tightening the cords around our soul, until we look culturally appealing, Christianly appropriate, and feel wretchedly uncomfortable.
As I read this, I had to meditate on my own life. Jonalyn lists corsets that women may wear: the single corset, the sexy corset, the mother corset, the Christian wife corset, the working wife corset, and the list goes on. There are certain roles that others expect me to fulfill…the submissive wife, the doting mother, the office woman, the academic, etc. These areas are not wrong, actually quite the opposite. The Bible commands me to be a loving and submissive wife and a good mother. Where we have seemed to miss it, is that we put on the “corset” to fit the given role because it is expected of us. We act a certain way and even speak in the tone that is expected in that role. We reduce ourselves to “act the part”. What we are actually doing is suffocating our souls.
Before God made me a wife or a working woman/college student, He made me a living soul, a female soul. In discovering who I am in Christ, I am made free and able to more completely fulfill the responsibilities He has given me. God created me with a personality, with certain gifts and talents. So why am I content to simply wear the corsets that are assigned to me? Why are we all content to suffocate our souls?
I do not believe Jonalyn is advocating a woman (or man) freeing herself (or himself) of the commands that God has set forth. Rather I believe we have gotten our priorities skewed. My primary responsibility as a child of God is to discover who He made me to be, and then I am able to filfill the secondary responsibilities. Rather than stuffing my soul into the wife corset, I am now able to be the wife God intends me to be. Rather than tightening the cords to fit others’ expectations, I am free to live as Christ intends me to be. Layering corsets stifles the soul, but Christ gives us the freedom to live as He designed us: as female (or male) souls.