I sighed as I grabbed another chair and added it to the stack, glancing as I did so at the group of teens my age that sat laughing together at the other end of the room. They had taken off their shoes and were lounging on the floor while I bagged trash, folded tables, and hoped they would notice me.
Every year, our youth group hosted a banquet for the graduating seniors. Underclassmen were supposed to work the event, arriving early that morning to set up and staying long after everyone else had left to clean. That was exactly what I was doing, but I wasn’t doing it just because I was supposed to. No, I was doing it because he was sitting in that group in the corner.
He was the guy I had a huge, embarrassing crush on. I was there because I deeply hoped he would see me working hard, realize what a great woman I was, and sweep me off my now sore feet. It’s hysterical to remember that now; what high school guy is looking for a hard worker to date? Did I really believe that helping more would make him like me? Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding yes. Yes, I did.
You see, that’s what good Christian girls were supposed to do. They were supposed to work hard so good Christian guys would marry them, so they could be good Christian wives and then one day, be good Christian moms. That was our purpose. At least, that’s what I believed.
Praise God I was wrong.
We Need Purpose
We all need purpose; it tells us who we are and how we’re to live. Purpose propels us, gives our lives meaning, and shapes our decisions. Purpose is important! As a young woman, I longed to know what my purpose was, who God created me to be. So, I read the books, did the Bible studies, and went to the retreats. I attended the conferences, ladies’ events, and talks all about what it meant to be a godly woman, and I hoped that I’d finally understand my purpose. Unfortunately, I wasn’t learning very much about who I was created to be. Instead, I was absorbing a lot about what I was supposed to do.
Have you ever felt that? That our purpose as women of God depends upon doing more or trying harder? Have you ever felt like you had to exhaust yourself to do all the right things and check all the right boxes to succeed at being a godly woman? If you have, you’re not alone. But there is hope!
God’s purpose for you is not to work hard trying to measure up. It’s not to burn yourself out trying to do more in hopes that one day you’ll have done enough. He doesn’t have a checklist for you, and you don’t have to earn more of his love. Our purpose is not even about us at all; it’s about him.
God created us to be image-bearers of himself, and that is the highest purpose of them all.
Made in the Image of God
To be made in the image of God means that he created us with infinite value, dignity, and worth. It means we are his reflections on the earth! He made us to represent him, to display his character, and to fill the earth with his glory; he created us to be imitators of him. But here’s the important part: being made in the image of God is not something we do or earn or even have to work at. It is simply what God has declared to be best.
The problem is that the fall happened, and sin entered the world and distorted the image he created us to bear. Sin, to be clear, is not just something we do or don’t do; it’s a total rejection of God’s authority in our lives. Because of that rejection, we cannot live as imitators of God the way he created us to. Praise God, though, that he didn’t leave us like that! In Christ, the image of God that was distorted by the fall is being restored, and with it, our ability to live our purpose is as well. That’s what Paul is talking about in Colossians 3:10 when he says that in Christ, we have “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its creator.”
Resting in your Purpose
I don’t know about you, but I have spent so much of my life trying to do enough. But the truth is, our purpose as women of God isn’t about what we do-it’s about who God is. Before we did anything, before we earned it in any way, apart from any abilities or actions, God created us as his images on the earth. And though sin damaged our ability to bear his image, in Christ, we are being restored. In him, we can live as the images of God he created us to be. We are exceedingly valuable, not because of what we can bring or contribute, but simply because God has declared that we are.
God created us as images of himself, which means he invited us to draw close to him. Images reflect the thing they are closest to, and so do we. This isn’t another to-do list item, though, or a way to earn his pleasure. No, he has invited us to sit at his feet, rest in his presence, and learn his voice, and as we do that, we will start thinking, acting, and loving like him more. There is so much hope in that. Because of the salvation offered to you through Jesus’ death and resurrection, you don’t have to do more or earn your place as a woman of God. You have a high purpose, a purpose laden with hope and overflowing with freedom. You are an image-bearer of God.
Your friend, Elizabeth
Meet the author: Elizabeth Garn (MA, Reformed Theological Seminary) is a wife, mother, writer, and speaker. When she’s not picking Legos off the floor, she’s leading Bible studies, speaking at conferences, and writing about everyday theology for the lives of women. Her first book Freedom to Flourish: The Rest God Offers in the Purpose He Gives You is available now.
Thank you for writing this vulnerable and highly relatable blog. I agree that it is very easy to fall into the mindset of “What do I need to do?” and trying to follow every rule and expectation, instead of resting and trusting that God has a plan and will make a way. Growing up, before I had a true relationship with God, I would read the Bible just to figure out what was right, what was wrong, what to do, and what to stay away from- and it was exhausting. Thank you for these truths and encouragements. Do you think that many women fall into the trap of not feeling “good enough” or feel the need to fulfill certain expectations because of our current culture and society?
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