Fearfully & Wonderfully Made

Psalm 139 (NIV)

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

1 You have searched me, Lord,   and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,  your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;  the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;  all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
I must confess that the my evolved understanding of  Psalms 139:14 only came after I saw it on a list of scriptures that were empowering to women. Although it immediately caught my eye for its popularity, it also made me confront an uncomfortable reality. As a man, I had never bothered to consider what this scripture might mean to a woman. What happens when women see themselves the way God sees them and not the way men see them? What would it mean for men to see women the way God sees women?
Unfortunately so much of the paradigms, roles, characteristics, and attributes assigned to women and things feminine in society are largely based on male assumptions and labeling. We live in a world where woman are rarely allowed to function as if they are “fearfully and wonderfully made” as wonderful works of God. They are rarely treated as if all the days ordained for them were written in God’s book. As a society, we really need to expand our perceptions of women beyond their relations to men.
I’ve often heard men say women weren’t created to be men as if that was their problem or burden to bear. However, in Genesis 2:18, it says “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” Women and the femininity they bring to society exist because God apparently felt that masculinity was not fit to stand alone. As we pause to celebrate women, let us all strive to create a society where women are valued not for their ability to be masculine or fit into masculine paradigms but for  their full femininity in whatever fashion they choose to express it. Let us push for a society where housework, childcare, teaching, and nurturing are given the same monetary respect as banking, law, and medicine. A society where tangerine and fuschia will be considered business power colors like navy blue. A world where all of God’s creatures are treated as if they are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Cecil Lettsome

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