Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tennis Shoes and Velvet

The other day as my kids romped at the playground, I noticed a little girl having a grand time. I couldn't help but smile to myself when I saw her outfit. She proudly wore a beautiful burgundy velvet dress that complimented her straight, dark hair. Admittedly, several years ago I would have wondered why a mother would allow her daughter to play at the park in dress clothes. Two daughters later, I have accepted (notice I did not say understand!) that velvet and monkey bars go together in the mind of many little girls. This little girl completed her ensemble with what looked like some very comfortable (and well-worn) tennis shoes.

"What a picture," I thought. What a perfect visual of what I often feel battles within myself -- the war between feminine princess and strong woman. I'm not sure why or how, in my mind, the two became mutually exclusive, that I have to choose between between them. That embracing femininity means accepting weakness, brushing up on swooning, and abandoning activities I enjoy. Afterall how many princesses do you see swinging a hammer or appreciating classic cars? Can tool belts and china tea cups really live harmoniously side by side?

Studying Esther has revealed that she was a very strong woman but that did not detract from her femininity. If anything, the two complimented each other. Maybe that is why I've always loved her story. She's been one of my heros since I was a kid.

After watching the tyke at the park, I came home and reread Proverbs 31, trying to put words to the visual her outfit provided. Usually reading about the Proverbs superwoman brings out the Martha Stewart in me and I go overboard striving to do it all. But this time, I was able to overlook all of her accomplishments and focus on verse 25a. "She is clothed in strength and dignity..." That's it! It answers the dilemma I've struggled with for ages. It's strength and femininity rolled into one. It excuses any juxtaposition between pounding nails and high tea. It embraces every thread of variety that God wove together to make woman in His image. It's tennis shoes and velvet.

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