Growing up in a house full of boys, I learned a thing or two about proving myself. The youngest of three; the only girl. There was a lot of proving ground for me because I could not play the game until I showed I was a competitor and a force to be reckoned with. I had to prove that I was a valuable asset, worth something to the endeavor at hand, before I would be dealt in, picked, or trusted to carry the ball. I had to show that even though I was different (a girl), I had a lot to offer and could keep up.
I could throw a fastball that would make your hand sting. I could shoot a gun and cast a rod. I outscored, outplayed, outran, and outperformed desperately trying to show that I could do it. I was worthy.
And there were still many times, with a terrible sting, that the answer remained the same: you simply can’t. Despite your strength, despite your energy, despite your contribution and your commitment and your persistent begging, you just can’t. You can’t…because these things, they are for the boys. We have something slightly different for you, slightly less.
That temptation to prove myself is instinct, I guess. I don’t know whether it’s just me, having grown up in testosterone land, but I suspect the same holds true for countless others. That instinct kicked in hard when I opened God’s book and saw those phrases that had the same sting of something lesser. They are littered throughout the text, and they come back to the same message: “They will be called sons of God.” Sons.
Some translators change these verses to “children” of God or “sons and daughters.” They understand that times were different when these words were written; women were submissive. Their role in society was different, and we’re more “progressive” now. But that doesn’t always take away the sting of reading those words. Sons of God.
That sting has driven me often to prove myself. That sting has echoed off the walls of my head that I must be something lesser because I could never be a son. Work hard, study hard, pray hard and perhaps He would make me an honorary son. Perhaps He would change the definition of son as the translators have and include all of His children. I don’t want to play in God’s lassie league. Put me in the big game; put me on the field with anyone, and I will measure up.
It is agonizing to yearn for the blessings that God says He bestows upon His sons, agonizing to long to be one of those fathers of the faith and strong examples that people tend to look to. When in agony, pursue.
Instinct led me to pursue God and find a way to be His son. Had I succeeded, and perhaps at some point I momentarily had, I would have been left with something lesser than I thought I wanted. Chasing what I thought best, desperately trying to prove my worth and show my asset and demonstrate that I could keep up and be a force to be reckoned with, He had something entirely different for me that I was liable to miss.
There’s a tenderness creeping up in me that I cannot ignore. It casts out that desire to prove myself. It throws aside the things I very well could be…that I was never called to be. Instead, I am replaced by a quiet spirit (and yeah, I am totally still trying to adjust to that), graciousness, tenderness, gentleness, peace, and an oddly unshakable faith that is characteristic of that softer side. It is a faith that does not use force to defend itself. It is a faith that is not loud, not always trying to prove. It is a faith that simply is. Because in full acknowledgement of my unworthiness, God has continued to say I am worth it. I am worthy.
It is a new standard, something that has required a tremendous sacrifice and personal shift for me. It is something that seems so backward from what I knew. I used to think it would be so much less, but it is indescribably more.
So a new word echoes through the depths of my heart, one that brings a simple satisfaction and a strong peace, one that means more to me than ever “son of God” could, no matter how hard I worked to get there or how much I struggled to prove myself.
It is a word that purely reflects what He has for me, what He has always had for me.
It is a word used only a handful of times throughout His word, but it is there.
That word is “daughter.”