Depth of character in the women of scripture was not a famously taught concept when I was growing up. I have wondered if this was why, for so many years, I related more to men than women since the Bible was the primary source of my educational foundation, having grown up in private Christian schools. The character of the women of scripture was grossly under-interpreted in my spiritual education.
My one-dimensional view of women in scripture made it difficult to see past the surface narratives to the women who were crying out to be known. It was easier to digest a colorful story about David’s courage or Joseph’s hardships and fit myself into that relatable umbrella of the human narrative. But I was curious about these women of scripture and longed to know more of their stories. No matter how much I related to the character flaws or longings of David, Joseph, or Paul, their stories never spoke directly to my feminine experience of imposed servitude, obedience, or the inescapable “role of a woman” that never seemed to fit what I imagined for my life.
As I matured as a woman and in my relationship with Christ, I started to see how beautifully criminal God’s representation of women was in a biblical patriarchal society. I began to realize how cleverly these women’s quiet, yet daring stories were delicately woven into scripture to speak volumes to cultural insiders.
I began to learn more about the vastness of God and saw more of myself in the process.
And I realized that I needed to relearn my ideas of God for myself by seeking out the messages God embedded in the stories of these sidelined matriarchs.
Lingering with each passage, I experienced the men of the stories stepping out of the way, appearing as colleagues rather than the leading roles. I found myself neck deep in each woman’s story, and the revolutionary story of salvation shouted louder and more clearly to me than any passive glance at these subtle characters had ever offered.
I am dangerously ambitious like Eve, and I experience creation alongside a deeply forgiving and patient father.
I have been jealous like Sarah and have felt vindicated like Hagar, knowing firsthand the follow-through of God’s promises.
Like Lot’s wife, I am distrustful of God’s good plans and want my own dreams, having learned that doubting God’s promises leads to consequences.
I have felt chosen like Rebekah but also discarded like Leah.
Like Dinah, I have felt the shame of being violated, and like Tamar, I have felt God stand by me as an advocate when my choices were misjudged.
I have led others down the wrong path like Delilah.
In my prayers, I have wept as I confessed my longings like Hannah, and I have seen the promises of God faithfully fulfilled.
I have lost it all and felt abandoned by God like Naomi and seen firsthand how my suffering has led others to the truth about Christ.
I have felt chosen in spite of my origins, not because of them, like Ruth.
Like Abigail, I have acted boldly on my family and friends’ behalf and exhibited the redemption possible with Christ through reconciliation.
I have known and declared Jesus as God like Mary Magdalene, but only after intense spiritual pain and healing.
I have felt the Holy Spirit flow through me like rivers of living water like the Samaritan woman who ran to tell everyone of the man who told her everything she ever did.
Each of these women is me. I am deeply wounded, yet radically redeemed. When I peeked beneath the veil of these women’s stories in scripture, they led me to the Jesus I always wanted to know more deeply, and I found space to know and understand my own story with Christ more fully.
Amy Altstatt is a faith-driven writer, passionate about women finding their own voice in Scripture and seeing how God reveals His plan and character through women as active participants in the gospel of redemption, freedom, and hope. She is currently writing a book that reexamines how God tells His story through even the most subliminal female characters in scripture. Amy’s websites are: Amyaltstatt.com and https://www.patreon.com/Adrinkofwater?fan_landing=true.