I had never thought of Him that way before. As I stared out the window at the open sky, the way I always did while I prayed, I felt Christ’s presence near me. I imagined staring directly into His eyes, and His gaze was so loving, so gentle, so intimate that it seemed…romantic.
I blushed. Did people talk about Jesus that way? Something about the thought seemed at home in my heart, as though it had always been there, waiting to surface. And I soon found out that I was being swept up in a divine romance that had begun centuries before I was born.
Christ is the Bridegroom to each and every soul, but it is women to whom He has especially entrusted to reveal this relationship. Our bodies and our hearts are made to reveal the human soul as bride and Christ as the Bridegroom in a way that men’s are not.
Both men and women reveal God’s heart, but in different ways. Masculinity is generative, meaning men are primarily called to self-emptying sacrifice. Femininity, on the other hand, is receptive, meaning women are primarily called to selfless embrace and nurturing. Through femininity, women reveal a God who weds Himself to His Church in order to bring new life.
Few discoveries have brought me a joy like this. For years, I had been searching for the meaning and the purpose of femininity. As a kid, I thought, “How can both men and women be in the image of God? We don’t look the same!” Part of me started to worry that only men truly had that privilege and that I, being a girl, would never find my place in God’s plan or in the Church.
I had been told about Christ the Lord, the Savior, the Friend, and the Teacher, but it wasn’t until I met Christ as the Bridegroom that I knew I had found my place. I looked for further answers in books, in Scripture, in prayer, and for the first time I felt like I understood the One to whom I was speaking, and I understood whom He saw when He spoke to me.
I Am My Beloved’s
One of my favorite books of the Bible is the Song of Songs, also called the Song of Solomon, a love poem commonly interpreted to be a metaphor about the love between Christ and His Church. In the poem, the man (Christ) sings to the woman (the Church) like this:
“Arise, my love, my fair one,
and come away!
For now the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone. […]
O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
In the covert of the cliff,
Let me see your face,
Let me hear your voice;
for your voice is sweet
and your face is lovely.” (Sg 2:10-11, 14)
As the poem continues, the woman sings in response:
“My beloved is mine and I am his;
he pastures his flock among the lilies.
Until the day breathes and the shadows flee,
Turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle!” (Sg. 2:16-17)
When I first discovered this passage, I read it almost every day, and. I still return to it whenever I need reminding of Christ’s devotion to me and to His Church.When I’m doubting and afraid, these verses assure me that belonging to Christ is not simply a saying or an abstract idea; it is a reality more intimate to me than my own breath. This passage gives me the confidence to ask Him to stay close until “the shadows flee.”
The Song of Songs has become one my favorite books of the Bible because it so clearly illustrates both the beauty of masculinity and femininity and the intimate love between Christ and His Church. That intimacy belongs to each and every member of the Church and God has entrusted that mystery, in a special way, to women.
The Gift of Femininity
Ultimately, the gift of femininity is the gift of embrace. In her book on the feminine genius, Katrina Zeno says that the secret to understanding femininity is that the female anatomy is literally designed with an empty space that is waiting for another life; the female heart is no different.
Our hearts, like our bodies, are designed and waiting for a life to nurture. We are designed to embrace each life we come across — to take that soul into our hearts, to embrace it exactly as it is, and to treat it with love and reverence.
God’s Heart is waiting, too. His Heart is waiting, longing to embrace us just as we are, ready to love us. This is the mystery that a woman has the privilege to reveal. His plan for femininity is to give us a waiting and nurturing heart, just like His own, so that we can reveal that truth to others. When we trust in Him, when we let Him sanctify us, this plan becomes a reality in each and every woman.
In God’s eyes, being a woman is not about living up to any standard; it is not about proving my womanhood to anyone. My Father has given me the privilege of being female, of encountering and reflecting the intimate love of Christ as the Bridegroom of every soul, of safeguarding the dignity of human life, of possessing a feminine expression of His Heart.
I used to worry that I would forever be striving to find my place as a woman. I worried that I was destined either to fail at achieving the expectations of femininity or fail at escaping them. But Christ took pity on me, and what He showed me about my own heart and His was beyond my wildest hopes and dreams. God Himself crafted the strength and beauty of femininity, and He has a plan for it: it’s a divine romance in which He is sweeping us up in every day.