My Beef about Creation
“Wow, your feet are big! What size shoe do you wear?” This exclamation I’ve heard quite often throughout my life, as a young kid and even into my adulthood. Wherever I may have been, I never knew when that question, which was the abominable sin to me, was coming. It always startled me because I never wanted people to notice my feet or know my shoe size, (not even the shoe salesperson). The person yelled it loud enough (it seemed) for bystanders to do what comes naturally—look down at my feet. They said it as if they had just made a significant scientific discovery or were announcing some breaking news. Ugh! How embarrassed I felt. Everything inside me would cringe in utter shame and humiliation. I loathed my feet and worked extremely hard trying to hide them. They were unordinary and did not look like other females’ feet. When sitting, I wouldn’t extend my legs out. I’d deliberately tucked them securely underneath my chair so no one would notice my feet. I dared not wear open toed shoes. Sandals? Are you kidding? No way. My feet were not only big, but they were also ugly. My foot is long and flat. I have no arch, long toes, and a fat big toe. Yuk! No one would ever get sight of these repulsive, unladylike feet. I cannot tell you how often I sat on the side of my bed, perusing my feet, and hating everything about them. My mother and sisters, female friends in the neighborhood, classmates at school, or females I noticed at the pool did not have feet like mine. My female supervisors and co-workers did not have feet as big as mine. Every female I encountered had nice, “normal,” dainty feet. Something was terribly wrong with me. “I’m a weirdo,” I thought. The more I noticed the difference in my feet from my counterparts, I began to think I was not appropriately fitted in this group. This was my thinking for a long portion of my life.
God’s Thoughts on the Matter
In this month’s blog, we come to a section in Psalms 139 that is very appropriate to this story. It’s actually my favorite part of this chapter. I love these verses and periodically repeat them to myself. The words brought clarity to my life and helped reshape my thinking on how I felt about myself. God spoke to those dark places in my life where I always felt kind of weird, different, and unaccepted, or where I had a low self-esteem. Verses13-18 say:
13For 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. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.
In an Insight Today daily devotional reading entitled, We Are Wonderfully Made, by Insight for Living Ministries Pastor, Chuck Swindoll, he writes, “While the Bible was not written to be a scientific journal on the human body, it is amazing how much is included in the Scriptures that has to do with this subject. Frequently, we come across statements that specifically mention how God designed our anatomy and put us together emotionally. One of the most phenomenal revelations of His workmanship is found in Psalm 139, where we read of how closely and carefully God watched over our being formed while we were still in our mothers’ wombs.”1
Pastor Swindoll is right on point. The beautiful words here accurately reveal the astounding workmanship of our Creator-God in putting us together. By His mighty power, extraordinary wisdom, and masterful hand, He constructed us. We learn how, while inside our mother’s womb, God: formed our inward parts; knit us together; and saw (or envisioned) our frame. In verse 14, King David offers praise (not criticism) to God for being “fearfully and wonderfully made.” The word fearfully here denotes being done in reverence and with a heart-felt interest. Wonderfully suggests God applied a unique element to everyone He has created. This is evident as we move throughout the world. We recognize and interact with various races of people, who all have different looks and personalities, and are different colors, shapes, and sizes. Each of us has a unique imprint that distinguishes us from one another. David doesn’t berate himself because he knows God doesn’t berate Himself, His creative work, or human beings. After creating the heavens and earth and everything in it, Genesis 1:31a says, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” So too, God thinks this way when He sees you and me. You’re good!
It’s important to understand it is the Creator-God at work immediately after a male’s sperm cell travels through the woman’s vagina and joins with her egg cells to produce a baby, and during the 9 months she carries the child.2 We can speak confidently about this as followers of Christ because it adequately refutes Darwin’s theory of evolution. Through each trimester a baby is in its mothers’ womb, he/she is being formed by God until fully developed to enter the world. It’s exciting yet humbling how God included men and women to play a part in His human creative process. We plant, conceive, carry, and bring forth life. But, we are not the architects of the child’s sex or identity. God decides that. The text goes on to show how it is also at this time where our length of days on the earth is decided and recorded—before we even begin living them (vs. 16).
Help on the Way!
My belief that something was wrong with me, that I was not appropriately put together as other females needed to change. My mother helped start this process for me. She felt my agony, watched my frustration about my feet, and heard my complaints. I noticed her compassion when we shopped for shoes. We couldn’t afford to shop the quality shoe stores, where the shoe’s construction would be what I needed and a better fit. No, we had to go where prices were affordable. I rarely found a nice, cute, fashionable pair of shoes there in my size. So, I had to settle. Mom would just quietly sit there, not offering any criticism or harsh judgements. She understood a girl’s need to be beautiful and look pretty like a princess. I’m sure it was hurtful for her as well. Nonetheless, she loved my height and often complemented it. She told me to walk tall. I do. Today, I stand 5’9” tall and wear a size 12 shoe. Ironically, my mother was only about 5’3” tall, had a nice frame and “normal” feet. My anatomy was nothing like hers or my three sisters, whose structure is closer to hers. I was the only female in the family who seemed to have inherited more of my dad’s genes, who was over 6’ tall.
One day, after hearing me complain and deride my feet, it was as if my mother had heard enough. With the same intensity as the people who’d yell “You have really big feet,” my mom yelled, “Look, those are your feet; there’s nothing you can do about it. You’re going to have to accept that and that’s it!” Her pitch was high and her tone strong. Possibly to make me feel better, she added, “And, you’re tall; you probably wouldn’t look right anyway in a tall body with small feet.” My mom’s words penetrated my psyche that day. I started agreeing with her in my mind, “Yeah, these are my feet. I probably wouldn’t look right with little feet,” I thought. Slowly, the shift began to happen to accepting my feet. Hearing God’s words in the scriptures also began to come alive in my life. I understood what God was revealing and trying to get me to see. He cared about me.
After reading Psalms 139:13-18, I hope you’re inspired. Maybe you’re now able to see how God feels about you when he looks at you, and how intimately He was involved in your existence today. You’re not a mistake, nor were you formed incorrectly. God did not forget and need to come back to fix a mistake he found on you, or complete a detail He missed. If, as me, you feel you don’t quite fit in with the social or cultural norms of society, your family, yes, even your gender, God says to you today, you do. Our inward parts, which include our basic character make-up, is good. The sex we are at birth is the sex God determined for us, and it’s good–regardless of traits we may manifest that appear more compatible with the opposite sex. Science takes it further to inform us how our genetic make-up, including sex, was complete at the moment of fertilization.2 Although my feet, by comparison, look more masculine than feminine, I’m not male. I am the female I was designated to be at birth, with feet designed, shaped, and attached to my legs by the Creator-God–feet that do not appear to match the female gender. Now, what can we say about that? I’m very aware of and sensitive to the varied opinions and discussions on this today. It’s constantly evolving. Science and society now encourage us to read more, search deeper, explore further to understand our eccententricities, and, possibly, consider an alternative.
My grandfather, too, admonished us to read everything. I did read more and searched within myself. My discovery led me to recognize and piece together the several unique imprints God made on me. I realized, not only do my feet not align with the female gender, but naturally, I also tend to think analytically and work methodically–traits often associated to males. Naturally, I’m assertive, independent, a go-getter, work very hard, and ask a lot of questions. I’m not as florid, in my use of words, décor, or style, as the female gender tends to be; decorating, hanging pictures and curtains is my least concern when I move into a new home. In discussions, I rarely make customary comments or share typical opinions as the group. Lastly, I have a big, black, unique birthmark on the front of my neck (that a few docs wanted removed); you can’t miss it. As I focused on me and put together these atypical aspects about me, it became very apparent that God wanted me to stand out from the rest. My unusual feet actually correlate with the rest of me! 😊
I’ve shared this life-long battle over my feet and publicly mentioned my shoe size for the first time in my life; I’m 59 years old. Yes, I had moments of sadness, felt depressed, and experienced anxiety about my feet because (culturally) they were not typical of how a female’s/a girl’s/a young lady’s/a woman’s feet should look. I’m not the only person who has struggled with negative body image or low self-esteem issues. I’m not the only one who has sensed a disconnect from or lack of acceptance by one’s gender group. I’m not the only one in life who was teased, rejected, excluded, uninvited, or overlooked because of an apparent difference. Maybe you’re a male reading this and can relate; you too recognize traits/features in yourself that appear more feminine than masculine–you’re gentle-natured, not as rough/tough as other guys. Members of your gender have made cracks about this to you. If you’re not aware, these words–“gender,” “body image,” “social acceptance”–are hot buzz words circling the internet, social media, books/articles, and news headlines. In this information age, a lot is being discussed, expressed, published and consumed on these topics. So, this month, I decided to share my never-before-told personal experience and contribute my thoughts to the conversation.
I made it through my despair because of a wise mother who recognized and felt the pain of my struggle, yet loved, accepted, and uplifted me with grace; by God’s truthful messages in the Bible; and by God’s Spirit close by my side, whispering His good thoughts in my ear. I can confidently tell you what did NOT happen with me during this time. I never believed I was NOT a female. I was never confused about being two sexes. Internally, I knew I was a female, and identified, acted, and expressed myself as such. I never explored any ideology that I was a blend of both male and female. I did not wish to be a male. I never attempted to injure or cut myself to make my feet smaller or to punish myself because of my difference.
Opening one’s heart and inviting God to take a closer seat in your life will change it. Learning about His ways, His nature, and gaining His viewpoint from the Bible regarding life and human relationships helps us distinguish what is true from what is false. Over time, His truth becomes your truth. His way of being is the way you now aspire to be. Ultimately, His viewpoint takes precedence over any familial, societal, or cultural views—even your own. That’s precisely why God created us and how He desires us to be–to bring Him glory. Does this mean I finally reach a point of perfection, where I no longer have struggles, suffer, or commit wrong? Nope. Life with God is a process He initiates, He grows and builds in you, and He continues into eternity.
As a biologically born female, with feet and other aspects about my makeup that are atypical of the roles and characteristics of the female gender, I declare, I’m fearfully and wonderfully constructed by God. With all my dislikes, perceived flaws, pet peeves, quirks, bad posture, sometimes politically incorrect behaviors, and/or misnomers, God created me in love. Despite how things may appear, what others have said or how they treated me, or how I may think or feel, I am okay. I praise God now for this awareness about myself. I stopped comparing myself with others and putting myself down. I fully embrace who I am, with my “perceived” flaws and unconventional ways. It’s how God made me. I’m happy and feel content. I’ve settled the fact that, while God has given me things I like while creating me, there are also some things I wanted that He did not give me (pretty girlie feet. Lol). That’s out of my control. And, personally, I will never attempt to alter His truth on this matter to appease myself or another. Why? Because I understand now that if He says, it’s good, then it really is. And that settles things for me!
Be blessed until next time.