I also grew up in a world heavily influenced by my 2 grandmothers. Both were strong, nurturing, inclusive, Christlike and full of determination. Growing up, these 2 realities collided: one where "like a girl" was an insult and one where I desperately wanted to be like my grandmothers...and still do.
Today, I face the same collision of realities. "Like a girl" remains an insult in many circles. Women are recipients of far too much violence, and misogynistic behavior is too often laughed away or even celebrated.
All the while, Jennifer and I are in our 18th year of marriage. Jen is strong, smart, witty, kind, nurturing, inclusive, Christlike and full of spunk and determination. I see so much of her in both our son and daughter. I see her beauty and grace in action every day as a wife, as a mother, as a nurse, as a woman and as a child of God. Every day, I strive to be more like her.
So what gives? Thankfully, the gospel provides a way forward: "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28)
We are all one in Christ, and Jesus consistently demonstrates this in his ministry. He included women among his disciples, some of whom like Mary Magdalene supported his ministry (Luke 8:1-3). He talked to the Samaritan woman when others ignored her (John 4). He was anointed for burial by Mary of Bethany and responded to criticism by announcing that her act of generosity would be told wherever the gospel is preached (John 12:1-11; Matthew 26:6-13). The news of his resurrection was first entrusted to women in a time where the testimony of women wasn't even allowed in a court of law (Matthew 28:1-10). There are plenty more examples, but Jesus opens up a world where women and men are one.
The truth is, we still live in a world unkind to women. Are things better than they used to be? In some ways, yes. Do we live in a world where women and men are treated equally, seen for who they are in God's eyes? Not yet. We have a long way to go, but there is hope...in Christ.