Goodbye Childhood, Hello Womanhood

(Cover art courtesy of Zondervan)

Goodbye Childhood, Hello Womanhood

Taken from How to Have Your Life Not Suck by Bianca Olthoff. Copyright © 2019 by Biance Olthoff. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.

Are You a Little Girl or a Grown Woman?

We don’t all begin our faith walks at the same point in our lives. We don’t all face the same challenges, and we certainly can’t all expect to have access to the same support systems and opportunities. But as with any growth process, we need guidance from those who have gone before us in order to transition fully into who we’re meant to be. Over the years (with the ever-helpful aid of my 20/20 hindsight) I’ve distilled some of my most useful lessons on adulting into the paragraphs below. Some of these I had to learn the hard way, and my hope is that you won’t have to. And since I was raised on Sesame Street (a quintessential part of my growth), they will all start with the same letter, because this chapter is brought to you by the letter P. You’re welcome.

  1. Process

When we are young and immature, we tend to focus on praise and promotion, but a grown woman sees the importance of her process. What we learn through our work, and even by the act of simply doing that work, is far more important than any reward, increased status, or affirming words we may receive as a result.

After I finished teaching at the Rock Church in San Diego once, senior pastor Miles McPherson asked me if I’d ever had a speech coach review my sermons. I thought he was asking because he was so impressed by my awesome wordsmithing and polished prose. When I proudly told him I hadn’t, he asked me if I wanted some feedback. Um . . . excuse me? I was hurt and embarrassed at my need for correction, especially following what felt like a really solid spin behind the pulpit. But where would that embarrassment get me? What good would a “Great job, Bi” have done when I had so much room to improve? I swallowed my pride and seized the opportunity to learn from one of the best.

Miles’s feedback was brutally honest but incredibly helpful. And while it did make me a bit uncomfortable, I was well aware of how little a person grows when she stays inside her comfort zone. As a grown woman and communicator of the gospel, I knew I needed to receive Miles’s insight as an investment in my maturing process. It made me better at my job, and, subsequently, better at my life.

Where was Ruth when Boaz saw her? Was she on Instagram trying to become a #Model? No, she was gleaning in the field and sweating like a pig on a roast. She wasn’t looking for a pat on the back. Ruth was doing what she needed to do to survive and succeed. Because of her commitment to working and not whining, she was in a position to be promoted from worker to wife.

Put your head down and do the work.

Don’t worry about the promotion; focus on the process. Don’t quit the painful process because you are addicted to praise. The process will mature you to focus on the future and build it rather than looking back longingly at an idyllic past.

  1. Produce

Immaturity produces entitlement and negativity; grown women produce. Immaturity will cause us to focus on what we lack, but it takes an adult perspective for us to begin to work with what we have. If we are busy doing that work, we won’t have time to focus on what we don’t have.

Never do we hear Ruth complain. She was homeless, barren, widowed, and suddenly responsible to provide for her aging mother-in-law in a land that wasn’t her own. I don’t think anyone would have blamed her if she’d collapsed into a heap and moaned all day. But instead of letting these struggles get the best of her, Ruth marched down to a field, got herself a job, and began to produce. If you’ve been given olives, make olive oil. If it’s sour grapes, make wine. When you get lemons, make lemonade. Use what you have to get what you want.

It’s not about what you have or don’t have. It’s about what God can do with whatever you give Him.

  1. Payment

Every great leader, boss, preacher, teacher, or mom needs a coach. This person will pour into your life and help you become better. When we invite someone into our lives who can provide loving and thoughtful correction, we become better. A word of caution: be intentional about who you invite in. If you allow someone who is jealous of or threatened by you to speak into your life, it may cause a weakening in your confidence. Surround yourself with people who are for you, love you, and will be honest with you.

Grown women should view correction as a payment into their development. Little girls will make you pay for correcting them. And dealing with a payback from an immature child is the worst!

  1. Purpose

A mature woman will declare she has purpose and potential living on the inside of her. She won’t make excuses for who she is (and isn’t).

We can either grow into all that God has called us to be, or we can make excuses for why we’re not growing.

Ruth had every reason to sit at home, wallow, and complain, “I used to have a husband, but now I’m all alone and nobody wants me. I’m just a Moabite woman who is living among Jews who hate Moabites. I’m only a barren widow who has nothing.” Just and only are words that will keep us repeating the cycle and making excuses that we will never have enough.

God’s call is always found in our God-given talents and God-inspired passions and burdens for the world. And it requires spiritual maturity to ask ourselves: When I breathe my last breath, will I have optimized those talents? Will I have done my best, throughout my lifetime, to get the highest return on His investment in me?

Purpose exists when our gifts, experiences, and passions come together.

We must be women who declare and believe that we were created on purpose and for a purpose.

We must be women who declare and believe that we were created on purpose and for a purpose.

Just Like Jesus

The In the Name of Love internship program was a great learning exercise for all of us. And even as I oversaw the ministry, I discovered plenty of areas in my own leadership (and life) that were in need of some growth. But being “grown” in this sense is not an end in itself. Acting like a grown woman means believing and behaving in line with the reality that there will always be more room to grow. And for what it’s worth, this includes generously giving grace to each other because we are all works in progress.


For more on Bianca visit biancaolthoff.com and to pick up your very own copy of his new book, click this direct link here!