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There’s something amazing about a little girl who’s too young to understand gender stereotypes. She’s fearlessly free.

When one of my daughters was four, she brought home the worst school picture she’s ever taken. She was a frenzy of energy back then – so wild, she’d actually knocked one of her front teeth all the way back up into her gums. When it reemerged a few months later, it was perpendicular to her other teeth. I remember slipping the school picture out of its envelope, as we both gasped in unison. Her hair was frizzed out like a mane, her gnarly teeth barred in such a fierce smile, she almost looked leonine. 

“Oh my gosh!” she exclaimed. 

I was about to stuff it right back into the envelope, when – with a voice full of wonder – she cried, “I’m so beautiful!”

The “Perfect” Woman

This is the way we see ourselves when we’re young. There’s nothing wrong with us. We’re not too fat or too skinny, too shy or too bossy, too competitive or too lazy. We’re just breathtakingly, miraculously us

And then the world chimes in. 

Now, I’m not a guy, so I can’t speak for men, but here’s what the world says to women:

  • Be hot, but not slutty. 
  • Be confident, but not arrogant.
  • Be smart, but not so smart you intimidate all the men. 
  • Be stylish, but don’t try too hard. 
  • Care, but make it look like you don’t care. 
  • Don’t be too strong. Don’t be too weak. 
  • Be vulnerable, but tough. 
  • Skinny, but curvy. 
  • Petite, but also, as tall as a supermodel.

There’s a woman in the Bible who actually was a walking contradiction, but not in the way the world wants women to be. 

She was a pagan, but filled with integrity. 

She had a ton of baggage, but it didn’t define her. 

She was bold, but submissive.

She was a leader, but also a follower.

She was risky (some would even say, risqué), but in a pure and honorable way. 

She wasn’t afraid to lower herself to a position of servitude. And she wasn’t afraid to ask for something really big.

Ruth is one of the bravest and humblest women in the Bible. Here are 3 things we can learn from her: 


You Don’t Need a Man to Define You

In biblical times, you actually did need a man to survive, at least financially and socially. Without a man, you were homeless and destitute. But guess what? Ruth chooses homelessness and destitution over finding a guy. She wants to remain in the presence of someone who knows the One True God (her mother-in-law, Naomi), even if it means singleness and poverty. 

Men can offer a lot of opinions about women – they can rate us, reject us, chase us, critique us – but one thing they can never do is define us. A guy’s opinion about you has zero impact on who you actually are. It doesn’t change a single reality about your identity. Only God gets to say who you are, and He says you are His own beloved creation, made with intentionality, and infinitely valuable (Psalm 139:13-18). 


It’s Not Wrong to Lead 

I grew up believing good Christian girls don’t take the lead. We don’t initiate relationships with guys or tell godly men what to do. But that’s really hard to reconcile with this image of Ruth slipping into Boaz’s sleeping quarters and asking him to marry her. Technically, she doesn’t even ask; she tells him what to do: “Take me under your wing,” Ruth says to Boaz in the middle of the night, “for you are a family redeemer” (Ruth 3:9). 

Ruth reminds Boaz of who he is, and urges him to step up to the plate. That’s leadership. Earlier, in chapter one, when she refused to return to Moab despite Naomi’s pleading, Ruth set in motion a chain of events that would ultimately lead to the birth of Jesus. That’s also leadership. 


It’s Not Wrong to Follow

You don’t have to be the girl who never advocates for herself, never challenges a man, never asks for what she wants. God hasn’t given you a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). You can stand up for yourself, share your opinions, lead others, be true to what you actually think and feel.

But you can also follow. You don’t have to be the tough girl who never cries and doesn’t need anyone. You can cling to godly, older women and cry, just like Ruth. You can follow their lead. You can admit that you want the love and protection of a good man. That doesn’t make you weak. It makes you honest.


The Girl in the Photo

Today when I look at my daughter, she’s all long, tan limbs and silky teenage hair – so gorgeous it makes my heart stand still. But then suddenly she’ll race me, or wrestle me, or we’ll laugh til we cry, and for just a second, I see that little buck-toothed girl with the wild hair and fierce heart. The girl in the photo. It makes my soul leap inside me, because I love that little girl. 

Do you remember the little girl you once were? The one with crazy teeth and a lazy eye, who didn’t feel “less than” because no one had told her who she was “supposed” to be yet? The little girl who was just beautifully, gloriously herself.

How would that little girl live your life? What would she do that you’re too afraid to do? What would she stop doing? What pressure and expectations would she toss to the wind? How might God use that little girl, in all her fearless beauty, to inspire the world and fulfill His will?


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  • Avatar Lynn Merlet says:

    This article really resonated with me. I can feel myself as that little girl and then in high school heard the comments that can destroy you. As a young woman I left those comments behind and moved forward with my head held high an accomplished goals.
    I say to those little girls and young women, be proud and move forward with your beauty and confidence. You are loved!

  • Avatar Jeannine Cline says:

    Very well said, thank you.

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