I have spent much of my life nurturing others. This is not uncommon for someone who loses their mother at a young age. Especially when you’re a female and the oldest child. The problem is that I wasn’t receiving the nurturing that I myself needed.
It never occurred to me that I’ve been living with this imbalance for 25 years. An output of nurturing that has been consistently greater than the input.
A deficit and eventually, a part of my identity. From triathlon teams and students at the high school to my friends and family, everyone calls me the “Mom” because I was thrown into the role of nurturer at 7-years old.
I didn’t consider that I don’t have to be everyone’s “Mom.” Nor did I realize that I need to be nurtured too!
Until I started exploring the role of God as a nurturer. According to Denise Jordan in “The Mother Heart of Father God”
“Father put within the heart of the feminine—feminine that is within both the man and the woman—the tender longings and the tender heart of Himself. It is important to recognize that men also have the ability within themselves to express these tender longings that come from the femininity of God.
There is, however, a way in which more of God’s femininity resides within the female body. The female body is made for nurture. The female body is a prophetic expression of who God is in His feminine attributes. There is something about a mother nursing that speaks of comfort and nurture.”
This beautiful blog concludes by saying “He loves you not only as a father loves but as a mother loves.” When I read that, a release transpired for my heart. I didn’t have to be the nurturer all the time. I was free to be on the receiving end because God is enough to nurture me, as well as everyone else.
Aside from my personal experiences, this concept of nurture being out of reach has only been reinforced by Western religion, which focuses on God as masculine while dismissing Him (gonna stick with this pronoun for now) as feminine too.
And if God is Love, why would Love be limited to one gender? Again, we have to think beyond the physical body when exploring this concept.
Embracing the Feminine
As I leaned further into this nurturing side of God, and further away from my own compulsion to nurture the world within my reach, it also occurred to me that I’ve been simultaneously rebelling against being the nurturer! It’s as if my heart has been saying “I don’t WANT to be the Mom! Who forced this role on me? I will rebel against it with my tomboy tendencies. So THERE!”
I rolled my eyes at dance classes, girls’ nights and anything pink, as these screamed feminine on the surface. But it may be that we aren’t more feminine because we have pedicured toes and a designer purse or less feminine because we enjoy hiking on dirty, gnarly trails and prefer wearing a ball cap over brushing our hair.
I’m not saying I’m going to start wearing lipstick and high heels or brushing my hair, (but I may indulge in a few more pedicures)! What I am saying is that I intend to embrace my feminine side.
The Balance of Soft and Strong
My own hip issues may have been the catalyst for this whole journey into the feminine. I won’t get into the science behind FAI here, but I’ve spent years researching what it means for my hip (and wrote a blog about it).
At this point in my life, I regard the hip pain and limping that I experience for days after I run is a sign that my heart and body and mind are out of alignment. Interestingly, I can take a hula lesson, take a buddhi yoga class or practice yoga relatively pain-free. And after these, I feel stronger, healthier, more balanced.
Admittedly, I began practicing yoga with the intention of using it as a means to “get back” to running. But with every yoga class I took, it became more apparent that yoga is a lifestyle in itself and a practice in listening to the body and heart.
And there is an undeniable connection between nurturing my own feminine side and my yoga practice. How can you be in goddess pose and not feel feminine?!
After 3 months of consistently practicing yoga, I have changed. My perspective of myself has changed and I am open to my feminine side. I can be found at my friend Kerstin’s Buddhi yoga class on Tuesdays, shaking my hips and actually enjoying it!
So too, my own body has changed. I’m softer and I notice the faintest sign of curves that I never had. Yet I’m stronger and more confident. When we went paddle boarding last weekend, I didn’t even fall off, which surprised me considering that I’ve only been on a board once before!
I’m unafraid to hop from one foot to the other while hiking. I’m healthy and balanced. And I’m unafraid to celebrate the balance of soft and strong that I find in my own feminity.