I am so over the “God’s princess” message. I know I am the daughter of the King, but what if we talked to this next generation of girls about being God’s heroine instead?
During an informal survey I conducted online, I asked women to name their favorite heroines. There were so many entries about mothers and sisters, tales of their sacrifices and consistency. Reading their stories of resilience and courage made me want to be in their camp. These real-life women exhibit substance, grit, and willpower, and those of us who have benefited from these qualities are quick to give credit to them. These women engage fully with their callings and live with adventure and intimacy with God.
I also heard names like Amelia Earhart, Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa, Joan of Arc … Clara Barton, Esther the Queen, Corrie ten Boom, Harriet Tubman, Elisabeth Elliot … and the list goes on. What these women have in common are qualities we aspire to; they stood up for who and what they believed in. They had faithful lives and accepted challenging assignments.
People tend to admire a princess for her appearance, while a heroine is remembered for her actions. When we emphasize the more traditional option of being a princess, we risk the implication of focusing on one’s outer beauty. Heroines are beautiful too, but typically for more than their clothes or hairstyles; heroines have notable inner beauty and strength. This isn’t to say that beauty is bad. God made beauty, and He made it to delight us. Beauty is most evident when we feel alive, but somehow, we frequently reduce it to two-dimensional images based on ideals I am not sure I ever agreed to.
A heroine may be defined as “a woman admired or idealized for her courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” Being a heroine may mean living what is to you, an extraordinary life, not fulfilling someone else’s ideas of who you should be, but creating a life based on what you sense God has deposited into your soul. He has a heart for the whole world; what portion has He placed in you? He has all the gifts in full measure, so what gifts has He consigned to you? The expression of those gifts, on behalf of who you are called to, is the act of a heroine.
My favorite heroines see their every day as an opportunity to build another kingdom, to feed those hungry for substance over “stuff.” They are also highly invitational, make space for others to join them on their mission, and are cooperative and community-driven. They don’t engage in the competition of princesses who have reduced beauty to scores, which today can look comparable to “likes” on social media posts and the ranking of someone’s body on a scale of 1 to 10.
This is real to me as a woman, but even more so when I think about my daughters. I want to spend less time filtering what the world teaches them and more time captivating them with a greater truth. I can’t protect them from the messages they absorb through media and peers, but I can tell them about their grandmothers and the Corrie ten Booms. I can remark as much about their attributes as I do their cute outfits. And I can be curious about what their mission is.
I spend a lot of time with young women who are paralyzed and do not know what to do next. They are reaching out for an unknown future with an elusive mission that may not be what they thought for their lives or prepared for in college. Meanwhile, as they try and fail, or pivot or change their minds, it’s all documented in such a spectacularly public way; they have the added pressure of wondering what everyone thinks about it. We have fed so many messages to them about fulfilling and realizing their dreams that when their first steps don’t seem reportable, they assume they’re on the wrong path. They spin their wheels, wondering, “Is this it?” as they pass by opportunities, people, work, and stories.
Heroines care more about who they are than what they do. The adventure, calling, and opportunities find them. Heroines have their eyes and hands open, trusting, believing, hoping, and dreaming of what they can co-create with their Creator.
Here’s to a new generation of women more prone to action than posing.
Excerpted from Warrior of Eden © 2024 Beth Guckenberger. Used by permission of David C Cook. May not be further reproduced. All rights reserved.