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As the calendar turns to July, we now enter the third segment of this year’s focus on Biblical Womanhood, known as Feminology. The first segment laid the foundation of how God designed woman distinct from man; the second segment focused on women having strength. The next three months will delve into the concept of women being soft. You can read or hear more about Feminology on this blog, Planted, and through our podcast, Unshaken.

I think I’ve always thought the quality of “soft” for women was a given. When describing someone as feminine, I’d think of those who are gentle and girly. Femininity has a softness about it, a delicate nature. While it may be tempting to categorize this soft quality as weak, that seems like the wrong antonym. Weakness opposes strength, not softness. In actuality, the opposite of soft is hard.

This is clear in the world of rocks. I used to love collecting rocks when I was a little girl. There were so many characteristics of rocks–size, color, and hardness, to name a few. In fact, there is actually a “Mohs Hardness Scale” that compares the resistance of a mineral to being scratched. Diamonds are the hardest of minerals (it’s a 10 on the scale); talc is the opposite extreme, coming in at a 1 on the scale.

This kind of description of  hard or soft makes me wonder about being a soft woman versus a hard woman. What would it mean to compare my resistance to being scratched? First I’d have to consider:  What scratches me? What rubs me the wrong way? What might cut me in life? Then, I’d have to think about my response to those things. Immediately I imagine scenarios where life scratches me, such as feeling unappreciated for my work at home, having an argument with my children, not meeting others’ expectations. If you have small children, perhaps their disobedience or constant questioning and demands scratch you. If you work outside the home, maybe your employer doesn’t recognize your hard work, or another employee maligns you. If you care for an aging parent, perhaps it is the day in and day out that wears you down over time. How will we respond to these scratches in life? Will we be resistant and hard, or will we be conforming and soft?

Recently I found myself having unkind thoughts about my husband. They weren’t warranted at all, but these thoughts would pop into my head and I found myself becoming more and more aggravated by the smallest things he would do. These thoughts didn’t just remain in my brain, either. Soon I found myself responding with unkind words and actions. Simply put, I was becoming hardened to my husband. The more self-centered my thoughts, the harder I became. It was only when I measured myself against God’s word (specifically 1 Corinthians 13) that I became convicted by my hardness. To soften my heart, I asked for prayer. I confessed my sin. And, I changed my actions. Can you relate? Do you ever find yourself becoming hardened to someone else? Maybe it is even someone you dearly love, like in my case with my husband.

Satan absolutely loves dividing people. In traditional wedding vows, we hear the words What God has brought together, let no man separate and we know the unity of a married couple is sacred. The unity of God’s people, the church, is also sacred. There will be many instances of “being scratched” in marriage, in church, in life, but let’s practice being soft women in our response to these scratches. This is the image that God has designed–a woman who is soft to His word and quick to respond in repentance.

When a woman holds grudges, allows emotions to rule her, entertains wrong or unloving thoughts, she becomes hard. She even appears hard. Know that the enemy of our souls is seeking to destroy and divide; fight hard for unity and peace with others as much as it depends on you.

While hardness is the antonym of soft, gentleness would be an apt synonym. A gentle response is a soft response. In order to fight my hardened thoughts against my husband, my words and actions toward him became more gentle, warm, and thoughtful. I smiled more and encouraged him. This was not natural because my sinful flesh wanted to be grumpy and selfish, but as I chose to love him, my heart began to soften. And, this gentle and quiet spirit is what God calls precious and beautiful (1 Peter 3). A woman who is soft like this pleases God and reveals Him to others. Through His Holy Spirit, may we soften our hearts to our loved ones, to our enemies, and most of all to God.