A few months ago, I came home with this tattoo on my left forearm. It is the Hebrew word “ezer.”
It’s kind of an ironic tattoo, really, because this word is most often used to describe Eve as Adam’s helper. For my entire life, that’s how I heard Eve described. A helper. An assistant. A support system. A mother. A wife. Calm. Gentle. Quiet. I assume her laugh was airy and light.
Meanwhile, you can hear my laugh from a mile away. I spend most of my time at either end of the emotional spectrum, and rarely linger around calm. I forget that I’m a full-bodied person and don’t do gentleness well. Quiet isn’t my style.
If you’ve been around here before, you know that I have had a hard time reconciling my personality with the characteristics I have always thought a nice, Christian woman is supposed to possess.
But then, a few months ago, all of my suspicions about real womanhood were confirmed: “ezer” means so. much. more. than “helper.”
Did you know the two root words of “ezer” mean “to be strong” and “to save?” Did you know that out of the 21 times this word is used in the Old Testament, 19 are used in strong, militaristic fashions, and the other two are used to describe Eve? Did you know God is described as the ezer – the savior, defender, helper – of Israel?
It makes you think Genesis 1:27 might be serious when it talks about men and women being made in God’s image. “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” We – ALL OF US – are made in the image of God – the imago Dei.
I write because I think women forget – or aren’t told – that sometimes. As much as I want men and women alike to read my blog and find good words for their lives here, this core value of mine is for you, ladies.
More than anything, I want you to know you are made in the image of God. Even if you don’t fit the mold.
I got this tattoo because it’s easy to forget that. When all I see is how I fail to meet the typical standards of Christian womanhood, when I am discouraged, when I feel too loud and like God messed up, I look down. I look down at this simple word and remember I am strong because God made me to be strong, I am loud because God wants me to speak up, I am strong-willed because I need to be in order to overcome the obstacles women face in ministry.
This is what it means to be made in the imago Dei. This is what it means to be an ezer. To know who you are as a woman of God, to be strong, and to save.
You, my friend, are an ezer.
Male and female, you are made to be strong. To stand up for what you believe. To speak on behalf of your God. To tenderly love the hurting. To gently pick up the pieces of this broken place. To nurse the world back to health. To do whatever it takes to uncover the Kingdom of God around you.
This is the imago Dei in you, and it is beautiful.
My whole world changed when I realized I’m not just a helper. I am made in the image of God, too.