Posted by: molly | September 28, 2011

Godly Women (Who Can’t Cook)

Growing up my grandmother told me many stories about her life.  Almost every night as I worked on cleaning up the dishes she would sit at the kitchen table and tell me about her childhood on a farm in Ireland, her independent days in London working at a telegraph company, and her days as a new wife and young mother in Canada, Portugal, and suburban New Jersey.   Her tales of Ireland were normally childish, with a longing to go back so deep you could hear it in her voice.  She encouraged me to spend some time on my own (though at the same time she encouraged my marriage to any boy who ever came to my house while I was still in high school…).  And then she settled down and did what all women should do–she learned to cook.

My grandmother never taught me to cook.  She was a pretty bad cook by the time I was learning. (She had been a decent cook until she became obsessed with making sure everything was thoroughly cook, which often became throughly burnt).  However, knowing she was once a good cook her stories “housewifedom” in the 50s and 60s gave me an unintended picture of womanhood.  I became entrenched in the thinking that women cooked, cleaned, tended children, and were more consumed with dinnerware patterns then anything else in life.

So I sought to embrace this form of femininity that was encouraged by my Christian friends and leaders.  For a while I really cared but soon I became disillusioned. I flirted with feminism and was equally disappointed.  And yet, as I flip through Better Homes and Gardens I am not excited by the pictures of homes I will never live in (though nobody really seems to live in those picture perfect houses anyway).  When people encourage me to try these fancy recipes I politely decline since, although I love to cook, I cannot follow a recipe to save my life.  And while my friends blog about home decorating projects or the adorable things that their baby just did I can’t say that I really care all that much.

For a long time I felt like I was less of a godly women because these purely feminine vices do not appeal to me in the same way as my peers.  I actually love to sew and cook and I think my children are adorable.  But that is not what makes me a godly woman.  In fact, there are godly women who can barely cook a frozen lasagna.  There are godly women whose houses never look untouched and who don’t pretend that their children are perfect. Godly femininity looks much different than what the world expects.  The truth is, many women who are great cooks/decorators/bloggers are in fact not biblically feminine.  Godly women take care of their families but taking care and being consumed with looking/being perfect are two different things altogether.   The trappings of being consumed with externals is not femininity at all, just a common vice for women.

I’ve served burnt food, (Granny taught me that one) undercooked food, (since I never really liked Granny’s cooking) and weird food to guests before (they popped in unexpectedly!)  The other night when friends were over I dumped dinner (a homemade pizza) all over the bottom of the blistering oven while everyone sat waiting with finished salads.  We went out for dinner that night.  I’ve also served what I hope was tasty food but that is not the point.  My table may not be beautifully set and my food may not be gourmet but my door is always open.  I may be embarrassed by culinary mistakes for the rest of my life but I am learning to be gracious (and not run from the room crying or sulking for the rest of the evening like I want to).  My godliness isn’t based on the quality of my cooking–it is something that goes far deeper than that.



  1. You are so right. It is the internal that makes a Godly women. I would like to hear what a Godly women looks like and what she does…….disciplined Bible study, prayer, hospitality God’s way, kind, merciful……fruits of the spirit. Just a thought. God’s world is beautiful and we, too, can and should appreciate beauty but the popular trends of home decorating can fuel greed and pride…..not fruits of the spirit. Yet a women does want her home to be a place of serenity and a refuge from the world for her family. It is important that a home is the most restful and inviting place in the universe for her family. When there is order and beauty it does make a home a place that a family likes to come home too. What is beautiful? My mother always said pretty is as pretty does. That always reminded me as a child and a young women that the external was not as important as the internal. Perhaps that is part of the point you are making in your essay. Enjoyed it. Keep writing.

  2. I wish I had heard more of Granny’s stories about London and her earlier years of marriage! I remember you going through that stage where you wanted to make everything perfectly from scratch (and when it came to things like cookies, none of the rest of us could compete with you :). It seems you and I kind of had reverse experiences. I also felt that pressure that all Christian women must love to cook, decorate, etc., etc., and as a teenager I resisted that pressure and wanted nothing to do with it for that reason–it felt smothering. Years later, I discovered those things were actually fun and did them because I enjoyed them, not because I felt I got feminine brownie points for them.
    By the way, I think it’s a special gift that you have the open door policy of hospitality–not everyone can handle that stress, and you are so gracious and yet so human about it, and that puts people at ease.

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