My kitchen is quite small. There is a refrigerator, a stove, a sink, and a pantry all crammed into the tiny room and I manage to squeeze myself in when I make breakfast or dinner. Sometimes, I’ll make a casserole or use my grandmother’s chili recipe, but I love to go all out and find some recipe on Pinterest that requires hours of chopping and simmering. After I am done cooking a meal, one of my favorite things to do to wash the dishes by hand in the sink while I listen to movie soundtracks. Barefoot.
Fewer things bring me greater joy than cooking for someone else or showing them some kind of hospitality. I learned it from my own mother, growing up in the South in a Baptist church, and from visiting the homes of other women unfailingly made every guest feel like the guest of honor.
Making the houses and apartments that I have lived in feel like home has been one of the greatest joys of adulthood thus far. My heart is happiest when I am able to create a space that is inviting to other people and makes them feel safe and loved. While I seek success in my career, the key to cultivating a joyful life has meant surrounding myself with people I love and who love me back. I don’t care how old-fashioned or naive it makes me sound, but truly nothing can replace a home filled with love.
Everyone who has entered my home has left remarking how cozy and inviting it feels. A man can, of course, build a home and furnish it quite nicely, but it usually requires a woman’s touch to bring the light and tenderness that make people feel safe and nourished.
Why does our world say that we can’t like these things, or why can’t we say that certain aspects of hospitality are unique only to women? Why does the world push away any ideas of hospitality or gentleness, and instead declare that women have to be constantly fearless, emotionally detached, or completely self-sufficient?
The world tells women to live in fear. When you take God out of the picture and deny the existence of good men, you have the portrait of the modern woman. She is callous, resilient, egocentric, and, despite her claim of self-sufficiency, she is wholly broken. She is terrified of a world she cannot control.
I do not hate nor am I afraid of men. Some of my most meaningful friendships are with men, and I am always happy to invite them into the home that I’ve built with love and tenderness. My world is big enough for both masculinity and femininity and is not confined to the politically correct term “personhood.” There is room in my world for everyone’s differences.
What does it say about me if I claim to need the presence of good men in my life? The world says that it makes me weak. However, I say that a heart that is willing to receive is soft, not weak. It takes a strong woman in today’s world to say that she needs a man.
Let me be clear: I only have enough room in my life for good men. Men who respect women. Men who have a clue about life and are willing to give of themselves to their family and friends. I can count the number of those who I know on one hand, but they do exist and deserve celebration.
May there be more women who are not afraid to be a stereotype in a world that holds traditional womanhood as a relic to be discarded. This misshapen world could use more softness, kindness, and beauty. It turns the world on its head when women embrace their true purpose. After all, the truly strong women are the most tender.
I used to bristle at the idea of traditional womanhood. I do not long for a life of dirty dishes, birthing babies, and waiting on a husband hand and foot. But I do long for the freedom to be my true self: the woman who wants to bring light and beauty into the world, unconcerned with the social pressure of career or attaining a certain degree of self-sufficiency. I am not afraid to be an idealist. I am not afraid to be a woman.