Our society and our Faith have much to say about womanhood. Those two perspectives often diverge, but thankfully, we have Sacred Scripture, the many examples of the female saints, and the writings of wise and holy men and women throughout time to guide us. We have Our Lady as the perfect model and inspiration. We also have the Church, and one another, to help us persevere.
So how do you become - and remain - a godly woman in today's modern world? Here are six important virtues and habits to cultivate:
1. Seek Him First, Trust Him Always
Don't fall for the lie of this world that other things will satisfy you, interiorly or exteriorly. Nothing can fill you more completely than being in relationship with the One who loves you and created you for Himself. Anything else pales in comparison, no matter how alluring it may seem in the moment.
The way to begin a godly life is to build it upon God, and Him only. Then the rest of your life will fall into place, rightly ordered, and it will proceed as He intends. There is no better foundation for becoming a godly woman than putting Him first.
"But seek first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself." (Matthew 6:33-34)
"For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, plans for your welfare and not for woe. When you call me and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, you will find me, and I will change your lot..." (Jeremiah 29:11-14)
2. Strive for Deep Humility
Be on your guard against pride, arrogance, and selfishness. Strive to be selfless and aware of your shortcomings. We all have flaws and imperfections. If unattended, these root sins become obstacles to our holiness, choking it off like insidious weeds can overpower a beautiful but neglected garden.
Be gentle and patient with the faults of others, but be constantly mindful - and at work - on your own.
"You have been told, oh man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: only to do justice, love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)
"The fear of the Lord is training for wisdom and humility goes before honors." (Proverbs 15:33)
"Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others. Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus..." (Philippians 2:3-5)
3. Pray & Be Grateful
Prayer is an essential part of a relationship with the Lord. It is the dialog of your heart that brings you into union with His. Set aside time for that intimate exchange every day. Turn to Him for encouragement, solace, peace, and provision. This will bring the joy and grace you need to pursue godliness.
Gratitude resonates from the depths of the soul. It enables us to find the richness in a particular moment in time. Regardless of our present circumstances, it is the deep well within us where we can return to refresh ourselves continually.
Be thankful in your prayer and praise Him constantly. Remember the works of the Lord and acknowledge what He has done. When you do, you grow in faith, hope, and love, all of which build the foundation for godliness.
"Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
"Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." (Philippians 4:8)
4. Live & Speak Faithfully
Be deliberate and vigilant in your pursuit of holiness. Aspire to keep it on your mind and in your heart at all times, to the extent that it is possible in daily life. There are plenty of temptations and diversions that can carry us away in an instant. When you backslide or lose your focus, rededicate yourself as quickly as possible.
Most of us do not sprint straight to godliness. We meander there over time, by doing the hard work required to advance spiritually. Remaining in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation, will bring you great graces, so strive to live a rich sacramental life within the Church.
Be particularly mindful of sins of the tongue. While cruel and reckless words pierce like a sword, the tongue of a wise woman brings encouragement, hope, and healing to others. Sacred Scripture tells us the tongue is a dangerous weapon. Be discrete. Be charitable. Be vigilant. When you fail, as we all do, be humble and wise enough to offer an apology as immediately as possible.
"For I the Lord am your God. You shall make and keep yourselves holy, because I am holy..." (Leviticus 11:44)
"She opens her mouth in wisdom; kindly instruction is on her tongue." (Proverbs 31:26)
5. Embrace Your True Beauty in Him
As difficult as it may be in today's world, embrace interior loveliness - and holiness, as your standard of beauty. The essence of womanhood is not sensuality. Our culture has perverted and distorted womanhood over time. Though the world is obsessed with personal appearance, true femininity goes much deeper, and is much more nuanced and diverse in character. The essence of a woman is more than her physical appearance.
"...God does not see as a mortal who sees the appearance. The Lord looks into the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7)
"Your adornment should not be an external one, braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry or dressing in fine clothes, but rather, the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God." (1 Peter 3:3-4)
6. Serve from the Heart
Modern women wear many hats, making it challenging to remember what we have been called to since the beginning of time. Fix your gaze on pleasing the Lord, and serving others in Him. We need each other, and He intends for us to be a part of His plan to reveal love and salvation to others. When you serve, you give selflessly, in communion with His plans, so you cultivate the virtues that lead to godliness.
"And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.' " (Matthew 25:40)
"Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in the world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me." (John 12:25-26)
Our Sacred & Supreme Vocation
Becoming a godly woman is a lifelong aspiration. Do not be discouraged by your imperfections. Your godliness is like a lovely flower blossom. All blooms start as tiny buds, and open themselves to reveal their perfection and beauty over time.
Thankfully, we have many resources from which we can draw the wisdom and grace we need for the transformation. First and foremost, we have intimate communion with a God who created us, loves us, and wants to be in relationship with us. He made us for holiness, and desires it for each of His children.
We cannot do it on our own, but thankfully, our God will not be outdone in generosity. In confidence and faith, we can draw from deep wells such as the riches of Sacred Scripture and historical accounts of saintly women. We can seek the intercession and guidance of Our Lady, who is our model in holiness and faithfulness.
We are continually fortified by the sacramental and liturgical life of the Church. As we persevere in virtue, she leads and guides us to holiness. And we cannot forget, especially in this day and age, that we have the gift of one another, for encouragement and support.
We begin to bloom as all these things come together in time. We can accompany one another, inspiring and upholding each other, as women seeking godliness, one day - and one prayer - at a time.