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Five minutes of Feminine Genius

Updated: Aug 13, 2019

I've been dragging my feet on writing about the feminine genius. Why? I mean, it IS the name I selected for this ministry.


True confession: I didn't really have a clue what the "feminine genius" was before I chose the name. I thought it sounded cool, and I knew it circled back to JPII so I figured it was a safe choice.


Then, someone {understandably} asked me to come speak on femininity and the feminine genius. I'm sure that seems like a safe bet: a Catholic woman who is passionate about women's health and has given her ministry the name "feminine genius." Surely she has a clue what that phrase is all about. The craziest part in all of this is that I AGREED to talk about it when they asked, KNOWING I had very little knowledge on the topic.


So before I go any further, I need to give a *huge* shout out to the Abiding Together podcast and a handful of Catholic bloggers who helped me to understand the feminine genius just in time for my presentation last November. You ladies are the best!

“The Feminine Genius” is a term used to describe the unique essence of womanhood that is different, yet complementary, to the Masculine Genius. These are not gender roles. Femininity is not girliness. No, it's something much deeper. And is so individually unique to each woman that it can be hard to adequately describe.


Why does any of this even matter? I love this explanation from the Second Vatican Council, used later by Pope St. John Paul II.

"The hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of women is being acknowledged in its fullness, the hour in which women acquire in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at his moment when the human race is undergoing so deep a transformation, women imbued with a spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling."

...the hour in which women acquire in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved...


To aid humanity in not falling.


For a church that gets a reputation for being anti-woman, these statements show extensive trust, hope, and dependency on the influence of women for the overall outcome of the future.


In order to achieve these things, though, women have to know *who* they are and *what* inherently gives them this influence.


Imagine we are all on a bus. Driving toward a cliff. This cliff is a world where all interactions between people are transactional, not relational. There is a disregard for all human life-- the child, the immigrant, the elderly, the disenfranchised. There is a focus on efficiency to the extreme of losing all sight of humanity. This world uses people then disregards them when they are no longer of use. Systems of oppression prevail. This is a culture of death. And the bus is driving on a path directly toward this cliff.


Up until now, men have been driving the bus. Recently, women have realized they are also capable of driving the bus. However, if the same systems are in place-- keeping us on the same path-- it doesn't matter if a woman is at the helm. She should not say "I am just as capable of driving this bus!" No, she should say "everybody off the bus!" Or at a minimum, find a different path toward a different destination. Her unique femininity gives her an outlook to perceive humanness in the "other."


This can create new paths toward a new future, but she has to understand her femininity and how to use its influence. Simply taking over the drivers seat is of no benefit if she keeps that bus on the same path, toward the same cliff.


There are four components to the feminine genius: receptivity, sensitivity, generosity, and maternity.

They are building blocks; each one dependent on the one before it.

I will break each on down in future posts, but for now, I will try to describe them briefly and concisely. (not my specialty. #talksfordayyyyssss)

Receptivity

Open hands, open heart

Biologically, looking at sex, it's obvious the woman is receptive and the man is generative. This is a physical manifestation of an emotional and spiritual truth. Note: It's not passivity! Women can be active participants in biological, emotional, and spiritual receptivity.


This is the first building block, the foundational component. We have to be open to the people, the situations, and the life in front of us.


Obstacle: Grasping for control.


Your hands cannot be open to receive when they are closed, tightly holding on to control. Or holding on to the two oversized suitcases of baggage you're dragging behind you.

Let that crap go! Seriously. Let go, turn your hands over, and make room to receive whatever and whoever is in your life today.


Sensitivity

We have the capability to grow another human, a separate being, inside ourselves. Even if you never use it, the capability is there. The connectedness of women to the inner lives of others stems from inherent capability to be intertwined with another human being. A child's DNA forever remains in its mother. When women are open to it, their sensitivity to those around them is powerful. It can almost flirt with super power, depending on the woman.

"How in the world did you know something was wrong?" is a phrase I occasionally ask my best friend.

"I could just tell. I know you." is typically her response. She is sensitive to the inner workings of my heart.


Obstacle: Numbness


We can all do it. Netflix. Wine. Pinterest Scrolling. Peanut Butter M&Ms. Those are my numbing tools of choice.

An hour or two of checking out every now and then will happen. It's not the end of the world. But just as a numb arm can’t feel— it isn’t sensitive to touch— a numb heart is not sensitive to those around it.


Generosity

When a woman notices a need (through the sensitivity listed above), she acts. Many mothers are unphased when a child asks to bring an extra friend or two to dinner. She has room, she will make due, and everyone is welcome.

When my best friend notices something is wrong, she shows up. Yesterday it was with a bag of conversation hearts. Because I will eat those until my teeth hurt— and then keep eating them. And she stayed for 2 hours. Sensitive to her friend, then generous when she sensed a need. Generous with her money, generous with her time.


Obstacle: Orphan spirit


It is a phenomenon with orphans who have been adopted into steady homes that they may still hide food in their pockets, backpacks, or under their bed. They experienced the harsh reality of scarcity. There were many days they didn't know if tomorrow would bring enough food. So they had to hold on to whatever they could find today.


We can have this same wound in our spirit. My dad left us when I was 18 months and died when I was 3. My mom and adopted father divorced when I was 23. I very much identify with these feelings. I cannot share what's been given to me because what if there's nothing left for me?


Maternity

Yes, I'm Catholic. Yes, we have babies. Sometimes lots of them. It's true. That is one {important, beautiful} manifestation of maternity. Catholics also have nuns. And consecrated lay women. Who have no biological children, but hundreds or thousands of spiritual children.


We are all called to be spiritual mothers.

"The woman's soul is fashioned as a shelter in which other souls may unfold." -Edith Stein

Biological children physically (and hopefully emotionally, etc.) grow and flourish under the shelter of their mothers.

Spiritual children emotionally, relationally, and spiritually grow and flourish under the shelter of their mothers.


Obstacle: Shame


When we haven't dealt with our stuff, it affects our parenting, biological or spiritual. Shame from a mistake typically means when our kid experiences something similar, we either overreact or we ignore it and don't react at all. Neither option aids our children in growth and maturity.

You hopefully noticed a few things I never mentioned with the feminine genius:


Your opinion on glittery stilletos.

Your feelings about leg or armpit hair.

The reflection of the number of children you have-- or your marital status-- on your femininity.

The feminine acceptableness of wearing slacks versus a skirt.

Your ability to cook like Rachael Ray or decorate like Joanna Gaines.


You can have a buzzed head and a tattoo sleeve. And the world needs YOUR feminine genius displayed.

You can be an engineer in a prestigious firm. And your firm, colleagues, and clients need YOUR unique feminine genius.


You can be a stay at home, homeschooling mom of 6 kids. And your family and community needs YOUR feminine genius.

I cannot begin to list all of the options, because there would be a unique one for each woman.


The feminine genius is a launching pad to give you the foundation and fuel to be who God made you to be-- not a box to stifle your individuality.

Love follows knowledge. -Thomas Aquinas

You can’t love yourself if you don’t know yourself. This is why I chose the name “Feminine Genius Ministries.” Women are shaping the future. To harness the power inherent in our feminity, we must know how that is uniquely manifest in each of us. That starts with a basic knowledge of understanding your body. Your health: physical, emotional, and spiritual. And then knowing, owning, and allowing God to redeem your story and all of the experiences that make you YOU.

From that, authentic femininity can flow and change the world.


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