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It might sound a little weird to talk about "enfleshing" something, and I will admit that I didn't come up with the expression. A book I recently read, Eve in Exile, coined the term for me. The author, Rebekah Merkle, refers to how women differ than men in the way that God made us to be the sex that is able to "enflesh", or bring life to something. Of course that relates to how we literally bring life into this world by having babies, but it also refers to how we bring life to the home. In simpler terms, God has given us the ability to make a house a home. And on a deeper level, women take the theology that is preached, and help people to actually see it in the way they beautify, transform, and make people feel loved and cared for. To quote Merkle, "[Women] shape loves and they shape loyalties... They're important because they take glorious truths and make them visible, and weave them into the souls of the people around us."
The idea that women have the unique calling to "enflesh" is something that my husband and I have been trying to wrap our minds around since I read Merkle's book. It hit home with me as soon as I read it. "Enfleshing" becomes a very practical issue, because it often takes time and a bit of money. My husband didn't understand why I wanted to add curtains to the windows when we got married. He couldn't comprehend what usefulness a cat could serve. He refused to appreciate why I wanted to replace his perfectly good shirts, just because they were from when he was in middle school and had a couple holes in them. And those are just naming a few of the battles we've had in the early days of marriage. In short, he didn't get my motivation to "enflesh", which led to me having hurt feelings anytime he felt I "wasted" money or time on these things.
As a single, I lived in a house with a bunch of other girls. There was also a house of single guys that were our friends. The guys would come over and always note how "homey" our house felt. In contrast, we'd go to their house, sit on the carpet, and just hope for a glass of water to be offered. And, to be honest, we generally met at the girls' house, because the guys just weren't as inclined to think about hosting. Guys and girls are wired differently. I think about those times now, and I'm more aware of how the sexes compliment one another. Men are generally very "usefulness" driven, not spending time or money on things that don't have an obvious practical value. This leads bachelors to have bare white walls, but working furnaces. On the other hand, go to a bachelorette's pad, and you'll feel well-cared for and the cushions will be comfy and smell nice, but the faucet will probably be leaky. Although I hesitate to stereotype, I'd say this is how it generally goes. Men are the prose, while women are the poetry. We need each other for a well-rounded narrative.
My husband admits that he often doesn't understand why I want to do things a certain way, but that it usually ends up making life more enjoyable. If I want to do a family photo shoot, host a party at our house, decorate for Christmas, or replace the ratty shower curtain, he now tries to give me the benefit of the doubt and trust that it will be good for us, and not just assume it's all nonsense. Even being given the time to do these things is something some husbands may not realize that their ladies need more of. It takes time and effort to "enflesh" a home, making it a place where children and loved ones feel cared for, and welcomed continuously. Life is about more than the 8-5 in the world of "enfleshing" (i.e. homemaking); it's about creating a flourishing home that causes people to actually taste and see the gospel.
Having respect for how God has wired the opposite sex is vital to how well we function together. Different is not bad, and we don't necessarily have to understand how or why the other thinks the way they do. We just have to know that life is richer because of the differences, and not criticize or look down on them. Women have a bent that can easily be looked down on, because the perceived value isn't as obvious as more practical endeavors. But a woman that is truly owning her task of "enfleshing" will cause her people to actually touch the deeper truths they've been learning about in church. That is building a household that isn't easily taken down by the storms of life, and I consider that to be of great value!