Lauren and Mikaela--identical twins living on opposite coasts--blog about the story of life and their adventures in faith.


Damsel in Distress

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I have always been addicted to tales of damsels in distress, but maybe that’s just me.  I practically had the page numbers memorized in the Elsie Dinsmore series wherein she either fainted, became sick with the ever convenient “brain fever,” or was rescued from a villain.  I loved the G.A. Henty books, but I especially adored the predictable rescue scene in each where a lovely, virtuous young woman was rescued by a chivalrous, broad-shouldered young man.  My sisters and I reveled in a particular episode of The Waltons in which Elizabeth, in melodramatic slow motion, broke her leg and we were on the edges of our seats wondering if she would walk again.  Even my own writing often ran along these lines, and hardly a story was complete without a dramatic injury, which was the best I could do since Papa banned me from morbidly killing off my characters!  

That is all a bit embarassing, sappy, silly, corny, and sentimental.    Nevertheless, within balance there is nothing inherently wrong with the storyline of a man rescuing a woman, except, perhaps, from a literary standpoint.  After all, women are the weaker vessels, and God did create men to protect and lead women.  I Peter 3:7 says,
“Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”
I don’t see myself joining the ranks of the feminists who find the damsel in distress tale revolting any time soon.  However, one tiny verse in Proverbs has recently challenged me to consider this storyline on a deeper level.  Proverbs 24:10 says simply,

“If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.”
While there are worse things than fainting when that snake slithers over my hand, necessitating a rescue by my little brother (it will teach him manliness, right?), what will happen if I am faced with a poisonous snake ready to bite my toddler?

While getting all lightheaded when a sibling whittles his finger may not seem like a crucial weakness, will I be weak-kneed and chicken-hearted when I’m in a life-and-death emergency involving gushing blood and a machete instead of a pocket-knife?

While needing to be rescued may seem romantic and beautiful, what will I do when I am being mocked and threatened for my faith and there is no one around to rescue me?

We may love to read tales of fainting princesses being rescued by knights, and while rescues have their place, God wants His princesses to have strength in the day of adversity.  The good news for us is that strength isn’t always physical.  Only a few verses earlier in Proverbs we are told,
“A wise man is strong, Yes, a man of knowledge increases strength.” –Proverbs 24:5

Perpetua didn’t faint in the face of the lions—she was a woman of strength.  Dolley Madison didn’t faint in the face of enemies and fire—she, too, was a woman of strength.  Mary, mother of Jesus, and Jael, tent-peg-dispatcher of the enemy Sisera, hold their own places in the Feminine yet Strong Hall of Fame. 

Being a feminine woman does not at all mean playing the part of the damsel in distress when adversity comes, contrary to the boxed-in stereotype.  In fact, you have not attained true Biblical femininity unless you have cultivated womanly strength.  What better passage can I appeal to on the subject of femininity than Proverbs 31?  Proverbs 31:25 indeed says,
“Strength and honor are her clothing; She shall rejoice in time to come.”
 It is true that we women are weaker, and our bodies cannot tolerate as much as men can.  That is how God created us.  Therein, dear sisters, lies our secret.  Ours is this promise:
“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”    
-2 Corinthians 12:9
 I was truly a damsel in distress when Christ redeemed me.  I now can boast with great boastings that I am the weakest, the shortest, the scrawniest, and the most foolish, so that anyone who says, “There is a damsel of strength!” will know that it is nothing, nothing in me.  It is only and all the power of Christ resting upon this damsel. 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. Lauren, you were banned from killing off your characters? Too funny! (but wise of your father)
    I hadn't ever heard that side of the whole "damsel in distress" thing. I have always been one to scoff (inwardly, and I'm sure to a fault) at how weak most girls are. It's one thing if they really can't stand spiders, but seems like many times the drama gets played up. I hate that. And it's easier for me to say, because those things don't bother me the way it does many girls. But that's a great reminder to be strong! (My weakness is pawning off dirty/hard jobs on my brothers because they're the tougher ones, when really, I ought to do my part.)
    Thank you.

  2. Penn--Looking back, I know my father was wise to encourage his seven year old to less morbid tendencies! (-; It is pretty hilarious now, though! I love how you applied this concept to not doing the hard jobs when someone else can do it easier--that is a fabulous, practical application!

  3. Great thoughts...the part of dramatic injuries/killing off characters had me chuckling. When I began to write a Civil War novel, one of the first things I jotted down was how I would maim/kill of the guy characters! *Guilty!* LOL

    Women are the weaker vessels, but if they hope in the Lord--He is their strength. This post also made me think of the words to Casting Crown's one song, "In Me." Chorus is fabulous and goes right along with your thoughts here.

  4. I've actually always been the opposite -- I've never much liked damsel-in-distress stories --, so it was interesting to see the other type of opinion. Great post; I love how you tied it all together!

  5. I have often wondered at the story of Jael. Truly, the only way she would have been able to do such a thing was in God's strength.

    Strong women are my heroes. Not feminists, not strong-handed, striving women, but women who are gracious and kind and trust God a whole lot. They are the Superwomen in my book. (In God's Book too!) It takes great strength to do the right thing, and submit, and to be a woman of virtue when the world around us despises and dirties anything sacred or pure.

    Proverbs 31:10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

    May we all strive to be the kind of woman so valued by the Lord!

  6. Well said!


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