At some point during my childhood, I heard the story of creation, of Adam being formed out of dust, of Eve being formed out of Adam, and for years, I was convinced that all men had one fewer ribs than women.

I don’t remember the exact moment I realized that both of the sexes had the same number of rib bones, but it was similar to my discovery well into my teens that when the weather man was talking about the “wind chill” temperature he wasn’t actually saying “wind shield” temperature

There were other aspects of the creation story that I also got wrong in my early years. For instance, I always thought that it was an apple that Eve ate. When in fact, the fruit is never named. Of course, I didn’t actually attend church as a child. Most of my biblical literacy was developed in the one week a year I spent going to Vacation Bible School at either the Baptist Church or the Methodist Church in my community

The creation story also gave me the impression that every woman would find the perfect man that would be bone of her bone and flesh of her flesh. I didn’t realize, however, back when I was drinking grape Koolaid and eating Vanilla wafers, that the Creation story didn’t actually have a happy ending.

I’ve been thinking a lot about creation, and particularly Eve, recently, because for one, I am teaching a lesson on Eve in my Bible study tomorrow night. But mostly, I have been thinking about Eve because I want to understand what God had in mind when he created women, and particularly what he has in mind for me as a woman.

As an unmarried woman who can’t have children, femininity can seem elusive. Yet even without a ring on my finger or baby in my belly, I believe God still has a unique purpose for me that he couldn’t accomplish if I were a man. And believe it or not, I think the answer lies somewhere in the garden. Not the Garden of Eden, though. No, I think the answer is out there in my front yard, in my garden.

When God made Adam and Eve, he gave them each a unique role, husband and wife, but he gave them a shared role, too — stewards of the earth. How they lived out their unique roles would shape what each of them contributed to their shared role. That’s why the terms “husbandry,” caring for crops and animals, and “housewifery,” providing food and shelter, have come to embody, though now somewhat archaically, all it means to subdue the earth and rule over it.

So while I am not actually a wife or a mother, I can continue to live out my created purpose by mothering the earth and using its abundance in my housewifery for my friends and family. 

In doing so, I become Eve’s daugther, a uniquely feminine image-bearer of God.