Through Thinking Deserts: Womanhood Series Part IV

The Hurt You Hide, The Joy You Hold

Did you know that in addition to beauty appreciating, service rendering, and baby-producing faculties, there are other organs we give lesser thought to? The mind, for starters. Now that seems fairly obvious, but please hear me out.

I’m going to be really honest here and spill my heart. This is a topic I feel deeply about and I think God does too.

I have a love-hate relationship with those Period movies and books- you know, like Pride and Prejudice and Emma and books of that era. The scene is often a handful of dramatic, manipulative, and ever-fainting females (often mother and daughters), and a man or two who allows himself to be manipulated, can’t stand up for truth and bows to every whim, whether good or bad of his females.

It’s also the setting in many hyena dens. Look it up.

So you have the softness of ridiculous amounts of petticoats and bustles, accompanied by control and manipulation and pathetic assumed weakness, and together, it makes no sense and frankly, makes me nauseous.

And usually out of this chaos, a young woman emerges who is different than the rest of the women, and whose only apparent different characteristic is her bright and inquisitive mind. She wants more than her mother is experiencing and she is intrigued and touched by people beneath her social circle, much to the chagrin of her high-society family.

And of course, a young man usually shows up and is intrigued by the girl’s spark, her fine mind, and her rebellion to what is socially expected. He is a real man, and values what is good, and she is attracted. The story progresses as the man and woman both struggle to stay true to themselves and true, beautiful love emerges. The love of equals. The love of two people who are whole, both physically, emotionally and intellectually. And it’s beautiful. And that makes my nausea slightly better.

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It’s the struggle of the centuries- I don’t know if it started at the Fall, but the thread is seen through history. The struggle of the expectations of doing over being. It is seen in Jesus’ interaction with Mary and Martha, and women throughout the ages have felt sympathy for Martha while knowing they should be like Mary.

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In weddings, the message to the bride is often in the running of the household, the cooking and housekeeping and the submission. The grooms often hear about leadership and taking responsibility of the home. You see the difference? The doing versus the being.

When all women are valued for and encouraged in is their skills, their abilities, and the needs they provide, a part of us dies, because life is not ultimately found in doing, but in being. “The truth shall set you free,” said Jesus of Nazareth, not, “your housekeeping skills, or your child-raising abilities.” There is life in a thriving, vibrant relationship with our Redeemer, where we are constantly growing and learning more.

Do not hear me minimizing the doing. The doing is beautiful because of the being, not in spite of it. A lady who is interested in growing, in learning, and in personal development will be that much better as a homemaker, as a cook, as a teacher, as a wife. She will do it well, because that’s who she is. What naturally flows out of her in her doing will be a direct reflection of her character and who she is.

The men tend to get pushed towards personal development because of how we do gender roles and because of what is expected of them. They will often get elected to offices in the church where they are forced to study and grow, and good things often happen personally. The expectations of being a good leader and husband and father are quite high and they naturally expand and grow.

The women don’t get that. Their cultural expectations are to oversee a well-running home, and provide for their families needs. That’s not bad because of what it is, but it’s bad because that’s all. Any personal development is strictly that, personal, without much outside encouragement.

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That’s why womens sunday school classes tend to be more dry, and conversations less interesting. We speak out of what we know and experience, and often it’s not that big.

I’m here to shake things up. To call women to be more. To call women to think and live vibrantly because they love their Redeemer and are plugged into His Kingdom. I’m hear to urge women to start thinking, not out of emotions, which proves to be tragic and makes men’s meeting’s necessary, but to think logically and live truth.

Teach your children how to think, not what to think. I appreciate my parents doing that. We grew up listening to Ravi Zacharias because my dad enjoyed it. We learned simple logic lessons through the debates. As a result, our childish squabbles would often include terms like, “you’re not being consistent.” Because we knew that if A, that we just said, was true, B couldn’t logically follow. At this point the squabble was over, because if you weren’t consistent with truth, you lost. And then, as young adults, we were encouraged to think for ourselves and they guided us through decisions as we searched for Truth. That is powerful for young adults and provides a beautiful slate to develop worldviews and vision.

And if, in all this, you men think I’m shouting “mutiny”, and are feeling intimidated, guess again. As we grow and develop and learn and think, we won’t overpower or control you, we will complement you in beautiful and Biblical ways. As you lead in healthy, Christ-like ways, we will bring our submission to you as a gift, and it will be beautiful.

The Proverbs 31 lady? I’m guessing she was a combination of softness and strength. Of doing flowing out of her being. She  was a lady of strength and of thought, and her husband encouraged her to buy fields because she had an eye for it. That’s my theory.

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all images via flickr

Those Period Women were not really women, they just pretended to be. Real women are women like Esther and Rahab and Deborah, who, under times of extreme tension and stress, didn’t faint and require smelling salts, but were strong and resilient and courageous. That is what being a woman is and that is what God is calling us to. Anything less is a travesty of the design that was Creator-inspired and breathed. Anything more is… well there is nothing better than that.

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Why Did She Buy That Field? Womanhood series part III

::The Contradiction of the Virtuous Woman::

As ladies, we’ve all been in those study groups before. You know, where Proverbs 31 is studied and the virtuous woman is being extolled. Happily, we immerse ourselves in this mystical woman we are all trying to emulate.

An excellent wife? Check.

Her husband trusts in her? Check.

She sources good clothing materials, usually from the $1/yard table at Walmart, for her household? Check.

She provides good food, sometimes ordering it from afar, like on Amazon? Check.

She gets up early and makes cornmeal mush for her household? Check.

She considers a field and, wait,  WHHHAAAATTTTT? WHY DID SHE DO THAT?  Awkward silence. She’s that stereotypical stay-at-home-mom who buys fields.

(and at this time the moderator announces a bathroom break and resuming at verse 17)

Honestly, I don’t have the answers for all that. But I do have a theory. But that’s a topic for tomorrow.

 

The Balancing Act – Womanood Series, part II

The balancing aspect of vibrant womanhood is service. Not the legalistic giving-to-the-poor-because- I’m-supposed-to, but the natural response of worshiping a Creator who is also a Redeemer. The vibrant woman knows how much it cost, and that it’s not hers to keep, so she gives it away.

She gives because she can’t help it. She gives not merely things, but herself, her time, her giftings, her love. She does it in a thousand different ways.

She has friends and builds relationships with both people who are like her and also those who are vastly different. She realizes that she needs both to keep her balanced. Having friends of different ethnicities, backgrounds, religions and worldviews is healthy. Her eyes get opened to a whole new way of doing things. She gets to experience other cultures in her own living room. And her friends benefit from her Godly lifestyle and friendship.

I have to brag a bit here about the ladies in my church. They are busy, homeschooling moms who work hard. But they do so well at volunteering at the Pregnancy Center, running errands with the less fortunate, and blessing the elderly. And I love to see the children picking up the vision. They are so sweet to the elderly people, and of course, the old people adore them!

If you are a mom, your children can be a wonderful asset in relationship building. Children, in their innocence, have a way of tearing down cultural and social walls and creeping into people’s hearts. Tap into this! Not only will they be a blessing, but they will also benefit hugely. The only side effects they might experience are enlarged hearts and a heightened awareness of needs around them.

all images via google

I see beauty complimenting service and together, they are powerful. One without the other can become self-worship or ugly legalism.

This giving of yourself shouldn’t only be done away from home, in a foreign clime or on a mission field; your neighbor is just as needy as the cannibal. We have created boxes for our versions of reaching out, and for whatever reason, our box for those around us isn’t as well developed or pursued. As ladies, the Great Commission is for us too! Jesus didn’t say how to do it, He just said do it and it can be done many different ways.

This aspect doesn’t come as naturally because opening up our hearts and billfolds and schedules requires more, opens us up to be hurt, and is generally more difficult. Admiring dolphins is easier than developing a relationship with somebody who God might be asking me to love and serve.

A good test of the worship/service relationship is our online persona. What does our instagram or facebook feed say about us? Are we valuing beauty over relationships because we like to be admired? Are our followers and friends too important to us that they take away from real-life relationships that we should be developing?

What does service look like to you?

Blame It On The Dolphins- womanhood series part I

I sat in my beach chair, toes curled in the sand, basking in the sunlight and salty sea breezes. The last year had been tough, draining, exhausting. I felt drained, depleted.

Time on the beach has always been therapeutic for me. It is my happy place. Heartbreak and cancer and stress and mushrooms mysteriously disappear, and for those brief moments, the world is perfect. As the sun and the wind work their magic, my mind clears and my soul relaxes.

As I sat there a week ago, my senses were fully engaged and I worshiped. I couldn’t help it. I read aloud the conversation between God and Job and laughed at God’s humor.

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Who determined its measurements, surely you know! Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band……..” Job 38: 4-9 ESV

I like God because He is funny at times, and also because He paints beautiful word pictures.

As the waves crashed before me, I felt appropriately small and humble, and then love and affirmed, after reading Psalm 139, where the psalmist paints a picture of a powerful Creator, intimately involved and interested in His creation.

The moment could not have been more perfect. About this time, my aunt further down yelled, “Look at the dolphins. A school of dolphins was swimming by, within mere feet of the shore.

And I quietly lost it. The dolphins did it. In that idyllic moment, when my tired soul had come home, the dolphins brought me to tears. And I worshiped again.

They say there are happy tears and sad tears. That day I experienced a third: beauty tears. 

I think that is what being a woman is about- experiencing and expressing beauty. It can be powerful and it can be beautiful, if it is Creator-honoring and inspired.

We experience and express it in a thousand ways. Cooking beautiful, nourishing food, taking pretty pictures, designing and decorating homes attractively, crying at dolphins- all are powerful expressions of worship. This is one of womanhood’s finer and most beautiful qualities. She gives a softness, a beauty, a finer touch back to the world she lives in.

This aspect of womanhood usually comes naturally and doesn’t have to be cultivated like other aspects. I think the vibrant, glowing, fully-engaged Godly woman will worship regularly. They may be conscious acts, or unconscious, but she will worship. She sees the beauty in the mundane and ordinary, as well as the exquisite.

This is only one aspect of womanhood, though, and if this is all we experience, it can turn into self-absorption and admiration, both of which are the complete opposite of Creator-worship.

The other, balancing aspect of womanhood will be explored tomorrow.

Prelude

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” C.S. Lewis

As I prepare this series, I’m feeling like an anxious mother, wondering if this thing she’s birthed will be understood, and if she even fully understands her own content. The awareness of my own life and the struggles I experience seem 10x bolder as I attempt to make them viewable for others.

This has been birthed over several years, as I watch women struggle with weak desires and low expectations. Easily satisfied with the far-too-little that is expected of us, we are surviving, and not thriving. Some of us want more, and some of us don’t even know if we should.

Wherever you are, and whatever your context, this is for you. I’m nervous too, because I’ve seen many a blog mercilessly slaughtered, because people took offense at slight details, or refused to see it because it wasn’t their experience.

Please hear my heart, and know that I want the absolute best that our Father has to offer for each of His children.

The first post will be up tomorrow 🙂

New Series Coming Up

Chalk it up to the new year, or to recent conversations with kindred spirits, or to thoughts and ideas simmering in my head, but I have Writers Itch and hope to have a new series on Vibrant Womanhood on the blog soon. I’ve had some response on one of my last posts on the bit about  Mennonite women being less interesting conversationally than the men, and I plan to revisit that in this new series. I am currently doing a study of different facets of womanhood and so while a lot will be for the ladies, I also plan to write a post for the guys as well. It might also involve a guest post too…. so stay tuned.