I really do not agree with the message that the majority of the current day churches are sending women. I don't like how they present 'how to be a godly successful woman' to us. I want to share some thoughts on here regarding this topic.
This has been on my heart a lot for many reasons such as:
1) Marriages all around us are in trouble and Brandon & I know this. We see our friends under attack our families and satan even tries to get a wedge in ours. We have been meditating a lot on what the Bible says about marriage about women's roles & men's roles in this world.
2) our roles have changed a lot in the past 3 years - I never pictured myself as being very maternal or feminine - in fact I really wasn't sure I was ever meant to have kids or have a traditional wife role --- but God challenged all those prevoius notions and flipped my world upside down with giving us raymond so unexpectedly! :)
3) I am continually reading the book, Captivating. It is in my top 5 books of all time for truth telling and powerful. I can't say enough about this book.
4) The attacks on Sarah Palin have created conversations going on all around the world on gender & femininity as she makes her way to becoming the first woman in the white house.
SO those are the reasons this topic is on my heart.
I am not happy with the messages that the world tells us about being a woman, the church as a whole is no better than the world in this way. I don't like that we try to focus femininity to a concrete set of demands or roles. I don't like when I am told that to be a successful woman I just need to do the following _ things and then I might measure up somehow someday to who I am supposed to be as a feminine godly woman. I don't like that we are never told it's okay to fail.
With all the demands & expectations we put on ourselves and others put on us, leaving NO room for failure.... we are destroying the heart of women, that which makes us truly beautiful and feminine and captivating. We are worn out tired and ashamed of how we are not enough and not good enough yet too much (too demanding too emotional too conversational) at the same time. We do not need more books more people telling us how we are failing. These resources are helpful in some ways - yes - but they don't explain or describe what being a woman is all about.
These lessons on how to be better women can NOT be taught without first explaining the Holy Spirit's power in our life and what being a woman is truly all about. They can not be taught without explaining that every single one of us will never be perfect - that the goal is progress not perfection. And they can't be taught without explaining that unrealistic expectations between husband and wife is detrimental to a successful marriage. We have to communicate our expectations to each other - not worrying so much about what the world or even church tells us.
I believe these lessons on the specifics on how to meet our spouse's needs can not be taught without explaining that our spouse will NOT meet all our needs. That we need to depend on God above all else to meet our needs.... that our spouse WILL fail us and disappoint us and that's okay. And finally, these lessons can not be taught in my opinion without explaining we are all responsible for our own actions. Our spouses failures in one area is no excuse for our own failures and sins (ex: my husband doesn't meet this need so I look ____ to fill it).
So there's a lot of 'danger' in teaching these to-do lists for how to be a successful husband or wife alone without secondary teaching.
But God's message is clear - we are enough for Him and not too much at all, ever. He has shown me what real beauty is... what real femininity is. He is the only one that can meet all our needs and show us who we are. He is the One that has been able to heal all the wounds that has been inflicted on my beautiful heart from this world, myself, my culture & the churches I have been to. The majority of churches are not doing a good job of spreading God's love to us as women. God spoke to me a lot through this book, Captivating and I wish that I could pass this book to every woman I know. I believe the church means well (I don't believe the world means well) --- but let's just be honest - men do NOT get it. They don't get what being a woman is all about. They don't get what we need to hear to help us become more godly women. They don't get that femininity can't be described in roles, demands, actions, or physical looks.
I am going to continue to write summaries on the book Captivating on here and my favorite passages from it. As always - italics are excerpt. Here are some notes from Chapter 1. Stay tuned for more of my thoughts on this topic coming soon! :)
I joined the feminist movement in college, searching as so many women did in the 70's for a sense of self..... but no matter how much I asserted my strength and independence as a woman ("hear me roar"), my heart as a woman remained empty. To be told you can be anything when you are young and searching is not helpful. It's too vast. It gives no direction. To be told when you are older that, "you can do anything a man can do" isn't help either. I didn't want to be a man. What does it mean to be a woman?
I really relate to this. I grew up in - liberal so open minded our brains are falling out - New Jersey and I was a total feminist throughout school. I was an athlete... I was not gentle in spirit or in personality or attitude.... I couldn't bake... I couldn't paint... I had horrible handwriting.... I couldn't sew a button in 7th grade even though all the boys kid.... what a failure as a girl in the world's eyes!! So I took the role as feminist --- since I didn't measure up to the traditional roles - I was not going to try harder at them - because I got this message that I wasn't EVER going to be good enough. So instead of trying, I was just going to give up and try to change the tradition!
I was determined to prove that women were just as strong as men in every way.... I didn't get that God made women and men differently. I didn't get that my roles, my talents, my outside was NOT what made me a woman. I missed what God was trying to tell me when I felt Him telling me I was powerful... He wasn't talking about being as strong as men... He was talking about the unique and beautiful, powerful heart given to women.
Before I was married my mother gave me this advice....a) love flies out the window when there's no pork chop on the table b) always keep your kitchen floor clean. I caught her drift.. namely that my new position as wife centered in the kitchen making pork chops and cleaning up after them. I somehow believe that upon saying I do, I would be magically transformed into Betty Crocker. I imagined myself baking fresh bread, looking flushed and beautiful as I removed the steaming loaves from the oven. No matter that I hadn't cooked but five meals in my entire life. I set about preparing dinners, breakfasts even with zeal & determination. After 2 weeks of this, I lay on the couch despondent announcing that I didn't know what was for dinner and John was on his own. Besides, the kitchen floor was dirty. I had failed.
I just have to laugh because I know this so well. I remember those first weeks how I just felt like such a failure - I realized the technicalities of being a wife were going to be WAY harder than I envisioned haha. I told you about my home economics days growing up - I must have forgotten about those and really assumed the "I do" at the altar would all of a sudden make me everything I wanted to be for Brandon. I forgot that I couldn't do anything all those typical girls could do - the girls like my sister the home economic poster child, the homecoming queen that seemed to be naturally gentle & feminine.
But something happened!! God started pouring His love into me when I sought Him out. I realized success or failure in these roles didn't define me! When I realized these roles did not make me a woman or not.....when I realized it was okay to fail and that I was still a beautiful woman ---- only then was I able to start loving myself and trying little by little to be the woman Brandon wanted (and I wanted to be!)
Do I believe all women have to learn these traditional homemaking roles? No --- some women were called for totally different things than me. Sarah Palin's unique skills & roles are a wonderful example. I believe she is completely feminine and a beautiful woman - yet look at how different her family and her life are than mine. They make it work for them.
I have to work extremely hard at being a homemaker. Even as I write this my husband exclaims, "you do? No you don't! Everything is perfect around here." HAHAHA Oh if he only knew haha. These things do not come natural to me - I ignored my mom's advances to teach me these traditional homemaking skills & tools - I missed out on a lot by not allowing her to teach me about homemaking... but I know that I just have to get better every day. I know that they ARE the role for me specially right now. I know that Brandon needs me to fulfill this role --- but most importantly now I know I can fail. It's okay to fail!!! My aim is progress not perfection. These 'things' are not where I get my value as a woman!
These acts of service, things I do are all just outward signs of what God is doing inside. I want to give my husband what he needs because I love him and want to serve him. We discuss our expectations of each other together and jointly decide how we can meet each other's needs. Traditional homemaking is important to us and I LOVE that it's the role that I have to fill right now BUT BUT BUT...it's my role right now not because it's what makes me a woman ... but because of the marriage Brandon & I have and what we decided together would be best for our household based on our skills our backgrounds and our goals. The way our lives have worked out, God through Brandon allows me to stay home full time so my role right now is homemaking and taking care of Raymond.
So again - these roles do not define me as a woman, they are not where I get my value, they are not what make me feminine but they are roles I have right now and quite frankly these things are completely secondary to what's most important and that is seeking God and being close to Him. I know that the most important thing I can do as a wife is be close to God.
We have received all sorts of messages but very little help in what it means to become a woman. How can a woman of God be confident, scandalous and beautiful but not a feminist nazi or an insecure I need attention emotional whore? How can I become a strong woman without becoming harsh? How can I be vulnerable without drowning myself in sorrow?
MUCH MORE TO COME! :)
Here is the original blog entry on Captivating: