My writing and my life are often mirror images…one and the same. My writing reflects my thoughts, feelings, hopes, pains, worries, and my dreams. I haven’t written lately…not because I don’t have anything to say, but because I have so much to say that I feel frozen. I feel frozen in my life right now too. I have so much to do that I don’t even know where to begin. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.” So here it goes. Hopefully by writing, my life will start moving with intention and direction… Hopefully I will start stepping up and up and up the stairs to higher places, new places… a place where I can see clearly what I have done and what I have left to do.
Time may be a man-made construct, but our ideas do evolve along with the setting of the sun and the flipping of the calendar pages. Since the days of Genesis, Proverbs and the apostle Paul, the perception of gender roles has changed generation to generation. Thinking about being a Proverbs 31 woman in a 21st century world… or a wife who submits to her husband in the age of equality is a hard concept to consider without meeting with a lot of cynicism and skepticism.We need to remember that the end of Ephesians 4 says, “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” . That is an exhortation for everyone! Unfortunately, it seems that Ephesians 5 is often mis- used by some people who would rather Lord over and set limits on their spouse instead of accepting their God-given duty, and recognizing, that if done sincerely, the roles would not bind and enslave, but would set them free.
Most of us perceive women’s and men’s roles through the lens of this world …popular culture… and it is terribly distorted. Personally, I want to see with clarity what God wants for me to do…who God wants for me to be. I want and need discernment. I know that sometimes I make things harder on myself, harder than they have to be, especially when I forget to look at the things of this world as they should be viewed with proper perspective. Why do I care about other people’s perception of me? I don’t want to wring my hands over the little things. I don’t want to “sweat the small stuff” … I want to lift my hands up and say, “Thank You!” I want to literally lift my palms toward the sky and hand over my worries. I want to accept and receive the blessing that I know that God wants to give to me . The German theologian and humanist Meister Eckhardt said, “If the only prayer you ever say is thank you, that will be enough.” I think that is right. When I am filled with thankfulness and gratitude, I am filled with joy and love… there is no place for ugly thoughts to reside when I am filled with thanks.
So who is the Proverbs 31 woman? She wakes up early and is busy all day… yes, that sounds familiar. Is she always happy to be serving and working hard for the people that she loves and cares about…does she knows that her labor is purpose driven and productive and that she is contributing to the happiness and well-being of her home? The Bible says she ” is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her … she brings him good, and not harm, all the days of her life”. I want that. I want to be like that. But we modern, independent, educated women balk at the concept of the “traditional role” of women. We don’t want to hear that anyone is the “head” of us. We don’t want to be told to “submit”. I am not “traditional” … but I will not disregard verses that feel right to me… that I KNOW are words of wisdom meant to instruct for our own happiness and well-being… that should be heard AND followed”.
I am not an Evangelical or a Fundamentalist advocating that women are powerless; God’s Perfect plan does not include a tyrant in a “wife beater” shirt ordering the meek little woman around. God’s Way is not about me getting MY way. Submission is not meek or weak or passive. Submission is an act of trust and faith in another person. It is actively deciding to care about someone else and what they think and what they do as much as, or more than, I care about myself. It is actively doing the things that bring about peace and love and joy and healing… it is communicating and teaching with a gentle spirit… it IS NOT LAYING DOWN and BEING WALKED ALL OVER… or insisting that someone lay down and let you do the walking. That is not love… that is abuse.
Even if we women balk at submission and refuse to consider it, the Bible tells us that we are supposed to submit to our husbands… but there IS a second part that the husbands are supposed to take seriously, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” I KNOW me, and this might be SHOCKING to people who THINK they know me, but I would gladly submit to and respect a man who loved me like Christ loved the church. I would know in every fiber of my being that I was loved and cared for… Christ lived for the Church, everything he did was for the church…If I had a man who loved me like that I would know that I had nothing to fear.I do not have to be the boss… in fact it would be a relief to have a partner who cared so much. To be submissive is to be humble. Over and over in the Bible we are told “for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” I want to be lifted up. I want to go higher and higher on that staircase where the vantage point is better. Give me a man who loves God with all of his heart, and takes his duty seriously to love me as Christ loved the church, and he will never need to worry about my love and respect for him, and I will never need to worry about his feelings or his care for me. Neither of us would have any reason to be afraid.
Some people tried to convince me that my marriage should be saved at all cost, that I should reconcile, that divorce was always wrong, that it went against the Bible… there was the preacher that tried to tell me before I married that we were” unequally yoked”… there was the preacher that saw us after I had decided that I was DONE who said, ” that ‘until death do you part’ doesn’t have to be a physical death of a person”. It can be the death of the marriage because of abuse or neglect, or because it has no love or growth… I believe a marriage can be null and void because a partner/ the partners do not take their duties seriously.
But even after a failed attempt to have a good marriage, I still believe that marriage is from God. “He who loves his wife loves himself, ‘for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become flesh’.” From the very beginning this was God’s plan. Marriage is the human reflection of the love that God plans for us… the kind of love that Christ had for the church… An intimacy and trust that brings a peace that passes all understanding. Aristotle said, “Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.” How can a single soul oppose itself, or war with itself? With singleness of purpose and unity of motion and direction God’s work can be done far more effectively with four hands than with two… and even more so than with two hands that are trying desperately to be productive but are constantly having to shield, remove obstructions or straighten messes.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “…the moment you decide what you KNOW is more than what you have been taught to believe, you will have shifted gears in your quest for abundance. Success comes from within, not from without.”
Trust me on this… I KNOW me. I offer my hands raised in gratitude; I release my worries, fears and doubts; and I receive more blessings than I can name. One such blessing in my life was a beautiful soul who recently lost a long battle with cancer. She left her three teenage children and her sweet husband behind to mourn their loss. She also left on her desk a sticky note found by her husband which said, “I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today.” (Sherel Grant).
“Do not be afraid, for I AM with you.” Genesis 26:24
“Do not be afraid; and do not be discouraged.” Deut.1:21
“When I am afraid I will trust in you.” Psalm 56:3
“Do not tremble, do not be afraid.” Isaiah 12:2
“Don’t be afraid, just believe.” Mark 5:36
“Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
“The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid.” Hebrews 13:6
It seems pretty clear that I am not supposed to be afraid. I am going to trust myself, and trust my God. I am going to ask for eyes to see, and ears to hear and a discerning heart.”Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…” I am going to believe in God’s abundance and ask for His blessings and raise my hands up ready and expecting … knowing that He wants for me to receive all of His Blessings…but first I have to ask, and then I have to believe. I have to see things through the lens of the Word not the lens of the world.
****I first wrote the above article on March 3, 2011. It is now January 16, 2013 and the Lord has been SOOOO good to me. I have a soul-mate spouse who does love me with all of his heart… and a happy home… and I am still able to run a business in the time that I have available to me (not 9 to 5 or Monday through Friday). Usually I do not tout my business on this blog, but I want to share it with you so that you may at least find a way to save a little bit of valuable money monthly. My goal is to Help. If that means lift your spirits, or calm your worries or pad your wallet with a few extra dollars, then that will make me exceedingly happy. The link to my business website is www.prepaidphoneopportunity.com. Peace.