Every morning, well, almost every morning, I walk. I walk at least 2 miles back and forth in my driveway. Some days I can’t wait to get out there and feel like a fit, go-getter gal. But most days I just want to think about walking and have the results just magically appear. Thinking is effort, right? Can someone get on that for me so we can fast-track thinking = effort? Anyone?
Anyway, while I walk I think. Usually I’m listening to some REALLY good book, but about 30 minutes in my mind starts to wander and I have to back up my book and re-listen to what just played. Right now that doesn’t seem to bother me much as the book I just wrapped up this morning was REALLY good and deserves a relisten. Lysa TerKeurst, Unglued. Look it up. Read it. (Or listen to it.) It hit on several really good points, but the biggest point that hit me is a subject I’ve always struggled with.
I’m a God-fearing, God-loving gal, and I want to be the kind of person that God wants me to be, but I tend to get in my own way on that. There is one Chapter in the Bible that talks about the ideal woman, Proverbs 31. (Interestingly that is the name of the author’s ministry.) I’ll post the passage here;
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.
She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
~ Proverbs 31:10-31
Oh I try. I try. I try. But as much as I strive to be this woman, I’m not. I read it and I think, obviously this woman has everything going perfect in her life. This is like the biblical version of a fashion model cover.
But then I think what a horrible person I am for thinking this! This is in the bible for goodness sake! And I usually honestly admit that I don’t have what it takes to rise to this level. But, then again, it’s not all up to me. God will mold me to become this godly woman if I allow him.
But, back to the book. In the book Unglued, Lysa talks about this exact issue! Whew! I felt like I belonged in her circle for a moment. She shared all these things she struggles with to become the Proverbs 31 woman and how hard it is! Our worlds are not perfect and the people in them aren’t perfect either. They push our buttons and sometimes they just push us over the edge.
To be honest, my life more closely follows another chapter 31 in the Bible, Psalms 31:
In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.
Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.
Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.
I hate those who cling to worthless idols; as for me, I trust in the Lord.
I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.
You have not given me into the hands of the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place.
Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief.
My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak.
Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbors and an object of dread to my closest friends— those who see me on the street flee from me.
I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery.
For I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side!” They conspire against me and plot to take my life.
But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me.
Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.
Let me not be put to shame, Lord, for I have cried out to you; but let the wicked be put to shame and be silent in the realm of the dead.
Let their lying lips be silenced, for with pride and contempt they speak arrogantly against the righteous.
How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you.
In the shelter of your presence you hide them from all human intrigues; you keep them safe in your dwelling from accusing tongues.
Praise be to the Lord, for he showed me the wonders of his love when I was in a city under siege.
In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.
Love the Lord, all his faithful people! The Lord preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full.
Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.
Regardless of how I feel about anything, I should be striving to be a good, godly woman. It’s hard these days. I once heard someone say that women in this day and age are doomed. We are expected to be career women and ceiling breakers, all while still being the housewife of the 50’s with a constantly clean house, home- cooked dinners on the table each night, and not one stitch of dirty clothes in the house. It is impossible to conquer both worlds without breaking. Whoever said this was a very smart person as their observations are very true.
It is impossible to be Oprah, Mrs. Cleaver, Laura Croft and Martha Stewart all at the same time, all while looking like something off a magazine cover. I’ve discovered I only have the ability to conquer two of these at a time. I have to pick between my health, my friendships, my relationship with God, my career, and my housekeeping. If I bundle them together like health/relationship with God, and friendship/career, I can float along for a while. But, during that time we have zero clean clothes, the floor in my home looks like something from a zoo, and while I’m eating 3oz hamburgers, the rest of my household is hungry and eating McDonalds. And, I become lonely without real friends to connect with and grow with. It’s a hard time being me in this world, and I’m sure many many many other gals feel the same way.
I learned though, listening to Lysa, is that I don’t have to do those things to be the ideal woman. God makes each of us different. And, even though we might have a messy house and eat out more than we eat in, if our hearts are full of love for others and compassion, and forgiveness, (or at least letting go and not being bitter,) and not being quick to judge or attack, and, at the same time, lovingly deflecting the judgmental attacks on us, we are well on our way to becoming what God wants for us, which in turn brings peacefulness to our souls.
And, we need to learn to gently, but firmly confront the people who push us over the edge. WE are the ones who get hurt the most when we let those people get to us. A quick, good, instant response can clear the air faster than fussing over some incident. Sometimes the result is good, and sometimes the result is bad. Either way it’s at least been discussed out in the open and not just in our heads where thoughts tend to rot.
I’ll admit, it will be a long journey for me, but I think it will be worth it. As a female in this age I have SO MUCH pressure and it’s time that I quit living up to that standard. And, it’s time I quit letting people get to me. There will ALWAYS be people up in my face, so to speak. I need to look beyond what they are doing and try to see why they are doing it and address that issue, or not. I can always just walk away. I can’t help everyone – I need to learn that lesson too, I guess. Let me know your thoughts. Are you struggling with this new millennium pressure too?
Until next time, let’s all learn to enjoy the ups and downs and learn to love ourselves, (and each other,) a little bit more.