Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Post That Began As A Comment

I really do think that I write better comments than posts sometimes.  Something I read strikes a chord in me and the words start pouring out.  And that's the trouble... they pour out.  And it's really too much to leave as a comment on someone else's blog.  Especially when I'm likely to be going off on a tangent they didn't intend.  And I don't want to hijack their message, you know?  So I think I should write about it here, but that's somehow more intimidating.  As if when I write something it's somehow set in stone.

But it's not.

I've heard that it's common for women to process their thoughts by talking about them.  You?  Yes, me.  Or, in this case, by writing about them.  So my disclaimer is that when I put something out there, it's not necessarily my final conclusion.  It's in process.    The beta version, if you will.

With that long preamble out of the way...

I was reading my friend Jena's blog recently.  She's leading a women's Bible study.  I don't know if it's on a book of the Bible, or some kind of published study, or what.  But the issue is that many of the women are having trouble believing that God loves women as much as men.  You can read her posts HERE and HERE, along with the comments. 

Her question was, "Does God, at His heart, think of women as any less than men?"

I'm inferring that that's exactly how these women feel - that they are somehow less than men in God's sight.  And why do they think that?

1.  Some women have been messed up (to put it mildly) by the men in their lives.  At the least confused, and at the worst abused by their fathers and/or other men.  We get that.  We understand how that warps one's view of God.  They need love and grace and restoration.  They need to know God's love for them.  And they deeply need to know the truth.

2.  Some women are caught up in the world's perspective, and a good many of them are church women.  But our culture is pervasive and we're like fish who don't know they're wet.  We're more influenced by our culture than we begin to realize.  The antidote is to saturate our minds with God's Word, yah?  And there are also helpful books.  I particularly like Nancy Leigh Demoss' Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free.

Those are probably the biggest and most common reasons for women to doubt God's love, in my opinion.  But I think there's another more subtle problem.

(And Jena, don't think for a moment I'm implying you're guilty of this - my zany, clever, creative, hedge-hog friend!)

3.  Some women are involved with churches (or other religious groups) that are fighting the culture so hard, they've reacted by swinging the pendulum way over to the other side.  They're entangled in a bunch of extraneous restrictions and expectations.  They're burdened with a role that has little or nothing to do with Biblical womanhood.  And it's like an itchy suit that doesn't fit, and they want out of it.

Which I understand all too well.

I was in a church that was heading down that path, and had I stayed I don't know how my faith would have survived.  There was always a not-so-subtle current floating around that said, "If you were really doing God's best, you would... "

Because really godly women sewed their own clothing (mostly jumpers), ground their own wheat for their own homemade bread, had soft wispy voices, long hair, and long skirts, read Jane Austen, liked tea parties, and harp music, and knitted or crocheted.  And - of course - courted, married, and had a full quiver of children.

Other women need not apply.

Now, there's not a thing wrong with sewing clothes, grinding wheat, drinking tea, yadda yadda yadda.  But that is NOT the definition of Biblical womanhood.  And trying to squeeze all Christian women into that mold is wrong, wrong, WRONG.

Some wise, godly, Christian women are exuberant and outgoing.  And (*gasp!*) even outdoorsy, or mechanically inclined.  Some wise, godly, Christian women would rather make furniture than crochet.  Would rather read P. J. O'Rourke than Bodie Thoene.  And would actually rather go to a BBQ or go camping or to the dentist, than to a tea party.

I got an invitation recently to a Mother-Daughter Tea.  (Someone didn't get the memo that I have three boys...)  The invitation addressed the ladies first, and concluded with this:

And if you're a little lady, bring your doll and practice mothering in the doll corner, or color paper dolls and color sheets. Then join other girls around the harp and lift your silvery voices in song...

In your frilly dress, white tights, and patent Mary Janes, no doubt.

Now you may be thinking, "Oh, how lovely!" And good for you.  Have at it.

But I can tell you, as a child I would have suffocated in that atmosphere.  And quite possibly even now.

And I have to wonder if some of these women are struggling with being loved and accepted by God because they don't fit the mold.

I know Jena wasn't asking why women feel God loves them less than men, but I think it's worth asking that first.  Because which ever (if any) of those categories we fit, we all need God's truth.  But some women need more tenderness, some need their thinking challenged, and some just need to be set free.


Update from Jena, HERE.

FRIENDS:  I appreciate all your comments.  This morning there were 15 waiting and I realized that some were duplicates - or nearly duplicates.  Because I have comment moderation on, you may not realize it will be posted eventually?  Or sometimes it may tell you your comment is too long, but it actually is accepting it anyway.  If I got multiple same/similar comments from the same person I have tried to publish the most representative one.

BUT, if I inadvertently deleted what you wanted to say, I'm sorry!  Leave it again and I'll post it.

Thanks for your patience.

17 comments:

The dB family said...

You my friend, are brilliant!! Love, love love this! You raise some very good thoughts and questions. I'm not going to say too much here as I have some thoughts and opinions on this to and are too detailed to put in a comment either. Thank you though for sharing your thoughts!!

Blessings!
Deborah

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Deborah,

You (and my other bloggy friends) are welcome to leave comments. I trust you to agree or disagree like sisters (or brothers?) in the Lord.

Or if you decide to blog about it, let me know and I'll link your post at the bottom :D

Julie

leah said...

LOVE love love love this.

God knew what he was doing when he gave me boys (bring on the dirt)!

Sometimes, I read Proverbs 31 and feel rather defeated. I certainly don't always get up while it is still dark... though I do bring food home from the grocery store, and sometimes it feels like it is "food from afar!" :0)

For me, there are so many indications that God loves women equally well as he loves men is in the ministry of Jesus. In an era where women were treated vastly different than they are today, Jesus walked right up to the Samaritan woman at the well and asked her for water. Women traveled with his disciple group, and some were named (Luke 8).

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Leah - you're right!

And something I didn't mention in the post... the lot of women, in general, is VASTLY better in "Christian" countries than, for example, in Muslim countries.

For instance, my dad was in Turkey several years ago. In the countryside he would see women at work in the fields, carrying heavy loads... hard manual labor. And then in the villages, men sitting around drinking and smoking.

He asked them, "Aren't those your wives out in the fields working? Why are you sitting here and they're working?"

Careless shrugs. "They're women."

Quite a difference, yah?

Ruby said...

this is a great post, Julie and your third point is spot on. This is a much needed point in some church circles and seems to breed in the home birth/ home school/ home church arena. I do not condemn each of these or the home based life style but sometimes the stiffling requirements and man made "rules" which go with them are just so far from biblical truth. I believe you are right. This is possibly making some women very doubtful of God's great and elevated position of womanhood.
Thanks for these thoughts today!

Cathy M. said...

I had a good friend who started off in a movement which I'll describe as traveling along a road with a wheel in the ditch. Such movements have a rather predictable trajectory; so now, the family of 13 (Oye!) have all four wheels in the ditch and are sucking passing motorists in like a black hole. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun. Paul wrote the book of Galatians for people long ago who were veering into the exact same ditch. Great post... very edifying.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

I have no problem with Christians who want to live a certain lifestyle for themselves.

My dad likens it to a fence. God has fenced us in, for our own good! And if you want to build a smaller fence for yourself (or your family) that's your business. But to tell other Christians they need to climb inside your fence is a different matter.

melanie said...

Very thought-provoking, Julie (&Jena) ~ Yah, I definitely think out loud on paper/computer ~ much too much usually.
I am saddened by this evidence of some women's doubts of God's faithful love.
Many good comments as well on Jena's blog.
I'm thankful for my earthly father ~ it's an easy comparison for me to understand how dependable my Heavenly Father is, even though I may displease or dishonor Him.
I'm also thankful not to be in a group you describe in #3 ~ although I do do a lot of those things. I don't feel bound my them as part of my "religion" if you know what I might mean(?)

And I'll quit before I exceed the character limit... =)

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Ah, Melanie, I don't "hear" that kind of pressure from you at all! You're one (of many bloggy buddies) I'd love to have next door :o)

And I too thank the Lord for my earthly parents. Sure, they're not perfect, but they've only helped my faith and not hindered it by their words and actions.

We are blessed!

Organizing Mommy said...

I agree! Are you relieved? Actually, you have a very common sense approach to it all. If we just stay with God's word, he doesn't lead us down the "molded path"--there is plenty of room for godly womanhood in each personality--however that works it self out. Yes, I never fit into those high conformity circles either LOL! Thanks for praying for my girls. I think they are getting it!! God does love women, and that is beautiful thing.

Rachael Starke said...

Oh Julie, I literally gasped when I read that question. What a tragic thing to be unsure of! If I can ever finish my latest post (which is once again turning into a series), I'm going to just offer up about eighty-four verses about God's love for us.

That being said, though, your third point really nails it. The Reformed community is full of women (in particular) who are trusting in their identity as homeschooling, coupon-clipping, wool growing and sweater knitting mothers who literally never leave their homes, than they do in Christ. It's downright dangerous. I have one dear friend I fully expect to visit in a mental hospital one day because of the burden of expectations she's bearing, especially from her husband.

/mild rant

Oh, and is that a word for word quotation from that invitation? "Silvery voices in song? Oh just gag me with a silver teaspoon. ;)

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Jena - you don't HAVE to agree with me, I just wanted you to know I don't consider you part of the problem!

Rachael - yes. That is a direct quote. And I had the same response.

Anonymous said...

Julie...I have tried to post three times...I hope it hasn't gone through and it just seems it didn't. Here goes again.

Hi Julie,
I am almost certain this topic is one of the 'hottest' topics one could pic to 'rant' on. It is full of so many smaller issues and full of so many areas that one can be led to do too much assuming...me being the guiltiest.
I belong to a church of, maybe, 200 people. But within in this church we have women much like you describe...and we have women who by this worlds standards dress 'very well' ...and we have those in between (me). We are all encouraged by our Pastor to walk as God is leading you and walk in peace with those you 'notice' are not walking as God is leading YOU but walking as God is leading them. And yes there are many conversations that flow in the attempt to 'understand' each other. I am an old tomboy...I don't think I was ever interested in playing with dolls. I loved sports ...though my body,now, belies that truth. But I never wanted to be anything but a wife and mother. I am opinionated and strong-willed....and by the AMAZING grace of God I am slowly(and of course painfully) being conformed into the likeness of Christ. The thing is that I am convinced this is more a matter of the heart than it is anything else. CAN WE do as Christ commanded...and live in peace as brothers and sisters in Christ...EVEN WITH all the different 'opinions' ...those things that are not defined specifically (type of clothing, food, housing etc)in the Bible? Because THAT is what the church body should do.
Here is an example of what I think is the 'wrong' attitude...(I pick this one because it is one that I have used to keep ME inline with what I believe is right)..I was speaking to a couple at our church about what 'modesty' meant. She is one who dresses 'very well...classy...in style" but I would not say she is immodest. One of his responses was "I don't think my wife has to walk around in a gunny sack to be modest". Now that is fine except that the implication was that 'some' in our local body do that. While it is true that some choose to wear the jumpers and not form fitting dresses they are NOT gunny sacks...they are very well made and nice. We are so proud in our hearts.... we become course in our words and thoughts. I love this woman...whom I was talking with...and I love the few that dress as they 'inferred' was 'silly' just by their tone of voice. THAT is the sin. Not HOW they dress or how the others dress...but the attitude...the lack of kindness and love shown by our words and heart. The 'gunny sack' wearing women can be just as brutal and unkind. And that is sin.
I LOVE that our pastor tells us to love as Christ loved us. And for the most part that is what I see in our church. I know that God will bring our unkind words home to roost ...to root it out. The man I that said that didn't say anything I hadn't said...but hearing it from him hit me hard...pierced my wicked heart. I am thankful God has given me this very blantant example of what 'meanness' is...and what I need to do to not be that way. I have some dear dear friends that love all the kind of things I don't...sewing, cooking, (I have to confess I LOVE having tea parties with them) ... and I love them and they love me. And as iron sharpens iron so man sharpens man. WE NEED EACH OTHER!
There you have it... my 'rant' ... I am NOT by any stretch of the imagination down the path of perfection very far. BUT we ALL have the same GOD the same Saviour...WHO PROMISES to bring us to completion. And part of that is learning to walk in love with ALL His people. It is NOT easy...our flesh is always with us.
I sure appreciate your blogs...and I love seeing other sisters in Christ striving to love as He loves us.
BY HIS GRACE! Diane of Salem way!

Craig and Heather said...

Julie,
As a man, I was wondering if I should comment, as I do have some thoughts here, but try to refrain from commenting on ladies' blogs. Don't want to overstep my bounds.

But when you said this, "You (and my other bloggy friends) are welcome to leave comments. I trust you to agree or disagree like sisters (or brothers?) in the Lord." I decided to go ahead.

In Ephesians 5 as Paul discusses Husband / Wife relationship he says this:

Eph 5:32 ESV
(32) This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

I believe that the marriage relationship is a picture of Christ and the Church in the same way that the Tabernacle and even the furnishings in it were pictures of heavenly things. This is what that verse means. Marriage isn't about us, it is a picture of Christ and the Church. We are just reflecting. And what an honor that is!

If (I should say "since") this is true, than women are an integral part of that picture, and the way we as husbands love our wives is to reflect the love Christ has for all of us.

Somehow when I read Philippians 2, and see Christ's love and sacrifice for us, I can't get the picture of tromping across the freshly mopped floor in my muddy boots, putting my feet on the coffee table, turning on the game, and saying, "Woman, bring me my dinner!"

No, Christ emptied Himself, and died for us.

I think it is a travesty that we in conservative circles make sure to hammer on the "submissive wife" refrain from Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3, but miss the main point of reflecting Christ's love for His bride. We of all people should get it right on this one!

Does God love women? Absolutely! They are created to be our (men's) opportunity to show the world John 3:16, and Phil. 2.

Can't comment on the tea party thing, you ladies will have to handle that one.

:)

Craig

Craig and Heather said...

Julie,
My first comment was too large, so I'll condense it.

My thought as I read this was that in Eph. 5 where Paul discusses the marriage relationship, he says this.

Eph 5:32 ESV
(32) This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

My understanding of this verse is that marriage isn't mainly about us. It is about reflecting Christ and the Church, like the Ark of the Covenant reflected Heavenly truth. The marriage relationship is to reflect Christ's love for his bride.

So I think it is a travesty that we in conservative circles especially tend to harp on the "submissive wife" routine, but miss the main point. We are to reflect Christ, and His love for His bride. (Think John 3:16, or Philippians 2)

Does God love women? Absolutely! He created them in part so that Men would have the special opportunity of reflecting Christ's love for His bride in how we love our wife!

Craig

Herding Grasshoppers said...

FRIENDS : I appreciate all your comments. This morning there were 15 waiting and I realized that some were duplicates - or nearly duplicates. Because I have comment moderation on, you may not realize it will be posted eventually? Or sometimes it may tell you your comment is too long, but it actually is accepting it anyway. If I got multiple same/similar comments from the same person I have tried to publish the most representative one.



BUT, if I inadvertently deleted what you wanted to say, I'm sorry! Leave it again and I'll post it.



Thanks for your patience.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

And Craig, I'm glad to have a brother weighing in here from time to time.

I don't view myself as a teacher, in any case, and rarely make posts like this. Preferring to leave it to others more wise than I!

In this case, I'm hoping to be an encouragement to other women like me... striving to follow God and rejoice in who He made us, but who don't fit the stereotypical model.