Thursday, May 15, 2008

I am Woman ... Hear Me Roar!

Helen Reddy sang this song and became famous for it. Today, I am mulling over, "what does it mean to be a woman?" Over the years, I have seen many people try and define this ... it's been even harder to figure it out within the confines of the church!

Here are some of the things I have seen (and take this a little tongue in cheek ... no offense intended to anyone) ...
A Christian woman ...
- has long hair and wears lots of make up so she looks beautiful ...
- has long hair and wears NO makeup because her beauty should not come from outward adornment
- radiates with a soft glow
- is soft spoken and gentle
- wears dresses
- wears floral dresses
- home schools her children so that they are not influenced by corrupt cultures around them
- has long flowing tresses
- is quiet in church and does not speak ...
- keeps her head covered with scarves
- cooks all the meals for her family
- beats her own wheat to grind her own flour for baking her own bread ...
- never says no to her husband
- knows how to tie scarves 100 different ways to enhance her beauty
- surrenders all financial management to her husband (even if he is terrible at it!)

I could go on and on but by now you get the idea ... every single one of these, I have come accross as being held up by an ideal somewhere along the way in my christian walk! I am not someone who fits any of those moulds! And for a while it was a struggle for me. I asked questions, I challenged status quo and it made people uncomfortable at times!

So, why am I thinking about this? It's another thread that came through while God was speaking to me in Cambodia. Little things kept popping up and when I came home, it came up again. I was walking down the mountain and I sensed God speaking to me about getting more in touch with my feminine side. I actually got the giggles (anyone looking on, would have seen a crazy waygook (Korean word for foreigner) wandering down the mountain laughing hysterically!). My response to him was, "I don't know what that looks like!" I was thinking, "well God, you know!" I then sensed an immediate reply, "Go and look at the Proverbs 31 woman." I had a quicker response to that ... it went something like this: "I am not doing that! She is the woman that makes the rest of us feel completely inadequate. The ideal woman. The woman that half the Bible scholars say is a composite of all the characteristics people want in their ideal woman. Who can live up to that!?" And then I carried on down the mountain laughing even harder!

However, I did check her out again. And this time as I read, I tried to ignore the surface cultural context and take the character principles out of the text. I came up with the following list:
- she works hard
- she brings blessing to those around her
- she shows good judgement
- she is compassionate and generous
- she has strength and dignity
- she is free of anxiety and worry
- she speaks wise words and gives good counsel
- she is watchful and alert and guards that with which God has entrusted her
- she fears God

I also liked the study note on the epilogue of this chapter which says that this woman is almost a personification of wisdom. It says that like wisdom, she is worth more than rubies and that whoever finds her finds favour from God! The commentary on this chapter says that virtuous in this context literally means, "of strength and moral courage." The commentary also brought out a couple of things I missed ...
- diligently attends to expending and gathering wealth (vs 15)
- has strength and honor - good moral character (vs 25)
- wisely manages those under her stewardship (vs 27)

I like this. This Proverbs woman is not the image of the one that I have lived with for years. She is a woman that I would like to be and I don't think she is unattainable.

What does it mean to be a woman? Really, at the heart of it, I think it is about being free to be all who God made you to be - whatever package that comes in!


Karen said...

Oh I hear you babe. I for many years felt I did not fit in with the "mould" and would describe myself as not one who wanted to wear the 'floral button up dresses, have the long hair and no make up, hairy legs and do all the picnics and catering and be demure'. To those who are - I applaud you, but it's just totally not me. I love the character principles you have outlined here and that so grabs me, I want to be like that. Yes to the heart of the matter, the heart of it! Oh this post had me laughing because I'm so not those things - but have to say hubby is the dude in charge of finances, but he is brilliant at it and we are totally on the same page with our views, so that is sooo cool. How did your specialist appointment go? I had to take my daughter to the Dr's this morning - she has croup, was up heaps last night (yawn yawn...I'm too old for these broken nights!). Had a shock there was a plaque on the wall to my former Dr (in his 40's) - he did the antenatal care for me when pregnant with my daughter - well he'd died just before Christmas. I was totally shocked, made me think - so unexpected.

Danifesto said...

So timely that you wrote this! At church the message was all about Pentacost and how the word for the Holy Spirit/Wisdom was Sophia, which was creative and nurturing. In other words- traditionally feminine characteristics.
Anyway good post!

The Olson's: said...

I like the points you pulled out of the Prov. 31 example. I have always liked the portrayal but have so many things to change/improve in order to even slightly compare. But somehow, as I was reading your points I found myself imaging ways I could work on some! Thank you for the encouragement to continue to work on things.

You've really found the heart of the matter!
~ Leanne

freetofly said...

Great points! I completely agree! For the record,, I have always been drawn and (at least at first) repelled at the same time by Proverbs 31. But over a period of years, The Lord really helped me to (like you) look a little deeper. Not rely on other's interpretations. It is now a favorite that I review and claim regularly. I fall woefully short, but, I continue to press on!

Also, I believe that Proverbs 31 is additionally a type of the Body of Christ...but, that's just part of its application.

So good to catch up with you! I will pray for your continued health and that you are refreshed in your time at THE BEACH! :)