“Where are your accusers? Are there any left?”
“Then neither do I accuse you.”
Thank you. Thank for listening abilities and your instinct to solve a problem. But sometimes just listening and understanding how this feels is good enough. We don’t typical need you to solve a problem for us, we just need to know you don’t think we are the problem.
Sometimes it your skeptical looks and brash words seem more against us than the actual problem itself. Nothing is worse than having to fight on all sides, and having an internal battle as well. If you’ve got our back, then find the sincerest way to say just that. Like all human beings sometimes we self-implode. Don’t freak out. Don’t critique us while we’re down, because we’ll never forgot the words of someone we once trusted. We’ll rebuild. We’re resilient. But if you wrong us, you’ve poisoned your own self.
Sometimes it’s better to be harmless, instead of helpful. Sometimes.
You maybe over thinking this “leadership” thing just an ounce too much. It’s not really about one person being higher than others. It’s not really about men being above woman. It’s not really about being the front-man, and it certainly isn’t about discarding childhood dreams of superheroes, Pirates, Knights, G.I. Joe guys, inventors, or incredible athlete. The world needs people who understand how to use their own skills, training, minds, hopes, ambition, and heart to become something no one else expected of them.
Someone once said courage isn’t the absence of fear, but merely the decision that something is more important than that fear.
And it takes courage to know what it is to be a man without someone else specifically telling you what that means. But take a look around! There’s a lot of bad advice and bad results, but you, you are not a statistic. You are the real deal. You are the one in million chance to change the course of history by doing and being only that good which you were made to do.
We’ve all been through bad things on various levels, and for those of us who have made it today…we still have a chance. A chance to be different than before, different than we’ve seen, different than the fate that’s been handed to us. But it takes practice and persevance. …Maybe that’s why I’m writing? Maybe you didn’t know, but you need to know: you’re not alone.
I took a peek at what it must be like to be you. You can’t imagine the outrage anger I felt. Well…maybe if anyone can imagine it’s you. I don’t know how to say it any other way, expect to say you’ve been lied too. Bombarded with lies, from what I’ve seen. There’s more arranged truth falling under the titles of “modern man” and “biblical manhood” than is fathomable for any truth seeker.
You’re not alone.
Even if you think you’re made to be a leader, out front, you’re not alone.
Not that you understand us or want us, but we’re here. Not that we’re going to make you drink tea and dress up, unless you’re into that kind of thing. Not that we need a hero, but that we’d welcome the one that you are. Not that you’d understand this…but you were never alone. We were always part of you, and when you push us away, you’re ripping off a piece of your chest, a piece of your core, and tossing it aside. God… That has to hurt!
But we were made to work together.
You know that crazy piece of scripture? “Neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female…for all are on in Christ Jesus.” That’s how it was in the original design, all one, working together, distinctly different but still one. And that what Messiah came to redeem “the restoration of all things”.
So when someone tells you to be a man by standing out in front as the leader, or to be a gentleman by opening the doors. Guess what? We do that too. And we do it because we come from your created life. We don’t come from the dirt that you were formed from, we come from you. We’re meant to be along side you. We were assigned to the same post. We were together once. We were together until the day Adam disowned us.
Once we were “bone of my bone…flesh of my flesh” then another terrible day we became “that woman you gave me”. In between we were always together. Even sin and shame didn’t separate us. It wasn’t until a man disowned a woman that history bore this ever ugly scar. Now… They try to keep us apart. How terrible!
I’m not sure what to say. I think you’re still mad. Christ Jesus came to bring a restoration of all things, but so many “Christian leaders” would rather die saying “that woman” than to ever acknowledge the oneness of “bone of my bone…”
What has happened to us? Sin and shame didn’t separate us. A curse didn’t separate us. What happened to us? The worst part is to see you …angry, alone, accusative, agitated, vindictive, and emtpy. You can do some much more than that. You were built from order, fruitfulness, life-giving substance, solid materials. You are made as something which is very good. But you haven’t been told that, have you?
I am telling you.
We were made for more than we’ve been told. The simple wisdom of God offers more than the rearranged truth that has been published in the name of big-name, multi-million selling Christian authors. You don’t need someone to interpret the Bible for you. Persevance and a pure heart will reveal truth.
It’s like I said earlier, it’s not about one person being over another, I’m not trying to tell you what to do. I’m just a small voice of many. I’ve seen the shackles, the pain, the contortion on your face… You’re not yet become who you were created to be, and it’s because you’re missing a basic feature. Bone. Flesh. Heart.
You weren’t made for a platform, a pedestal, an isolating position. Your job isn’t to gain money, protect, lead. Your purpose is tend, care for, collaborte …with us…working together. We’re not a stepping block. We’re not weaker (believe me if we were weaker we would have stood up under these millenniums of oppression.). We are not inherently sinful or stupid. We are not “that woman you gave me”. We are partners in truth, in caring for, tending to, collaborating with. We are bone, flesh, heart. We are the second beauty that God created as very good. Second like an update, not like second place. We don’t know second place. We only know how to share first place. …or nothing.
Yeah it hurts to get kicked aside, but we learned it happens. We tell our daughters, nieces, granddaughters that it will happen. We are resilient. But you… Is it the same for you?
Is it enough to fellowship with other earthen-made vessels or would it be cooler to see a side of yourself present in a totally different way. “Bone of my bone…flesh of my flesh”? Would it be cool if two separate components could become one, strong, focus, ecstatic force of good? That’d be some “leader” wouldn’t it? That’d be some life. That’d be so uniquely original.
Division was never really God’s thing. So why support it now? If Christ came to restore all thing, why not work towards that now?
No one wants to take your place. I just thought you might like someone to stand next to you. I don’t want you to miss out just because you thought it’d be more manly. God didn’t think it was manly to be alone, but… If it’s working for you… Go ahead. Just know we’re still here, whether you wants us or not, because we were made for this. And we were made very good.
Here’s a phrase that causes my hair to bristle down my spine (so to speak), “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.”
Really it’s cute little phrase, however I believe it’s highly misdirected. Women are often told this is the standard for them to live up to. This is the stigma for what wife really ought to be. Just so we’re clear: It’s not.
Actually I have no idea how anyone reads the previous 30 chapters of Proverbs, a book of wisdom, parables, & idioms, and then comes to chapter 31 and suddenly it’s suppose to be freakishly literal? OR… maybe there’s something we’ve missed? (like maybe the previous 30 chapters of Proverbs and their writing style)
How about we take a chance to talk a little bit about how Proverbs 31 isn’t about a woman or all women, but it’s about the church, the Bride of Christ? How about talking about the beautiful poetry and idiom used in Proverbs 31 to hide God’s wisdom from those who call themselves “wise & insightful” and authors, but instead revealed it to the least of these, “the lost generation” …me… maybe you? Maybe whoever is willing to consider these things without looking for a quick & cheap version. Whoever has the time to read all 31 chapters of Proverbs and therefore has built insight and humbleness, so that they can have their hearts ready for the most outstanding mystery of all: the church.
“She is far more precious than jewels.”
Jesus seems to come across the issue of money and what to do with it rather frequently. Strangely enough I don’t think Dave Ramsey or any other “money saver”, budge-lover is going to quote much of Jesus. When Jesus says cool things like,
“I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings”
“So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?”
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
It’s very different approach than the most trusted name-brand Christian teaching, which is elapsed in weirdness by the fact the Proverbs 31 say of the Bride of Christ that “she” is more far more precious than jewels. …or riches or wealth or money or the pathetic things we usually (even if secretly) find our own worth in it.
Yet it starts to make sense that “she” is more far more precious than jewels, when you think of Jesus saying, “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
“God’s kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field for years and then accidentally found by a trespasser. The finder is ecstatic—what a find!—and proceeds to sell everything he owns to raise money and buy that field.”
Indeed these are the description of things that are much more precious than jewels! This dedicate you’re whole life, get-down-on-your-knees goodness. This is the church, the Bride of Christ, uniting with Christ and bring the Kingdom of God upon the earth. St Paul calls this a “profound mystery” the uniting of the church & Christ. Indeed, although weaves a beautiful pattern to make it clear throughout the whole Bible, we rush pass the big picture to find “what can I get out of this” and certainly such an attitude will not bring us to being united with anyone or anything. Yet we’re here now, let’s consider a few things.
One of my favorite phrases in Proverbs 31 is, “She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens”
This isn’t about being a workaholic. This is about the church who finding itself in dark times arises and becomes that which she was always made to be. Often many modern “fundamentalist” consider the first many chapters of the book of Acts to be the image of what church is suppose to be. Ironically, this “first century church” is really just the Deuteronomitcal church, mean that is what God’s people were told to be back in the book of Deuteronomy. It isn’t a new pattern, but a solid classic pattern of who God’s people were always meant to be. That’s probably one contributing reason why it really took off at that time. It was probably the most Hebraic thing those Jews had ever seen! And in a world where the Roman/Greek culture was threatening the stability of Jewish culture at all, it must of been some crazy revolution to start being truly Hebraic at that time. A really back-to-the-roots kind of moment!
One time someone pointed out to me how in the stories of Jesus life they always have these phrase “then the next day Jesus went here” “then the next day” “then the next day” but when Judas betrayed Jesus suddenly the authors happen to record “and it was night“. Indeed nothing feels like the darkest times, such as night, like betrayal. Yet in Proverbs 31 “she” gets up at night and does what she always does.
Many of the old preachers get up there and say how these are dark times, the last days, things are getting worse, ect. I’m sure if you’ve had to sit in church for a year or better, you’ve heard these things more than a few times. …But so what!? If we are the church, let’s get arises. Let’s get to it. There’s work to be done.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” -Galatians 6:9-10
“She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.”
– Proverbs 31:13-20
Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
– Isaiah 55:1-2
This is the image of the church. This has always been the image of God’s people. This isn’t just something God does, but it’s something he asks us to do as the Bride of Christ. Because God is relational, this is something that God wants us to be in on too. Yes God can and will do these things alone if necessary, however we are fortunate enough to find that God doesn’t find it necessary but is willing to include us.
What we do as the people of God is a big deal to God. Jesus makes that super clear when he tells the parable know as “the sheep and the goats” in Matthew 25:31-46. God wants to be in on what God is doing around us, yet we can choose to say “oh that not my thing” “that’s not my calling” and if that’s what we choose God will let us make that choice. Because it is the willingness of our hearts that make “our thing”. It the willingness in our hearts that will make it so that we feel it’s necessary for us to be what God is continuously describing in the Bible. It’s the willingness in our hearts that makes us to see that what we have obtained through Christ Jesus is profitable for those around us. They need it, we got it. but we have it to share it.
There’s this crazy beautiful, poetic, heart-wrenching verse that says,
“You (God) will arise and have compassion on Zion,
for it is time to show favor to her;
the appointed time has come.
For her stones are dear to your servants;
her very dust moves them to pity.”
– Psalms 102:13-14
It ought to be the church who is the servant who has compassion & pity about this “dust” & “stones” of Zion. It ought to be the church, because it’s God’s compassion and it’s God’s chosen time to favor his sweet Zion.
And Zion is much more than just the church, but that’s for another time perhaps.
Here’s perhaps one of the most bold and otherwise crazy statements in Proverbs 31:
“She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. … She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.”
I can only begin to guess at this bold phrase.
It brings to mind the famous Isaiah 1:13 which states: “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.”
This is forgiveness, redemption, and beautiful freedom all wrapped up into one. It’s like the church isn’t afraid of the dark, it isn’t afraid of the cold, it isn’t afraid of the systems which the principalities can throw-down, because the church (the people of God) are washed clean of this world’s sentiments and wrapped up in God’s wisdom and Christ redemption. We have nothing to fear in these times, or the times to come. It’s like this tiny bold phrase is talking about the stuff that the saints and martyrs are made out of. …the beauty of holiness, the tears of Zion, maybe that’s what it means when it say “or all her household are clothed in scarlet“. It’s joy just to read this mystery and consider the deep implications of what we are and what we can be as the Bride of Christ, as the church, as the people of God.
“Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.”
I find no way to mistake this as any other great man, than the Messiah himself. The judges always sat at the gates, and of course Jesus is given all authority & power to be the judge of all. Could it be anyone other the he who is betrothed the Bride of Christ, Jesus Christ himself? The reference seems so plain to me.
“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”
Again we have a vivid picture of what the church truly looks like. An intrinsically familiar picture that can’t be disfigured by modern systems that call themselves “church” but then don’t apply these same characteristics. The church who speaks the words of God through the wisdom of God that speaks a language that our spirits can actually connect with when deep calls unto deep. And yet it’s not just talk, it’s for real. This something that’s so familiar, even though it’s sadly so foreign in our modern society.
“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”
This is the successful story, or end of the story, when it all comes together. When Jesus receives a glorious bride who’s innocent & blameless & without stain, as it’s said it will be, then indeed those who are preserved by the perseverance of the saints, and also Jesus Christ himself, may in that day both truly say how they’ve longed for this beautiful occasion to come. This is an opportunity we have in front of us, if we choose to seek God, seek truth, and dwell in the beauty & wisdom of the Bible. Then we might just be the people of God act like that which God has created us to be from the beginning.
…Working together as a people of God, as we preserve God’s words & wisdom by investing them into the next generation, by living them out in our own lives, by working together, and by believing in God’s wisdom above & beyond any great worldly advice or temptation. Then, indeed, that’d most likely be a era where such a proclamation as “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all” would be heard. Let’s strive to give God this opportunity, and the kids of the future this opportunity. Let’s not steal from them what ought to rightfully be there, and that being the chance to make this declaration in the times to come.
Indeed we can only end with: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.”
Again I simply state that God has called us into a working relationship with him. Although God is perfectly capable of running history and the whole Earth (universe really) on his own, that’s simple not what God wants to do. God wants to work with his creation (you & me) and God wants us to take part in the privilege of setting things right. We can choose to mindlessly go with the systems of the world or systematized “church”, but God has a greater calling on our lives than those wisdoms can perceive. Yet for those who seek, for those who are willing God gives his Holy Spirit to counsel and direct our spirit, and lead us through the Bible, teaching us to be the people whom God has always meant for us to be.
There is hope beyond the cliches and truisms that we’ve been taught, and pray there’s enough life left in us to seek it out, to find it, and to emerse ourselves in God’s words & wisdom. Let’s we merely become a people who keep repeating our forefathers mistakes. …and therein we’d truly become the lost and the last generation.
Proverbs 31 it isn’t about a woman, it isn’t about how women or females should be. It’s about us as the Bride of Christ, the church, the people of God. It’s us being what God has always meant for us to be. It’s possible. It’s different. It’s perfect. We can do perfect when we do it together.
Love & grace,
Is it too bold for me to stay everyday is not perfect?
Honesty can be bold, but so can a lie. I happen to think there’s something about boldness and strength that cause for people to poke & prod, to test and disrespect for no other reason than the see something that appears odd to them. Maybe this contempt comes from the fact that the boldness of honesty can be mimicked by a lie as well?
I do try to ponder these things. For as much as I try to live honestly before people, from those very same people I am too often (meaning it happens at all), accused of being false or faulty in grievous ways by people I trusted. It’s like a quick character shanking, and they look at me with perfectly normal contentment while I bleed a little. What just happened?
I remember for years and years I had an emotional involved flirty-friendly relationship with this one guy who I thought at some point we’d be dating and maybe even contently married at some time. It would of made a great story or movie someday! But there were definitely problems. He never had the guts to really ask me out or just tell me how he felt one way or another with earthquaking honest. Instead the relationship was maintained through hints and flirts, emotional deep involvement and little teasing affections. It was fun, it was an adventure, and I love adventures.
But it had other problems. Many different times he suggested I was too tough, too boyish, too closed-off, too…whatever, and back then that really hurt. Well, the memory hurts a little knowing how I so deeply felt for him at that time and knowing he treated me in this kind of way. I didn’t understand what I lacked, but I tried everything that I could, still being me but bending to what those suggestions said I should or shouldn’t be.
As I recall, the bending hurt worse, partially because he never loved me anymore for it. Instead there was something else that was wrong. Sometimes I’d continue to change for him, other times I’d get upset at him, but the cycle was on & on for years and years.
There did come a time where I finally I started to understand, it really wasn’t what I was lacking that this guy didn’t like; it was actually something I had a lot of but didn’t realize it: strength. I was too strong for the timid spirit he had. About 7 years into this mess I realize that he didn’t actually Love me. Maybe the idea of what he imagined me to be, he loved, but not actually me. It was the last piece of the puzzle I needed to close that chapter of my life and start rebuilding myself honestly.
side note: I think it was about 2 months later I meet my husband for the first time.
I learned a hard beautiful lesson from that mess, and for that much I am thankful. The memory itself still contains some pain, but I think what hurts is realizing this isn’t just one story that happened “once upon a time” in the past somewhere. Unfortunately I am still prone to people telling me what’s wrong with me. Even people I trust and love and adore will at times tell me what to do and who to be, and not always to my own benefit; sometimes only for their own sake. Sometimes to make them feel more comfortable with the image they have of what will happen and how things should be. …and that hurts at times. But I am just tough enough to remember this hard lesson and what I’ve learned up to this point, and from there make consider what must be done next.
I also learned it is up to me to know my heart precisely and to follow it.
That’s difficult, you know?
If I do succeed at this, then that’s all the more reason for people to tell me that I don’t listen, I’m just hiding, I’m closed off, I … I lack. I lack something that I can only receive from the wisdom of others.
…And that’s almost true.
I am a big believer in communal life. I am! But your heart… Your heart isn’t for everyone. Your heart is your personal space. You decide what goes in there and what stays in there. It must be guarded and tended to. It must be refined and renewed. It is the wellspring of life. It must be kept from polluters, which means you must know your own heart and not let anyone else define it for you.
By “heart” I do mean your core-being. Your emotions, your character, your internal spirit, your vices & virtues, these all come from the heart, your core and inner most self.
When you tend to these things, you can begin to live honestly from your core-character. You can know your own heart and follow it to the greatness you’re meant to be. But sometimes… just sometimes, when you’re strong enough to tend to your core and be healthy in the inmost parts, people will be accusatory towards you. Stay.
Stay strong. Stay where you are.
If you fall to pieces, fall right where you are, but don’t move, shift, or reassign yourself because of such attacks. If there’s anything to found or corrected it’ll be right where you are. Don’t move.
Don’t move until you’re strong enough to stand up and start walking again, following your heart again. Stay where you are.
So in the words of Martin Luther, when he was on trial, I say: “Here I stand, God help me. I can do no other.”
Here I am.
Is that too bold?
I truly am thirsty for you, my God.
In my heart, I am thirsty for you, the Living God.
When will I see your face?
Day and night my tears are my only food,
as everyone keeps asking,
“Where is your God?”
When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and praise,
With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.
Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
For the help of His countenance.
When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you,
From Jordan depths to Hermon heights, including Mount Mizar.
Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls;
All Your waves and billows have gone over me.
Every day, you are kind,
and at night you give me a song as my prayer to you,
the Living LORD God.
Sometimes I ask God, my rock-solid God,
“Why did you let me down?
Why am I walking around in tears, harassed by enemies?”
They’re out for the kill, these tormentors with their obscenities,
Taunting day after day, “Where is this God of yours?”
Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
I trust you!
And I will praise you again because you help me,
and you are my God.
Without the help of the Lord
it is useless to build a home
or to guard a city.
It is useless to get up early
and stay up late
in order to earn a living.
God takes care of his own,
even while they sleep.