What Does Relating Have to Do with Relationships?

I listened to an interesting video of an orthodox Jewish woman talking about the concept of “Judaism is not a Religion, It’s a Relationship”. What a familiar phrase. Yet there’s good evidence in the roots of Judaism for such a concept. I watched to see what she’d say.  Not much, I’m afraid.

We don’t understand relationship. We don’t practice relating. We are a must-do-these, must-be-this, must-be-seen-as such&such. We don’t know about relating, and therefore our best concepts of relationship suffer.

We bend our language to make things fit. We don’t consider what is being said and what needs to be said. Sometime we only know that something should look like this, it should cover that, it should fit across here… but don’t consider the limits of a word or the benefits of that limit.

In the previously mentioned video I heard the woman give different examples of relationship and how we can compare our interacting with God to something similar. The problem came in when some examples were of a relationship, yes, but a tip-toe relationship.

Appeasing isn’t relating.
It maybe done in love, but it still isn’t relating. It isn’t dealing with root issues. It isn’t connecting to how someone other than ourselves might feel and why. If we take enough time to fix the problem, but not enough to consider why the problem arose in the first place, we are just managing one another. It’s not relating.

My husband maybe one unlucky man. He married a woman who wasn’t planning on marrying. He married a woman who straight-face told him she not a believer in “woman submit!” theology.  When he married me, his life began to change, and he didn’t know what he was in for.
Everyday I work with my man on life. Sometimes I feel sorry for him. Many christians marry and their wives are these humble-meek creatures the live to serve and honor their man. I teach him. I don’t mean to do it. It’s not my intention, but yet it’s my goal that he realize who God has created him to be.

He came from a reasonable family, but not one that was going help him become into greatness. In fact they expected him to fail because a few doctors and teachers had critical words to say,  and for some reason I cannot conceive his parents believed those “professionals”.  Yet I meet him as a young man, and something in my spirit recognized his spirit, and fate was sealed.

I think probably everyday in our marriage I ask my man questions. Simple questions, hard questions, rhetorical questions, long-term-thought questions, intraspective questions. I cause for him to work, to search, to rise up. …and he has.
I think a reason that I do this, isn’t because I don’t already love who he, but because I don’t think he has seen who he really is.

We all believe lies about ourselves at different points in our life.
Sometimes we allow those lies to define us. Sometimes we get tired of fighting them when they’re repeated over & over again. Sometimes it’s all we’ve known and we are not aware that they are lies.  And yet, they form us into something we are not. They keep us from being who are meant to be. The stifle beauty that means to gently unfold. Yet we don’t always see them within ourselves. Sometimes it takes someone else who can relate and therein reveal a problem that hasn’t yet been dealt with or considered.

I propose that sometimes, as loved ones, we perpetuate the lies that one we love wears. We mean to treat them with honor and therefore we allow them to continue to cover their shame or hurt (ect.).  But a wound that is covered can still get an infection. It must be treated underneath a clean cloth. …But in relationships… that a hard place to be. It’s a fragile company to keep. It’s deep.

Sometimes it’s easier to allow it to be “their problem” and let them deal with it in their own way. Sometimes others’ wounds remind us of our own, and we too would like to keep that hidden.  But that’s not relating, it’s just managing.

I might also point out, that to dig up wounds for the sake of “healing” them and being a hero or rescuer, can be manipulation or using one another, and that’s not healthy either. There’s no healthy substitute for relating.

It takes learning what it’s like to be in our own skin, or to feel our own bones before we can actual relate to another. And yet…we have this thing called “relationships” were sometimes we just get lost and hide in one another. We don’t always consider what’s it like to be who I am, and what does that have to do with being connected to this person here, who I am in a relationship with. Instead we’re hiding in feelings, schedules, raising a family, making then spending money, plans for the future …and we take very, very little time to consider our soul or the one whom we love, their soul. We just keep passing the days, and we do fine.

I don’t want fine. I don’t want a good life. I don’t want average. …and I don’t want that for my man.  He’s more than that, I know. I’m not sure he knows. Despite my struggles of worth & importance, my spirit knows that my life was made for adventures. I know I could be something that helps others cue into their importance, and I know that it could be world changing. But I have to be able to touch something that’s alive. I have to have life within myself that I believe is unique and intentional for my surroundings.

For me I have to believe in God who believes in me. A God who created be to be some specific in this time and in this generation. For me this is my bases for being able to relate to other people despite any internal struggles, or even because I have those specific internal struggles.  I know I’m not the only one who struggles, and reality has allowed me to connect to something gives me strength to bear the load and shuck the shame.

Relationships were meant to have more relating in them, than what we give credit to them in our modern society. To be able to relate is world changing, life-touching, and life giving. Consider… what does relating have to do with (my) relationships?

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A Modern Woman’s Struggle with Beautiful

I struggle with beautiful.

Sometimes I have a very strong concept of what it means, and I get it. I’m strong. I’m ready. Other times, the interconnectedness of beauty and strength lay me to waste. I am nothing. I have to be strong if I want to beautiful, there is no other choice. This balance is not easily maintained in all stages of life, yet it has been my best solution this far.  What are the options? What is healthy in pertaining to beauty in modern day women?

We must be strong. There is not a second option. Sharing the load is a nice conceptual sentiment with the interlocking of relationships, but some weights are not evenly distributed and it is useless to argue the utopia of other theoretical paradoxes. What happens in the quiet isolating moments of a modern woman who is not strong? Utter ruins? Silent ruins? A cracked foundation? A disappointment? Another wound, another scar? The questions of is it worth getting back up again? The questions of how many more times can I do this? The questions of how long will it continue to be this way? The questions of strength.

Does my value lie in what I can be, and not that which I actual am, in those moments that I am not enough? Do I hope that past value is sufficent to cover a day or a night or era of lacking strength? All I am worth today is who I am, but does it add up at the end of any given day? What is the value of a modern day woman that allows her to feel beautiful even in the midst of weaning strength?

In an age that does not love mysteries, except that they should be solved, corrected, or fixed …in such an age as this, what is the value of the complexity of a woman?

When I work on my body, good results cannot come fast enough. When I long to include others, my desire for true friendship consumingly stands before me. When I hope in this path I’m walking, I am ever-presently aware of my responsibilities and foolishness. My failures and short comings are ever before me like natives and locals of my thought-life, and they never foreigners or tourists in my mind. Agony is present with honest reality. Suffering keeps company with hope. Guilty accompanies bravery. Fear shadows truth.
I am never alone. …but my strength isn’t always sufficient to host this company. My beautiful character can be frazzled, and frazzled is not beautiful.

If I am not strong what value do I have? If I am frazzled what beauty do I have?

As a modern day woman, I could consider the titles that give long-lasting worth, and consider them. I am a sister, an aunt, a wife, a daughter, a friend. But if I choose not to be a mother do I lose points from the worth of being a woman? If I reap disdain as a daughter and a sister, have I decreased my value in this role? If I am pushy as a wife or a friend, then do I represent that despised thing of what a woman ought not be and therein devalue myself and my role? If I am honest with myself, is my outer being depreciated in value at my current age, and therein a wasteful representation of the beauty of a woman?  Can any of my roles add up to being more than a disappointment if my strength lacks for a day or for a moment? Is beauty alive still in the tar pit bog of imperfection and disappointment?

These are the things we cannot ask aloud, lest someone else should feel uncomforted by these thoughts. Our strength, fortitude, and even quiet desperation are the only recognized packaging of beauty.

For those who have a moment of friendlessness, isolation, or self-contempt… I know. I get it. I hurt too.

I can’t always solve a problem in time. I don’t always pick up the signals. I can’t always forget or shrug it off. Wounds acclimate and there isn’t always healing. Sometimes the infection of inadequacy spreads. These all feel like failures. I feel frazzled. My steadiness weans. My need for shelter is meet with contempt for my lack of loveliness and I too am turned away in my weakness and I must learn to care for myself when I have no strength to do so. …because I am a modern woman this has been and will be my fate in many of times.

If I was softer, gentler, kinder, more girly …I would still suffer these fates. But I am strong, rough edged, determined, and at time brutish …and I still suffer these fates. I am a modern day woman with an age-old struggle. I struggle to find my own beauty. I struggle to find it where I found it yesterday. I struggle to know where it will be tomorrow. I struggle to congeal myself within it today.

When I am weak, I am plain and lowly at best. When I suffer, cringe to smile. When I hurt I find no comfort, no value, no super human strength… I just hurt. I am a woman in a modern age, that has not changed as much as it publicizes itself to have changed. I struggle to feel beautiful if I am not strong enough. This is my only worth. There is no second option.

My beauty, my success is I know it’s not just me. I am one face, a name, an honest moment in the history of everyday women. Women whom I love, because I know …I get it… I hurt too. I struggle with beautiful.

Proverbs 31: the Last Great Mystery

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
or
So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?
or
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.
or
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,

Men vs Women …or Not

One of the things I think I take for granted in my life is, I have good men in my life. From time to time as I write, I natural mention my husband. I love him. …like that silly head-spinning, butterfly inside still love him. I laugh at myself sometimes. If I were in a movie, surely something tragic would happen next, because most people don’t believe in these content happily-ever-after-s, there has to be a catch.
But this is life, and with life is confession. I confess that I don’t always consider how much I really love my husband and how blessed I am to have obtained him (and boy was it work to get him!). But when I do consider it, I am amazed at our story together.

Yet my husband is only one good man in my life. I have brothers who I adore, cousins who are caring & fun, friends who are a joy and considerate, and I probably shouldn’t list everybody here. The point is it continue to extend and ripple out from my inner most circle on outwards.

Not that every single person  (or man) I know, love, and appreciate … I am certainly not that generous. However, I’d be foolish not to consider and enjoy the fact that in my life there are many good men.

I remember this one time, when I was 19 or 20ish, my mom said to me “Why do you hate men!?”  I was astonished. I had no idea where this came from. I wonder what my mom meant by that. Yet in this astonishing moment, I looked up at my mom and said with perfect confidence, “Just because I don’t flirtatiously pursue them, doesn’t mean I don’t like them.” My mom was silent. I think this hit the mark of wherever it came from.  I then proceed to tell my mom that while I knew a few jerks who were adding grief to my life, there were plenty of guys I truly appreciated, and to which I listed a few to put her at ease.
To this day I can’t figure where that conversation came from.  Was because I was happily single? Was it because the jerks who were causing problems from me, I stood up to? Was it because I’d spent too much time with a man-hating relative, which concerned my mom that I too might become that? I’ll never know.

What I do know is that some women don’t have the security and support I have. Some women might not have good history and memories of close male relatives. Some women may not have many or any male friends who they could truly trust. I think all of ladies know what it is to be hurt and used. If there is a woman who doesn’t know this (at any age she may be), I pray she never will. It’s terrible that it should be all to frequent.

In general, as people, we hurt each other. But there’s something so fierce about it coming from the opposite sex. It cause some previously unknown age-old hatred to rise up with perfect indignation, and demand the severest actions. Maybe something says “I knew I couldn’t trust him” or maybe something says, “I knew he didn’t really care about me” or maybe it’s something innocent enough to say, “Why is this happening? Why me? Its not suppose to be this way.
We all understand pain and being hurt. We understand wanting to shelter ourselves from this happening again. But maybe we all also understand a strange deep desire to connect and to believe that we have a right to be treated equally in love and the search for love.

Sometimes I think in attempts to make it an “equal playing field” our culture lows the standards so pathetically far, that it isn’t even connecting or relating any more.  Tell me, what is a relationship when there is no actual relating happening in the midst of it?  A -ship? A voyage? An adventure? To where and for what? Why not stick with friend-ship if there’s no further relating in the relationship?

What if
What if lowering the standards isn’t a way to connect or relate? What if we could understand the hurting isn’t of just masking it over? What if there is a reason it hurts? …a reason deeper than one person hurting another person. What if there’s something to this “age-old hatred” that needs to be tamed and healed before we just simple move on to the next one? What if it really is not suppose to be this way? What could we have been missing all this time?

In the Bible, in Genesis chapter 3, there’s this story that changes history. Most people see the story as “sin enters the world”, but then, to be honest, most people can’t actually describe what is “sin” without being super legalistic and unrealistic (we can talk about this some other time, if you’re curious about it). Yet some how, the most relate-able emotion, story, feeling, scenario in this chapter is rather overlooked. So let’s talk about it a little bit…

There is this horrific moment that plays in my imagination more than just any other part of chapter 3, as I read this unexpected turn of events from perfect beautiful world & relationship, to some unknown treacherous depths.
Adam and Eve lived together and they worked together in a perfect world. Then sadly by deception and wrong choices, they sinned together and therefore allowed brokeness to enter into this perfect world they’d been enjoying. After the realized their wrong-doings they made coverings for themselves together and hide together. Although sin and shame had entered the world, they still had each other. They were still together even in these times. Yet something happened when it came time to face God together, suddenly for the first time ever Eve hears Adam say disdainfully, “That woman that you gave me, she…
Suddenly unity is broken between man and woman. Suddenly Eve is out on her own, exposed and alone. It’s the first time in history when one human would publicly betray another human being. It’s the beginning of the horrific endless blame-game, and the beginning of endless wounds that would repeat generation after generation. “That woman that you gave me, she…” An echoing age-old disdain entered the world through those spoken words and that severing of unity.

It’s painful to simply consider it.

These kinds of woundings and utter isolating loneliness only could happen in a sin-broken world. This kind of pain was not how God intended for the world or relationships to be. It could even be argued that this heartache between Adam and Eve did not occur until God himself had felt the heartache of Adam & Eve hiding themselves from God. Could it be their human relationships were only able to be broken because their relationship and unity with God was first broken?
I have heard it suggested that we as humans feel heartache and betrayal so universally because God himself has also felt heartache and betrayal, and being created in the imagine & likeness of God makes us susceptible to that which God also experiences. Could it be?
I have long prayed for many of the man I know. Not that in some way men need it more or desire it more, but I once heard an old lady who had many younger woman consult her about when will they find “the right man” or a good husband or whatever the case. This lady put her arms around all these younger women and just started praying, praying for Godly husbands. Praying for men of character. Praying for the younger woman who felt exasperated over the whole subject and all their personal experiences.  Instead of coming together and saying, “I know! All men are…” “The good ones are hard to find” or any other the other ridiculous statements I’ve heard in my short life time.  The older lady, she just prayed.

It struck me as being so logical.

Before I meet my husband, I had prayed for him. Before I knew him, God knew him, and so I prayed. Today, I pray for many great men I know. Not that they should need to become husbands, or those who are be better ones, but I pray because in today’s world we certainly need man of character and caliber.
Again, I feel blessed to know so many great men around me. I am thankful. However I also consider those who don’t. My heart and prayers are with those women and young girls. I wish the world was kinder, but even if it is not on mass, I am glad to know a few good men who are.

Come up to Zion. Come out from Babylon

“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.

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.  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.

Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. 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.

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.  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.”

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.”

-Proverbs 31:10-31

“The perfect woman, who can find?”
If you read this whole excerpt you might think that’s what it says at the beginning, but it’s does not actually use the word perfect… nor woman, in this one, come to think of it. It says “excellent wife” or “virtuous wife” or “virtuous woman” all are acceptable.  Many of the translations I’ve read say “wife” instead of woman, because that’s the implied context of this “lady” it’s referring to.

Unfortunately this often gets taken more literal than most of the other Proverbs which have great literal advice. After all, if it says woman or wife surely it means exactly that. What other context could it be in?

This scripture is often used to explain what the standard is for women who are thinking about getting married in a Christian marriage context. Yet that’s really sub-par to the bigger picture. Two big things should be noted really quickly:
1. This is the last chapter in Proverbs a book of wisdom, which teaches anyone who’s willing to learn about the greater, smarter truths that need to prevail in the midst of each of our lives.

  1. When Proverbs refers to a “woman” it is more often a parallel for a greater concept, possibly the imaginary of a reproductive entity with charisma and attractiveness, and then from there, the words that follow really tell you what exactly (good or bad) that particular Proverb is talking about.

One day as I read this passage of Proverbs 31, I realized that it is talking about the church. Not the buildings, gatherings, systems, programs, events, or other things claiming to be “the real McCoy” but the beautiful, loving, welcoming church also known as the Bride of Christ. I started tearing up and crying without realizing it. She’s so beautiful, and somehow I never say her right there in the midst of the poetry! I loved her instantly.

St Augustine is quoted as saying,
“the church is whore, but she’s my mother and I love her”
I am quoted as saying, “I love the church, she’s my mother! …and that’s not her.”

Let’s set this record straight!
The church who is the Bride of Christ is not a whore.
She’s a blameless, stainless, pure. She’s beautiful. She’s welcoming (Revelations 22:17). She’s loving. She works through the night (times of darkness), she still cares for the poor and needy, and yet never neglects her own household. She works hard because she cares. She is not afraid and she even laughs, knowing what is to come. She’s strong, dignified, perceptive, diligent, and loved, so very loved and honored by her husband (who is Christ Jesus). Who would dare call Christ’s Bride a whore? Not this woman!

I recognize her. I recognize her voice, her smell, her smile… that’s my mother. That is the church, or maybe you know her as Zion. I love her! She makes me proud. I love the way Jesus smiles at her. I love her song in the midst of the worst times. She’s fearless and ever loving. She never stops loving. I know her so well, and yet I wish I knew her more.

No one can step into these shoes and call itself church. I know my mother too well to believe that. No one can be “the church” and neglect the fact that she is also Zion. She doesn’t “replace” Zion, she was known as Zion before I called her my momma, before you called her the church. She’s one in the same, the radiant Bride of Christ.

Jesus said, “my sheep know my voice”. He said this because sheep are known for scurrying away from anyone who approaches them, but whom they do not recognize the voice, and rightfully so. Sheep are animals who are commonly attacked & eaten as prey of other creatures, they have to remain on their guard. But OH, the voice of the shepherd can be trusted!  However, I simply propose that it’s not just Jesus’ voice that we must recognize for our own safety, but also the voice of his Bride. We must also hear the call of Zion to come up!

Things we’re not talking about

One of the most normal questions to ask someone whom you’re getting to know is, what’s their favorite movies. I love throwing out a strange diversity and which people to struggle to relate to one of them. When I’m talking to other ladies I do tend to mention Pride and Prejudice as one of my favorite movies. I have no idea ho many times I’ve seen this or if I can quote the whole movie yet or not.  I admit, I do watch some chick flick, and I would consider this one quality.

Being married, I am compassionate enough to no watch chick flicks with my husband (he doesn’t know how good he has it!). It’s easier to watch it by myself or with some girl friends on a movie night, then to receive my hunsband’s looks of are-you-kidding-me?!

My  husband is not a romantic. I could plead with him to try to be… but he’s just clueless to the imagination it would take to come up with something heartfelt and sweet all at the same time. He’s a good man, but this just doesn’t appeal to his inner man.

To be fair, I try to consider why husbands hate chick flicks, and more importantly why do women tend to love em so? What is about the ideas of being so cherished and treasured that some crazy-in-love man would chase after us with little to no self-regard? What is about the ideas that a man would come unraveled because he faces the ultimate reality that this woman has changed his existence merely in their meeting together?  Is it a sexes power-struggle in rose-colored lighting where we win be charm?

What is that thing that is happening in the chick flicks, which something in women particularly meet with affirmation?  What is it imagine ourselves to be so desired? To be victorious in the end… What is that happily-ever-after syndrome  which is so universal with woman?

More importantly, can I be happy without chick flicks in my life?  Or is something deep down yearning  for them?  Is it a curse!?

….wait, is it a curse?

In the beginning portion of the Bible it talks about a curse which comes from disobedience (giving birth to sin) and all culprits involved get a curse. …women included. 😦    The curse end like is: “You shall desire your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Genesis 3:16)

This is imperfect relationship.

The result of a curse is that we as women would desire our husbands (or a husband!) but then instead of a perfect cycling of this with matched desire, bringing happily-ever-after, the result is the husband rules over the wife..? What a terrible deal!

Even worse, it gets promoted under ridiculous conditions, and women are told that this is the way in which God set things up. No. God setup something much more perfect, and these standards are set for those who live under the curse. But we don’t have to live according to that curse! If we live according to Christ Jesus, then we are able to seek God’s good and perfect plan, and we do not have to be under the curse.

As a matter of fact, I think there’s still something within us that cries out to NOT be under the curse, but to be in God’s perfect plan. I think there’s something in us that isn’t crying out about “woman get paid less” or such politics off-centered topics, but cries out for unity as God intended. Something that cries out to be cherished and not scorned or subdued. It’s not even romance that we want as much as connection, equality of spirit to spirit, forgiveness instead of the blame-game.

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Could it be that truth is also more perfect than fantasy?

 

(Romans 8:1-2 = not under curse; Romans 12: 1-2 = free to live in God’s perfect plan)