30 January, 2007

Now We See Dimly...

"Cards, we are cards
In a wheel spun around on the truth
Maybe we don't need to know
Any more than we have to"

Despite the grammatical errors in these lyrics from Mute Math, I realized their relevance to the phase of life that I'm in. Still jobless after 6 weeks of "vacation" and with no purpose or cause presenting itself that I might pursue, I feel somewhat pointless. This may be a byproduct of a culture that seeks affluence, but I do need some sort of income in the near future. I've also been wondering about future semesters--will I go back to the university I disliked? Will I find another school that seems to fit my needs? Will I never finish school?

But do I really need to know all of this? I know that tomorrow I will either be in heaven or God will still be providing for my physical needs. If I don't have a job right now, then I must not need it. I don't need to know any more than what God has told me. To seek something that is outside of his will would be sin, and definitely not a good strategical move. This doesn't mean I won't be actively seeking employment, and that I won't need a job until April, but I am able to rest in God's care.

It is amazing to ponder how well God knows me. He knows my soul, yes, but he also knows about the tuition bill due soon, and the emotions that seem to have taken over my ability to think, and that I enjoy snow. He knows I was viewing myself as independent, when in reality I rely completely on his love, so he's teaching me of his providence. I am starting to realize how he is a perfect Father, and truly loves me as his daughter.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. (I Corinthians 13:12)

16 January, 2007

Woman, Define Yourself

It has been quite a while since I or many of my blogging friends have posted anything. I have several long drafts in my folder, waiting to become readable. I don't know if I'll ever finish them. But tonight I had something to write that I need to remember for later.

The men in my church recently went to a conference (a "Manference") concerning biblical manhood. The ones I talked to came back envisioned for pursuing the ideals of biblical manhood. For several reasons I pulled out my notes for the two women's conferences I've attended, one in 2000 and the other in 2004. I'm very curious to read the notes from the Manference, to see how the two conferences compare (though I wonder if that will ever happen) because...frankly, the women's conference in 2004 hurt.

In fact, I spent an hour tonight with tears on my face, struggling with my emotions surrounding biblical femininity. What is it? Is it possible to separate femininity into what is culturally acceptable and God's standards? To research this, I turned to Proverbs 31, which is my 2nd favorite passage of the Bible (my first, for the record, is Psalm 30:5).

Here's what I noticed about Proverbs 31. Things seem to be mentioned in a rather scatter-brained order, but it made sense that this was a listing of the woman's priorities, not just a collection of random thoughts. Taking that into consideration, I noticed that she is trusted by her husband, and his welfare is her first concern. She's eager to work, and cares for her household when no one notices. She invests her efforts and time wisely, not selfishly. She is physically active to be strong, not just to look good. She has found a valuable niche for her business efforts, and gives her customers a quality product. She is generous, even seeking those who are not asking for a handout in order to give. She is confident that her household's current and future needs are provided for, which reflects how she trusts her husband. She enjoys the fruit of her own work. She teaches the truth (wisdom) in love (kindness) to others. She cares well for her household, being neither idle nor micromanaging. Her family appreciates her publicly, and she is rewarded for the fruits of her actions. And here's the jewel of the whole chapter: "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."

Isn't it funny how many of these qualities are applicable to both men and women? I don't know any man who shouldn't invest his time or money into something he hasn't thought long and hard about, or who shouldn't be generous. I know that society has been celebrating the homogenizing of women and men, which is despicable. Because heart attitudes are so difficult to measure, however, it's easier to give people a list of what is masculine and what is feminine, rather than defining motivations.

I was not envisioned with biblical femininity at the women's conference, nor a heart attitude to strive after. I was given a list of do's and dont's, which was extremely burdening. Grace was in there somewhere, but it seemed to be thrown in as an afterthought. "Here's how you should grow, and this is what you need to do it. Oh, and don't forget that this is a collaboration with the Holy Spirit." Wha-? Grace isn't a safety net for when my efforts fail, but it should be the motivating factor behind my work. Where's the Main Thing? How can I pursue femininity while keeping the gospel central? Sovereign Grace's presentation of biblical femininity seems skewed. It seems they're describing biblical femininity plus personality traits and cultural femininity. Yes, I want to be culturally relevant, but please don't tell me that interior decorating is akin to evangelism. Sure, it can facilitate it, but if I don't evangelize in my home because it's not perfect then God is not served.

Rather than seeing my position in life as God's will for me, I was told that God wanted me somewhere else, with a husband and children. How is that in any way biblical? I am eager for the day that God will bless me with a husband and children, but do you know how hard it is to be satisfied in singlehood when one has been preparing for marriage and motherhood since infancy?

Could I use this information to prepare for the future? Of course. Next time I have the opportunity, I'll go camping with a Bible instead of attending a womens' conference. Ok, ok my reaction probably shouldn't be so extreme. But this conference had no new information for me, and I'm still sinning in jealousy and bitterness because where I am is not where I want to be. I'm excited for the future, but I need to be excited about here and now, too.

If you see points that need editing, please tell me. I'd gladly edit bitterness and jealousy out of my life, but I'm having a hard time seeing how right now...