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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Usually, It Isn't Enough To Be A Good Wife

We, women of a mother's age, balk whenever we hear of a young woman barely out of high school getting engaged.  At least I do.  Perhaps because I know what she doesn’t know yet.  I know that she will put all of her emotion into this man that she’s newly in love with.   She, if she is odd and knows who she is, is in danger of forgetting all of that in a desire to bond and connect with him.  Most times, she doesn’t know who she is yet.  She’s unaware of the gifts and talents that God has given to her for satisfying her longing soul by moving faithfully within His will. 

In Genesis, when God is explaining the consequences for Adam & Eve’s prohibited snack, He says to Eve in Genesis 3:16 “…Yet your desire shall be for your husband...”  This puzzled me when it was brought up at my weekly Bible study.  I’d never paid any attention to that phrase, most likely because it’s followed up with that “and he shall rule over you” phrase which we have all heard more times than we’ve enjoyed.  My friend from Bible study gave me a fresh perspective on this.  She said, “We will always be longing toward our husband.  Even if he isn’t meeting all of our emotional needs, we will always be longing for that and looking to him.”  Suddenly, I realized how many problems in marriages surrounding me directly reflects back to this explanation.

How many times have I sat in church without my husband and my thoughts distracted away from the message, wishing my husband was there, or, rather than taking the word for myself, I considered his circumstances, his unhappiness, his stress, his needs and applied the sermon to them in his absence. 

How many times has my mother gone to see the changing leaves, out for lunch, to church or a community event and felt lonely because my dad didn’t want to go with her. 

There is much undone by women of God because we want the companionship of our husband but he doesn’t share our desire, interests, mission or purpose. 

It may seem that we are simply living a self sacrificing life - but I believe that we are sacrificing our purpose and work on this earth for God in order to cling to our husband.  In God's design for a marriage, he tells a man to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and they should be as one flesh.  He does not say to leave God and cleave to his wife.  I can't imagine he would want a woman to do so.

How many women have spent years with a physically or emotionally abusive man because she just could not break that bond she felt for him.  A bond that is one-sided and certainly not glorifying to God, as she allows the years of destruction to rob her of joy, purpose, fruits of the spirit, inspiration, thought, or direction from God because her desire for her husband overshadowed it all.  This is truly the worst case scenario of this curse. 

We’ve each been created as individuals.  We’re not appendages of our husbands, nor are we tools or extensions of our husband's spiritual identity.  God addressed Eve personally - he didn’t say, “Adam - you figure out what to do with your wife, as it doesn‘t concern me personally.”  We have an individual identity with God, and though our emotional longings threaten to pull us away - we’ll miss much of the fruits of the spirit that have little to do with who we are married to, if we don’t acknowledge and then move in accordance to the identity God created within us.

Many wives will tell you that the stress from her husband’s job takes him far away from God and from a spiritual dependence upon him.  He doesn’t trust God through the difficult times, or believes that he is on his own, which is obviously an exhausting heart condition to operate from.  Adam’s punishment was to experience exhausting labor because of a curse on the ground.  Regardless of our husband’s profession, we can see the same result of exhaustion due to the stress of obstacles that thwart his efforts as the thistles and thorns have done to farmers for millennia. 

Our preoccupation with our husbands can misdirect us away from God in the same manner.  The true consequence of Adam & Eve’s faithless and disobedient behavior is a distance from God.  Physically they had to leave the garden, and spiritually, we’ve allowed our preoccupation with our husbands to pull us away from Him ever since.

As women, it’s important that we teach a young woman that she will always have an identity with God that is her own personal intimate relationship and responsibility.  Her husband cannot live that out for her.  She will of course feel love, desire, devotion and a deep connection to her husband - but she must also have a conviction to not allow it to push God so far into the background that she can't hear his voice.  She may have a work or mission that she shares with her husband, or she may have one that is completely personal, and she must have faith that God wouldn't fill her with the talents, passions, purpose and conviction to complete that work if it doesn’t matter to him whether she acts on it or ignores it.

A young woman should know who she is to God before she commits to being a wife to a man.  She should know God’s voice and hear it clearly before she tragically reduces it to background noise as her desire turns toward her husband.

And ALL of that was what I’ve heard in my spirit for the last couple days that I was quiet and obeying God’s recent mystifying, yet persistent conviction that I needed to hang up the telephone, go to a festival by myself (while my husband gathered our last cord of firewood and I was unable to help because my hand was burned), paint my nephew’s bedroom (in solitary quiet without so much as a radio), and enjoy taking the long way home - so that I could hear Him tell me to believe Him, trust Him, and write this - because it's always the right time to hear God and act upon his instruction.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Beauty Of Microplush Skin Of The Over 40 Woman

My mother is in her sixties.  A couple decades ago, I noticed the back of her hand was so soft, I  barely registered that I was touching something.  It was similar to the cheek of a newborn baby... that soft.

I'm 46.  My hands do not have that super-soft condition.  My face, however is another thing.  It's actually very nice to touch... and yet... I know that it's become that way because the elasticity previously holding it up, firm and taut and smooth is wearing out... like the elastic of the bra that was put through the hot dryer one too many times.

Last week Terri Hatcher was on Oprah.  She took pictures and videos of herself with no makeup - fresh from the bathtub.  Guess what?  Under fluorescent lighting, with no makeup, hair untamed - she looks as scary as the rest of us do! 

My daughters are in their 20's.  They are pretty, fresh, and lovely.  They are still learning that sometimes there is no rational reason why something won't work - and yet it just doesn't.  They over-schedule their time and their energy levels.  They still lose their keys and their wallets.  Their cars get dangerously close to an empty gas tank and they are sure they will still make it "there and back" before they have to get gas.  One day I was dangerously close and called one to see how many miles I can go on one "dot" registering on my Honda.  The answer was about 30 - 40 miles.  (I won't be held responsible for you running out of gas... but if you are 3 miles from the gas station, don't get frantic.)

I fill up at just under the half tank mark.  I live 20 miles from the affordable (cough, cough) gas station, and I drive a Jeep - so I don't play around with this stuff.  An emergency could arise and I don't want to be getting gas on my way to the really good (no cough, cough for that) hospitals in Pittsburgh, which are a 90 minute drive.

Perhaps I'm not in the majority, but I get caught up in the desire to be ageless.  To look 35 at 60 would be OK with me.  After all... my husband's eyes aren't going to fall out at 49, and there are entirely too many people not making love in their 50's, 60's and 70's - and while I'm sure there are many reasons for that, it breaks my heart to think of my husband not desiring to experience that with me.  I live in fear of losing the woman I was.  But, let's face it... much of her exterior has already changed... arms, thighs, butt, elevation of the bust line, that flesh above my knees, the sharpness of my jawline, the place where my eyeshadow is now hidden.

On the other hand, I like the woman I am today more than at any other time in my life.  I never lose my keys or run out of gas.  I know that time doesn't stretch just because I've scheduled 8 hours of stuff in 4 1/2 hours, which saves me so much misery.  I've gotten to know God in a way that is more deep and honest than when I thought he was a genie and answered all my wishes.  I see my husband's flaws have a positive side and wouldn't change them, even if I could.  I know I can't change anyone but myself, but I also have the wisdom to give advice in a way that other people can actually hear it instead of bashing them over the head with it.  I'm not offended when they don't take it.

In truth... I like the way my face feels.  It's like those micro-plush blankets in the store that we all have to touch, even if we aren't buying one today.  As the internal woman becomes more wise and holds a more distinct shape, it seems God sees fit to wrap that smart cookie in super softness.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Envy, Rivalry & Bridge Jumping

Isn't it curious that we can appear to be envious of something that, in truth, we would never want to have?

I'm sure you know this story.  There's a guy or girl at work that just never seems to get what they have coming to them.  Late to work, calls off sick with that "morning after" illness, does more chatting than working, and exhibits some other negative qualities that we would be embarrassed for people to see in us... yet she has no problem with the reputation it gets her with her coworkers.  If her coworkers were boss - she'd be fired - after she was properly humiliated, of course.

Or maybe you have a sister or brother that doesn't work as hard as you, doesn't pay his bills on time, overindulges on the things he wants and mom and dad bail him out time and time again.  Perhaps with what you believe is your inheritance!  Don't worry about that... your parents are leaving your inheritance to the humane society, or perhaps to a foundation to benefit people who can't drink milk.  Hey, they're our parents - they do weird stuff, right?

We wouldn't want to be in the shoes of these slackers - because, quite frankly, they stink... although... probably not since they have a selection of shoes that make you drool and they never wear the same pair twice.  (In all likelihood that is where your sister's mortgage money really went.)  But, in all truth - we don't want to be like that... it just ticks you off that they get away with it.

I have news for you (the kind of news that makes you change the channel, unfortunately).  It's all sibling rivalry.  One way or another they are our siblings on this planet - even if we don't share genetic material.

I know a guy (I'll call him Dave) that wanted this one particular job so bad.  He finally got it.  He hates it.  He likes the work.  He likes the hours.  His boss pays him well.  His boss appreciates his work and he lets him know.  Dave hates his job because he's jealous.  He's jealous that another guy (I'll call him Lou) talks too much, kisses up to another boss and that boss is happy to accept the ego boost, calls off work more often than he should and doesn't give 100% in the work place.  Dave has no respect for Lou and desperately wants him to get what he 'deserves'.

Lou's behavior doesn't impact Dave's job.  His workload doesn't increase because Lou is a slacker of sorts.  But... Dave spends an inordinate amount of time watching for Lou's screw ups and bothering his boss with the tattling.  Dave is also so angry at Lou that he blows up at him - going so far as to "invite" Lou out to the parking lot.  Dave was in line to become a foreman, but his jealousy has cost him the respect of the other employees and he will be passed over when the time comes to name a foreman.  Dave is 45.  Lou is 26.

Dave doesn't want to be anything like Lou, nor would he want people to think of him as Lou is generally thought of.  It isn't Dave's company.  He and Lou are work-siblings.  Dave is paid well.  He could just ... let it go...  But he has let this ruin a job that was perfect for him.

Another situation... two sisters...  Beth is married to a wonderful guy.  She has 2 children - 17 & 21.  They are well adjusted.  She has a beautiful home.  She's pretty, thin, educated and successful by worldly accounts.  Jackie has 2 kids in their early 20's.  One is an irresponsible single mother with an attitude problem and the other has had frightening mental health and addiction issues.  Jackie is overweight, broke, raising her grandchildren, and would give you the shirt off her back.  Beth probably would as well - but it costs Jackie more to do so, and she wouldn't tell other people about it later.  Jackie's dad helps her and her kids out - financially as well as other ways.  While acknowledging that she would never want to be in that situation, Beth is really angry that her sister is getting this help.  An outsider would presume that Beth doesn't feel her sister deserves anything good in her life at all, since there is obviously so much that is hard in Jackie's life.

Even the apostle Peter said to Jesus, "What about him?  What does he have to do?" in reference to John.  Jesus' reply was to tell Peter it was none of his business what Jesus would have John do... Peter was to do what Peter was told to do.  In other words, Peter... "If John jumped off a bridge, would you want to jump off a bridge too?  Mind your own business!"

How much of our life's misery is caused by sibling rivalry.  Rather than gratitude for our own blessings, we resent that someone else is getting something we feel they don't deserve.  In truth... and in the eyes of OUR siblings... how much do we, in fact, deserve the good things that are in our lives.