Friday, October 7, 2011

Ladies, it's not just a suggestion, it's who you are!

Provers 31.  I suppose this chapter can sometimes be overused when focusing on who we should be as women of God.  But I believe the way we tend to look at it is completely backwards.  We see the wonderful uplifting adjectives and think, "Wow, I'd really like to work harder at being more like that."  STOP THAT!
Don't you see?  It's not about working harder to become these things, these things are who you already are!  If you spend anytime reading the Bible, you will quickly learn that God doesn't want you to try harder to be anything other than what He's already created you to be.  Let's take a look at the Amplified translation of Proverbs 31:10-31:

10A capable, intelligent, and virtuous woman--who is he who can find her? She is far more precious than jewels and her value is far above rubies or pearls.
    11The heart of her husband trusts in her confidently and relies on and believes in her securely, so that he has no lack of [honest] gain or need of [dishonest] spoil.
    12She comforts, encourages, and does him only good as long as there is life within her.
    13She seeks out wool and flax and works with willing hands [to develop it].
    14She is like the merchant ships loaded with foodstuffs; she brings her household's food from a far [country].
    15She rises while it is yet night and gets [spiritual] food for her household and assigns her maids their tasks.
    16She considers a [new] field before she buys or accepts it [expanding prudently and not courting neglect of her present duties by assuming other duties]; with her savings [of time and strength] she plants fruitful vines in her vineyard. [S. of Sol. 8:12.]
    17She girds herself with strength [spiritual, mental, and physical fitness for her God-given task] and makes her arms strong and firm.
    18She tastes and sees that her gain from work [with and for God] is good; her lamp goes not out, but it burns on continually through the night [of trouble, privation, or sorrow, warning away fear, doubt, and distrust].
    19She lays her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
    20She opens her hand to the poor, yes, she reaches out her filled hands to the needy [whether in body, mind, or spirit].
    21She fears not the snow for her family, for all her household are doubly clothed in scarlet.
    22She makes for herself coverlets, cushions, and rugs of tapestry. Her clothing is of linen, pure and fine, and of purple [such as that of which the clothing of the priests and the hallowed cloths of the temple were made].
    23Her husband is known in the [city's] gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.
    24She makes fine linen garments and leads others to buy them; she delivers to the merchants girdles [or sashes that free one up for service].
    25Strength and dignity are her clothing and her position is strong and secure; she rejoices over the future [the latter day or time to come, knowing that she and her family are in readiness for it]!
    26She opens her mouth in skillful and godly Wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness [giving counsel and instruction].
    27She looks well to how things go in her household, and the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity) she will not eat.
    28Her children rise up and call her blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied); and her husband boasts of and praises her, [saying],
    29Many daughters have done virtuously, nobly, and well [with the strength of character that is steadfast in goodness], but you excel them all.
    30Charm and grace are deceptive, and beauty is vain [because it is not lasting], but a woman who reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord, she shall be praised!
    31Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates [of the city]!

As if that's not enough to fire you up, let's take a look at what this really means to us.  God is saying to you, that if He has it written here, that's who you are! Like I mentioned before, He isn't saying, "work harder to be these things." He's telling you to start believing, REALLY believing that you are these things.  What needs to happen is we need to start meditating on who God says we are, until it really sinks deep down into our hearts.  Once we believe it in our hearts, it will begin to pour out and overflow into our behaviors and the rest of our lives!  According to Proverbs 31 this is who you are!

more precious than jewels
strong (spiritually, mentally, & physically)
hard working
an open handed giver
full of dignity
to be envied

You better believe it ladies!  If you're not feeling like all of these things, don't worry! You aren't defined by your feelings.  Keep saying these things about yourself over and over.  Eventually you will begin to believe what God has been trying to show you all along.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Beyond this Culture

In the midst of our culture today, it's hard to believe that there are truly lasting relationships out there.  Looking at all the trashy, unrealistic shows on TV, relationship "tips" in Cosmo, and any other form of media we are fed daily, how in the world are healthy relationships really supposed to exist?  Just like many of you have probably experienced, I've had to watch too many of my friends end up in unhealthy relationships where they've "settled" for much less than they deserve.  When we look from the outside into their relationship, it seems so obvious that something just isn't quite right.
I believe it starts with the condition of that individuals heart.  Our culture today is constantly trying to tell us what we "should" look like, dress like, be like, and act like.  The problem with all of this is that we are basing this off of some random Hollywood stars opinions.  So many of us don't understand that when you truly push aside all the garbage this culture feeds us, there is something incredibly beautiful waiting to be exposed.  The undeniable beauty of selflessness.  The reason so many relationships start out exciting and rewarding, but soon after end up fizzling out is because it was built on selfishness in the first place.  What we really need is a paradigm shift.  Instead of focusing on all the things we can gain ourselves out of a relationship with another, we need to start focusing first on becoming the right person ourselves.
I am fully persuaded that until we learn to love ourselves and understand how much we are truly worth, we are not able to carry out a healthy relationship.  We constantly obsess over another to fill the void in our lives just to try and obtain our own satisfaction.  But if we can actually gain a full understanding that God has created us to be in a completely fulfilling relationship with Him, we soon find that He is absolutely CRAZY about us!  I believe we are all created with a God-sized hole in our hearts, and when we allow Him to fill that hole, we can find ourselves made complete.  This doesn't mean allowing Him to have only a certain part of your heart, but fully surrendering every aspect of our lives to Him.  He created us, therefore those desires that we long for deep down in our hearts, like those desires of a lasting relationship, He wants to give that to us.  When we don't know our own worth, we settle for the next person that comes along and shows us even just a bit of positive attention.  But God has a bigger plan.  One more beautiful than you could even fathom!  So instead of focusing all your time on "finding" the right person, allow God to transform you into "becoming" the right person.
Even if we don't understand it in that moment, and it seems like the only advice we hear people say is, "Be patient." There is so much truth in that.  Just like a wonderfully written book or a beautiful painting, we don't rush and settle just to finish it.  Instead we are patient with taking our time to finish it, picky with each word or color we use, because we know the finished product will be worth it.  If we start to realize that our lives our a beautiful masterpiece that God is still creating, the journey to becoming the right person doesn't seem so unattainable after all.
Where ever you may be in your life today, I promise you that if you allow Him, God will show you what your true worth really is.  Forget what the world is trying to tell you.  Find your worth in what God thinks of you.  Then you will truly be able to be selfless in a relationship.  And when two people are focused on serving one another instead of themselves, then we can finally see a beautiful, healthy relationship unfold.