Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Gender Role Fight: Where Are You Looking For Truth?

It's 1:07am on a Saturday (Sunday?) and I'm upset. Again.

I write a lot of blog posts when I'm upset; maybe I should, maybe I shouldn't. Whatever.

(However, I am drinking coffee for the first time in 7 days, so I'm actually ecstatic-upset. Is that a real state of emotion?)

Lots of you know I started the Good Women Project recently, and have launched myself into a world where the dirtiest of secrets find their way into my inbox, I am bombarded with links to Men Are From Some Other Planet & Women Should Rule Everything To Make Up For The Last Eighteen Thousand Years articles, and can't go 24 hours without wrestling through a gender-related identity crisis in my own life.

I interact daily with women who hate men, women who hate women, women who love being women, women who hate being women, men who hate women, men who don't know if women should be women or if they should be men, men who wish women would be women, women who wish men would be women, and women who wish we were all just humans and the words men and women weren't in our vocabulary.

Men and women: You all are a trainwreck.

And it is breaking me.

The fight against gender roles has seared a deep brand into the flesh of this generation, and instead of healing, I'm watching it destroy.

The issue overwhelms me. Every part of it. Feminism, sexual orientation, civil rights, gender roles, marriage, glass ceilings, those stupid statistics on men making more money in the same position as their fellow female co-worker.

The ungodly number of research studies, statistics, polls, articles & books written on the topic makes me want to give up entirely. To say, "To hell with this. Everyone just shut up, and just BE."

Unfortunately, I can't say that. The topic is a loaded gun, and we're firing it every single day - aiming with good intentions and hitting all the wrong things.

The long and short of it is that hurt people hurt people. Yeah. Hurt people HURT people.

We must realize how and why we are hurt before we go around firing off missiles in the name of protecting people suffering from the same wounds we are.

I've been hurt in this area. Badly. Every one of us has skewed definitions of what it means to be what you are and what you aren't. We grew up with imperfect parents, in imperfect families, in an imperfect society.

And as always, we are the messed up product of nature & nurture until God himself restores our identity in Him.

Our hurt and dysfunction come from lies, both intentional and unintentional. Lies must be replaced with truth, and if you're going to go chasing truth, you'd better set some rules for where you go looking for it.

I have chosen to seek truth in the only place I know I can find it and never question it: God.

This can be extraordinarily hard, because of the church's history and way of handling the subject. Unfortunately, the majority of us have shied away from what God has to say because all we know of it is what Christians in our life have passed along. I ask you to throw it all out and fight to find the truth - the original, untouched by human hands truth.

I know that I am not responsible for fixing the world. I am only responsible for myself, my healing, my heart, my relationships, my career, and my life. This means that before I go around throwing opinions at people, I have to understand that I was born a female (whether I like it or not - thankfully, I do), and that it is my responsibility to become who I was created to be - regardless of how I was raised, what affected me, the churches I grew up in, and what my society tells me to be.

The woman I am and will become is between God and myself. The world that I live in has no claim on it.

I am ashamed to say that for all 23 years of my life, I've recoiled every time I've heard the phrase, "The Proverbs 31 Woman." I have a bitter, bitter taste left in my mouth from my own history. But, if I am going to submit my truth to the truth of God, then I need to do that wholeheartedly.

So, I sat down this evening to study Proverbs 31 inside and out. And to seek what God says of Woman; what the best of the best is called to look like. Who she is. What she is. What she does. How she lives. Why she's worth fighting to become.

Sometimes, I put things into plain English to help me understand the Bible better.* Here is what I ended up with:

A valuable woman who can find?
She is worth more than diamonds and gold.
Her man brags about her
and because of her, needs nothing else.
She fills his life with good things, not problems,
every day of their life.
She loves hunting for pretty things
And making beautiful things to sell online. (Yep, I said it.)
She's just like a small business,
earning a living around the world.
She pulls late nights
To make things for her family
and for her friends.
She finds things she is passionate about
and invests in them
paying for them out of her own earnings.
She works hard because she knows what she loves,
her arms are built for what she does.
She knows that what she invests her time in is worth it,
and her light stays on late into the night.
In her hands she grips the tools she needs,
she knows how to use them and how to create.
She throws open her doors to the poor
and gives freely to everyone that needs anything she has.
When life gets hard, she has no fear for her family
for she has made sure all of them are clothed well.
She decorates her home to reflect herself,
and dresses well.
Her man is respected in what he does,
everyone around him admires him.
She creates clothing, art - anything she loves
and sells it off.
She is strong and confident in her reputation,
she can laugh in the face of anything, fearing nothing.
She speaks wisdom and truth,
and can guide others well and easily.
She is aware of everything in her home,
and never suffers from laziness.
Her children stand up and tell others of who she is,
her man also - he sings her praises.
She knows that charm can have no foundation
and that some beauty does not last
but she fears the Lord, and she will be praised for it.
Give her the reward that she has so well earned
and let everything she does bring her praise wherever she goes.

Take this as you will. Read the NIV translation here.

Know that when you seek the truth of God, know that you must go directly to Him.

He knows your passions, your strengths, your talents and your dreams. He is a God of freedom, and will align your life with your heart if you allow Him. When God restores your identity in Him, it will never be a compromise.

And for the record, I see no restriction, no entrapment, no control, no fear, no discrimination, and no glass ceilings in Proverbs 31.

- - -

* Please do not take this as my altering the Bible for my own intentions; please read the original translation. This is merely an exercise I do on my own to help me see what I did not see before.


Just me said...

As I started reading this, I was planning to comment to remind you that this problem is not your responsibility, that you are only responsible for yourself (although don't get me wrong, I think it's fantastic that you spread messages like this, because you're writing things that we all need to hear). But I'm glad to see that you realise it yourself.

Lauren, I love your heart, it is truly wonderful.

kelly summers said...

so beautiful. i like your view of proverbs 31. i like that the theme lately for your blog has been to find truth and meaning in God and nothing else. to know who He is and live in that. it's a reminder i need daily.

Anonymous said...

Women were created to create, love, and see beauty. But that doesn't mean men can't.

Equality in a nutshell.

Becca said...

Hurt people HURT people.
This was said in a sermon at church several years ago and you've reminded me of it. It's a cycle of pain: you're hurting, and you hurt someone else. Then that persn (because you hurt them and because they were hurting to begin with) hurts someone else, and so on and so forth, until it's no wonder that the world is a crap place to live sometimes. It's heartbreaking, really. :(
There's a line from a song that says "and you can't love until you love yourself." I think the two kind of go hand-in-hand.
As always, love your thoughts, and your heart! :)

Unknown said...

thank you so much for writing this... your words brought me freedom today.

Peace, Love, and Critical Thinking said...

As women, it is our job to embrace the divine holy mysterious brilliance of our nature, and to go forth into the world using the gifts and beauty the Lord has bestowed upon us, in every area of our lives; not ONLY but definitely including for the benefit of a husband, should God provide one.

I like your Prov 31 translation. I did a personal study of it a year ago... although having been the first time I'd discovered the "Proverbs 31 woman" it was new and fresh and not at all bitter. I can see how it could be turned into a tiresome terrible thing for a woman to hear in church.

Keep writing, beautiful! Love your stuff.

Anonymous said...

LOVE this post. I'm a fairly new follower/reader and need to catch myself up on your background ... this post is wonderful. I, too, shudder as soon as I hear the phrase "Proverbs 31 woman" because, honestly, it's a tall order to live up to. Thank you for being so honest about gender roles!

Max Andrew Dubinsky said...

I am proud of you. I love your words and your heart. I am so blessed to have a woman as courageous and bold as you in my life.

Angie said...

Dear lauren,

I havent been raised as a christian, nor is anyone i know a christian, so im afraid i know too little of this to really have a opinion about it, but the way you talk about God is just so amazing. There's a catholic church right down the block in my street, but yet i am too afraid to go there. Im afraid of what my atheist parents shall say, of what my atheist friends will say. I live in a small village, with a population of less than a 1000 where everybody knows everybody: what will they say? Is it even possible for me to become a christian in the first place?

Jenna said...

beautiful. as always. I never have anything to say besides that because you just cover everything in such a passionate and relatable way! <3

Just me said...

Angie - yes, it's totally possible for you to become a Christian! If you go to church it should be for you, not with worry of what anyone else will think of you. I understand the small village thing, but I bet you'd find that there are others around you who wonder about this too, but are also afraid to ask or look into it further.

If you want to become a Christian, seek God. Yes, I would definitely encourage you to find a church, but just spend some quiet time with Him. Pray; ask Him to reveal Himself to you.

Sara said...

Cool. It is so hard to make sense of these charged issues. Sometimes I find myself getting mad and then forgetting why! It's difficult to find truth when everyone seems to be shouting an opinion--particularly on gender roles/expectations/etc.--and I TOTALLY get you on blocking out the Proverbs 31 woman. So daunting! So overwhelming! And does it even make sense in today's world?

I really resonate with your conclusion "The woman I am and will become is between God and myself. The world that I live in has no claim on it." Thanks for the reminder. :)

Anonymous said...

i have a high level of respect for the fact that you show yourself to the world. all your true feelings, your whole life.

Andrew said...

"She is strong and confident in her reputation" i think encapsulates Proverbs 31 and biblical women.

Ruth 3:11 i think is a beautiful picture of man and woman along with proverbs 31. "I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character."

Character, integrity, service, love. All things that make an already beautifully made woman beautiful :)

Anonymous said...

like you, i have always cringed at references to the "Proverbs 31 Woman," as well as most biblical references to what it means to be a woman... assuming that the speaker believed me to be less capable in God's eyes than my husband is.

a few months ago, i also sat down to really read proverbs 31. should've done it a long time ago! women are not meant to be quiet, subdude, mousy little things. we are not meant to only be daughters, wives and mothers! the woman that rises to the occasion and earns respect amongst her peers is to be praised!

i made a note in my bible that night, to remind me that this passage could easily be about a praiseworthy man. if my father, husband, brother & son can achieve all of the praiseworthy characteristics of the proverbs 31 woman, it will be a beautiful thing).

like you, it now brings me joy to hear reference to this chapter:).

i know you're tired of hearing about the battle over gender roles, but thank you for writing this anyway. i'm a work in progress as i get to know myself as the person God created me to be and i think your post helps!

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