Christian, ministry, women

Room at the Church Table (Part 2)

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42

I find myself struggling with how the Christian church views the role of women in church governance. This is not a piece to argue for the inclusion of women in leadership positions within local churches, though I have definite opinions on this topic, but rather to look at the role women play within the local congregation that takes the complementarian view and how to better serve women within this context.

Complementarianism is belief that God created men and women different (though typically seen as equal) and prescribed different roles for them in life in general and in the family and church specifically. Examples of this are that husbands are the head of the household and wives the “helpmeet”. Churches with this perspective vary greatly in the execution of this belief with some churches not permitting women in any form of church leadership in any situation that includes men, from reading announcements from the pulpit or serving communion. Other churches allow women in all roles except as the pastor of the congregation. Most churches with this theological perspective fall somewhere in the middle.

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While I understand that stereotypes regarding what men and women are like can be grossly inaccurate, I’m going to, for the purpose of this piece, embrace some of the more common stereotypes. As a woman who has spent much of my adult life feeling inadequate because I didn’t fit the stereotype, there is a part of me that is pained by this, but also a part of me that understands that the stereotypes were formed in part because they do in fact reflect much of the general population of the church body. Even in my rebellion of these stereotypes, they reflect me in part as well.

In a typical congregation, you are more likely to fine women running the nursery and the Sunday School program for the younger grades. You are more likely to find men doing the more physical tasks of building repair, things that involve ladders and tools. If your church makes meals for new mothers, the ailing, or the homeless, those ministries are typically supported by women. If your church hosts a potluck, the men are more likely to set up and tear down the tables and chairs, and the women to cook and serve the food.

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Both men and women teach.  Even if not legislated by the church government, men are more likely to teach men and mixed audiences, and women are more likely to teach women and children.

If in fact, these differences are God created and ordained, then it makes sense that men and women would naturally fill different roles within the congregation. Let us assume that God has in fact ordained the prohibition of women from being pastors and elders. Then how does this impact women and the congregation as a whole?

  • When the elders meet to discuss finances, calendars, and building concerns, do they invite into their meetings the women who are running the Sunday School?
  • When a church member is struggling, is the hospitality ministry consulted on the best manner of meeting the practical needs of the this person/family?
  • When there is a conflict in the church that involves a woman, are female leaders consulted on the best way to address the conflict from a women’s point of view?
  • Do women’s voices lead worship for the female worshiper to follow?

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If women are really so different than men in the way we think and process information, if we are different in our nature and created to serve in different areas then men, then isn’t it important to at least include women at the table where decisions are being made? If men, who are very different in their nature and understanding, are left to make decisions the impact women, doesn’t it make sense to include women in the conversation?

If women don’t have a seat at the table where decisions are being discussed, they are not only not fully being represented, but they are not being ministered to in an effective manner.  Women aren’t being prayed over in person like their male counterparts nor are they able to offer their prayers in like manner. Women’s voices are vital to the health of the entire church community.

What if a football team only consulted offensive players and coaches in regards to practices, equipment, and plays, and never the defense or special teams? Why do we do just this in the church?

How can complementarian churches keep their convictions and still minister with and to women?

Make it a regular habit of include women in all church board meetings (elders, trustee, etc.), even if the men are the only ones who “vote” or need additional time alone. It’s not enough to go home and ask the opinions of their wives, or email some of the female leaders in the church for their input. There is a lot of wisdom found in the interaction of a group that cannot be replicated any other way. This is where the prayers of the faithful leaders are lifted up. This is where the congregation finds it’s direction, so why do churches intentionally handicap themselves by tying one of their hands behind their backs? The broader the perspectives and the more varied (age, race, gender, etc.) those seated at the table, the less likely you will be to fall into group speak or have blind spots within your ministry.

What if we simply invited women to the table? 

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Proverbs 31, women

Idleness or Idling?

She looks well to the ways of her household
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
(Proverbs 31:27)

When I think about being idle, I think about doing nothing. Sometimes that thought sounds downright glorious; I work a lot. My career as a teacher with additional after school responsibilities, along with running our household, added to my personal aspirations as a writer, I figure that I am working something like 14 hours a day. That gives me just enough time to sleep and spend a little meaningful time with my family over dinner. I mean, clearly I am not an idle person. I am always doing something. Of course, I do take some time to “relax” at the end of a hard day, because we all need rest, and I can’t imagine God would mind that.

I yearn to do nothing once in a while. I remember a male friend of mine explaining the “nothing box” as described by Mark Gungor in “Tale of Two Brains.” I was fascinated and extremely jealous. My brain is in constant working mode. I want to stop running through my to-do-lists in my mind and stop troubleshooting, lesson planning, and re-hashing everything. Honestly, a warning for women to not be idle seemed to me like it might be misplaced. The women I know are mostly like me, running like crazy and stretched too thin.

 

But what if we aren’t talking so much about idleness in the sense of doing nothing, and look at it more like idling, in the way that your car idles. The car engine is on, it’s using fuel, it’s humming along, but it’s not actually taking the car anywhere. It’s putting wear and tear on the car’s engine, but producing nothing of value. Sometimes, I think I’m eating the bread of idling. My engine is racing, but I’m not making any forward movement. I’m stressed, I’m busy, but I’m not accomplishing a whole lot.

Here are 5 things that I have found helpful for me when I find myself eating the bread of idling:

Turn To-do-lists into goals: Sure we have a ton of to-do-lists, whether on paper or in our heads, but do we have larger plans with steps to achieve them? Here is a goal: This summer I want to de-clutter the house. I am going to work every Tuesday mornings for 3 hours and work my way through the house starting in the sunroom that has become just a giant closet. I will end each cleaning session with a trip to Goodwill to make donations. Etc. (More detailed and the smaller the steps and having a definition of a completed task makes for a better goal.) Instead of goals, we just add “de-clutter the house” to the long list of things that looms over us. That long list with no action plan actually feels heavy. Carrying around that list makes us feel tired which makes us need more time to relax even though we haven’t actually done anything. Plan with specifics.

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Make a schedule: I’m not a Type A personality. I am disorganized and more fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, so schedules are not something that I’m good at making or keeping. However, carving out time to work towards your goals really matters. Once I started setting aside a few hours on a Saturday morning dedicated to writing and promoting my writing career, shockingly, things started to move along. When I set aside specific times each day/week for Bible study or exercise, I am more likely to actually accomplish those things than when I just assume I will “get around to them.” As much as I love school breaks, I actually find that I am far more productive in achieving my non-teaching goals during the school year when I’m on a more structured schedule then when I am on break and technically have more time to achieve those goals. Being on a schedule, like being on a budget, is simply telling your time how it will be spent rather than letting your time tell you. Plan your life.

Take a Sabbath rest: A few year’s back, I made a decision to start taking a Sabbath rest each week. From the time I come home on Friday until church is over on Sunday, I try not to do any work. And by that, I mean paid employment tasks. Setting aside time to not work helped me to be more productive when I was working. In part, I found that without limitations on when I would work, I find myself working whenever I was thinking about work or whenever the email came to me which was all the time. I also found that if I worked on Saturdays I would still find more I could or “should” do on Sundays, but if I put it off until Sunday, I could still finish what was important.  In the same way, I made a choice to leave work at work most nights. Sure, there are nights you have to do work, but for the most part, if the work came home “just in case” there was time, I carried it back to work feeling guilty. Define your boundaries.

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Plan your free-time: This might sound ridiculous if you don’t have much free time, but it’s so easy for your free time to disappear without actually making your feel rested or relaxed. Let’s say you only have 30 minutes and you go on Facebook or Instagram or whatever’s your poison. You will skip around to what is important and get off. But if you go on without any limit, you might find yourself 3 hours later watching some video of a cat for the 4th time. You are wasting time, but not really relaxing. Had you read for 2.5 hours and then spent 30 minutes on FB, you’d probably felt so much more rested and maybe even a bit accomplished. If you enjoy taking walks or being crafty or whatever else, schedule time for those things and then let social media or Netflix fill in the remaining gaps, not the other way around. The same is true for longer periods of free-time such as vacations. If you plan the “fun” things you want to do, you will end vacations with memories, but if you wait until you feel like it to do something fun, you might find yourself heading back to work or school having zoned out on a computer for a week and time has simply passed you by. Plan your fun.

Know your self: I spend a lot of time on a computer for work and writing and I enjoy social media and movies for fun. I could spend an entire day in my chair on a computer without ever doing anything physical. I love movies, but I know my limitations with TV shows. Nothing robs my time more than a Netflix binge. I start off watching one episode of a TV series and then I tell myself I’ll just watch one episode every weekend, then it’s every evening, and then it’s, “Maybe I can just finish the season over the weekend.” The next thing you know I’ve spent 8 hours a day “catching up” on 6 years of a TV show I didn’t have enough interest in to watch when it was on the air. I know I get caught up in TV shows, so I try to really avoid them and stick to movies, which are over in an hour and a half. The same can be true for book series for me, but it’s not quite so bad. Be honest about what is a time suck rather than breathing life into you. Make time for what rejuvenates you and set limits on what is mindless and steals your time. When you finish 3 hours of hiking how does your soul feel compared to when you finish 3 hours of YouTube videos? What about 3 hours of knitting with friends verses 3 hours of Facebook? Chose wisely.

In this day and age, it’s so easy to get sucked into living life in idle mode. My goal is not to work harder, but more efficiently. Work hard; play hard; live life more fully.

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Adulting, elder care, family, Gangrene Gables, grief and loss

Harbinger of Doom

 

Me: I just spoke with the lung doctor – I have a prognosis.
Sharon: Guess we all will be chatting later today then?
Me: Want the blunt version or wait for me to call tonight
Sharon: I’m all for blunt.
Me: Eric?
Eric: Whichever is fine. My prognosis is 2-5 hours if she keeps this attitude.
Sharon: Lol
Me: 6 months – year
Eric: Wow. That changes things a bit.
Me: I cried. Now I feel better and feel like we need to make plans. The lung doctor will see her this week and give her a prognosis
Eric: Good that it’ll be coming from him.
Sharon: I agree. This changes everything.
Me: Alright I need to go back to class and be grown up

As a pastor, Mom helped walk quite a few people from this life into the next. She had been there when a mother told her young son that his father had died, she had helped people share with their loved ones that they didn’t have much time left on this side of eternity, and she had cared for countless families in their grief, and had always taken time with them so she could write a eulogy that was extremely personal. Some of those times were sweet and meaningful; occasionally they were not. Mom recounted a tale of a family watching Baywatch while their loved one was lying in the bed next to them in the last hours of life. We joking asked her, “Well what do you want us watching when we tell you that you’re dying.” Mom’s response was Young Frankenstein, her favorite movie. Don’t judge! Mom wasn’t always a pastor. From that day on, long before Mom even got sick, we would joke that we were going to regularly put Young Frankenstein on and then call mom into the room to tell her, “We need to talk.”

In addition to Power of Attorney for all underwear related things, I gained a new title, Harbinger of Doom. I had been the one tasked with the responsibility of gathering my siblings and heading home the night my Dad passed away, although at the time the call came all we knew was that Dad had been in an accident. I spent hours on the phone that Easter weekend calling straight through our phonebook trying to reach friends and family. I was the one that sat down just over a year ago and explained to Mom that while we didn’t have a prognosis for her illness, the more generic prognosis via the internet was 3-5 years with a range of less than a year to 13 years. I was the one that finally forced the doctor’s hand into giving us a prognosis for Mom, so I would be the one to tell Mom what he said.

I called the lung specialist while on lunch break, hoping to catch him. He returned my call after I had returned to class, but fortunately I was assisting another teacher at that moment and was able to step out and take the call. I stood there in the entrance to my school, between the two sets of doors where I would have privacy, cell signal, and protection from the elements. He explained that no one really knows when these things will happen and how quickly or slowly the disease will progress. I told him we weren’t going to hold him to it, but we didn’t know how to plan without some idea. I told him that Mom recalled the other specialist talking about her lungs being a miracle, and being convinced she had at least ten years. I said we needed to be thinking about nursing care, assisted living, etc. and two years or ten years made a big difference. That’s when he said, “Six months to a year.” I thanked him, went to the staff room and cried. Another teacher comforted me as I gave in to the grief that had been growing for over a year since the diagnosis came through. The people I work with have always been incredibly supportive. When I did return to class, the teacher who had been teaching my class at that time asked me if I was okay. All I could do was shake my head no. I sat down and sent him an email explaining. Before he even got the email he had offered to come back during his prep period in an hour and cover my class for me. I declined but with much gratitude. Teaching has always been a comfort to me. I can shut out most of the struggles of my outside life, and it offers me a respite from the trials.

Harbinger of Doom            That evening my siblings and I would gather at the rehab and give Mom the news. It would be hard. It felt a little like role reversal, telling your parent about their life and helping them to navigate this road. How many times had my parents nursed me to health, helped me walk through break ups, or advised me on the best paths to take for my future. Here we were returning that favor to Mom. We were gentle, but blunt. I delivered the basic news and offered to further explain what the doctor has said, which wasn’t much. Mom cried. We cried. We were sorry we hadn’t brought Young Frankenstein.

Eric: Barb, if you are coming tonight, we should meet in the lobby and all go in together, I think.
Me: Almost there
Eric: I am at the intersection outside of the center. I will be there in 30 seconds.
Me: Overachiever. Did you bring Young Frankenstein?
Eric: I forgot.

 

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Christian, family, parenting teens, writing

Resignation Instead of Resolution

“We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us, we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” – C.S. Lewis


Jay and I are growing into homebodies who don’t like to go out and party, like ever, but especially on on New Year’s Eve. Long gone are the days of staying up and ringing in the new year with friends and noisy parties. New Year’s Eve has become a day of junk food, movies, and barely staying awake for the ball to drop. One more thing: for the past eight years, it is a day to reflect on the past year and capture it in a post. Unfortunately, these past years seem to have been competing to earn the title of “The Worst Year Ever” and each year clinching the title. Until now. I can’t even say how grateful I am that I finally had a year that wasn’t the ultimate champion. So what was this year? This year was one of resignation. Not Joy, not relaxation, not hope, but surrender. While I would have loved a year of celebration, I am content with a year free from tragedy and registering lower in heartache scale than the years that proceeded it.

2017 was a year of accepting that our family is much smaller, and we will forever be missing people at our table.
2017 brought the realization that our children are growing up, moving out, and moving on. Maybe they aren’t out-growing us, but our time “raising” children has a shelf life of only a few more years.
2017 brought the letting go of dreams we had for our kids that they didn’t have for themselves. This was the hardest one for me.
2017 brought the letting out of so many words that I had stored up both in my soul and in text messages as I wrote the first draft of a memoir chronicling the loss of my mother.
2017 brought surrender to God’s plan for our family’s life, a plan that in his mercy He did not reveal ahead of time.
2017 brought reflection into who I am in Christ, regardless of any earthly relationship, position, or belief. I’m not confident in who I am, but I’m learning to lean into Him.

family 17This year wasn’t my favorite of all years, but giving in to the life you have is easier than the turmoil that comes with fighting it. Resignation is different than giving up, although sometimes it feels the same. Resignation brings peace whereas giving up brings hopelessness. And while I wouldn’t say this was a peaceful year, I will say that I’ve experienced more peace this year than I have in a long time. Surrendering to the idea that God’s plan looks very different from my own plan, and grieving dreams of a life I do not have are not easy, but they do lead to something far better. Resignation is just a step in my journey. It isn’t sexy or glamorous, but it’s where I’m at, and I feel okay with that.

A lot of years I write about my hope for next year, but I’m not going to do that. I have no idea what next year will bring or what God has planned for me, and I have no desire to even dream about that. I am resigned to whatever it is, and that seems like a good way to enter a new year.

 

 

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Bible Study, Christian, ministry

Room at the Church Table (Part 1)

Sometimes, when you start writing, your piece takes on a life of itself. That’s what happened here. What started out completely different, stirred up some memories that I hadn’t really considered for a long time. Remembering actually helped me understand more about how my views on church leadership have formed. This piece is dedicated to Pastor Lin, for faithfully shepherding me through my adolescent years. Thank you!

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I grew up Methodist. Our denomination runs much like government in that each local church is run by different committees and is headed by an Administrative Council. In addition to the different committees, each year the church had an Annual Charge Conference in which all church members voted on church business. United Methodist Church pastors are appointed in their pastoral positions (a year at a time for typically less than a decade before being reassigned) by a Conference and are overseen by a District Superintendent who is also appointed and serves in that position for a limited time. On a larger scale their are bishops who oversee conferences and a General Conference that meets every four years to discuss the business of the entire United Methodist Church. It was part democratic rule and part corporate America and of course ideally always lead by prayer*.

My family was steeped in this tradition and on more than one occasion I recall a conversation comparing our church’s form of government to other church systems. My family tree has at least one UMC pastor for at least four generations, dating back into the 1800s. I have a stack of conference minutes from the turn of the century and a pair of Bishop’s chairs from the 1948 conference in Boston.

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It made sense that my family was well represented in our home church. I think it was a rare period of time in which my mom and/or dad was not on the Pastor Parish Committee or Administrative Council. My parents understood not only church government but also the unique challenges of pastoral life. Every time a new pastor was appointed to our church, my parents were sure to invited them over and let them know that our home was a safe and understanding place. (Being a pastor is hard!)

I grew up active in my church, and in my senior year, when I was elected president of the newly formed youth group, I petitioned my pastor and the Administrative Council to include me in this leading council which was after all comprised of the presidents of all of the other church committees. And because I was too young to know better, I didn’t fully understand the value that my church instilled in me at 17 by agreeing to my request. As a result, I sat as a voting member on that council for a year until I went off to college.

I recall one Administrative Council meeting in which a financial issue came up, and my passionate, change the world attitude had me in opposition to most of the more fiscally conservative members of the committee. I had so little life experience, very little understanding of the true cost of things at this scale, and an unrestrained passion for doing good. I might have actually read aloud the parable of the rich fool where a man who has stored up his wealth dies and cannot take his money with him. If memory serves me right, I did this while sitting with the fake “baby” I had to carry around for a month for my health classes life skills project. Seriously, God bless those people for the grace they showed my 17 year-old-self. (For the record, I still think my perspective was right. We should have spent the money. I was, however, outvoted. Truth be told, I’d probably still read the Bible verse if I had the chance again.)

That was also the year I found myself in the pulpit preaching a sermon on Youth Sunday. Of all the things I am grateful for in my life, the fact that there is no evidence left of this is at the top of my list. I think I tried to cram a dozen sermon illustrations into the thing and share my deep love for Jesus with others. It was very emotional, for me, not for the congregation who had to watch me choke back tears as I concluded my ill written sermon. This is proof that some aspects of our personalities really do not change.

When my friends and I wanted to lead an after school Bible study in our public high school, Pastor Lin came and joined us/helped teach that study and supplied the Bibles that lived in my locker that year.

When I wanted to run a contemporary church service, my church supported it by giving us the sanctuary on Sunday nights and you guessed it, Pastor Lin came.

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My point in sharing this with you is to express the impact the church’s and especially Pastor Lin’s openness to including me in church life had on my Christian walk and faith. By including me in church life as an equal member, I learned that my voice mattered. I learned that my opinions had value. I learned that I wasn’t too young to live for Jesus. I also learned life skills like public speaking, what business meetings looked like, and how to civilly disagree while expressing one’s own viewpoint. I developed leadership skills, a strong work ethic, and learned a lot about ministry through trial and error. Eventually, I would lead youth ministry for over a decade in the church I would later settle into as an adult. My youth ministry time was directly impacted by the experiences I had in my own youth group days in my first home church.

My views on church leadership and ministry have changed over the years as a result of my life experiences and deepening understanding of scripture, but I am so very grateful that what I learned when I was young was that I mattered to God, and I mattered in his kingdom.

“We are too young to realize that certain things are impossible…
So we will do them anyway.” 
― William Wilberforce


*This is a brief and incomplete overview of this particular form of church government. All churches have some form of governance which are all ideally lead by Biblical teaching and prayer. 

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family

Decorating for the Holidays

I thought it was time to include another excerpt from my book. This one is dedicated to my best friend who really goes above and beyond.

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Dec 8, 2014

Me: Just swung by Mom’s house. There are enough Christmas decorations to decorate a small nation. I am a less is more person. However, I did put out the hideous plastic snow/angel people.   It’s decorated simply, but acceptably. Linda came over and helped me because Mom did say she was family.

There are  regular friends, and then there are friends who will stand in the freezing cold at night helping you shove Christmas lights up the rear end of a hideous plastic snowman just so you can tell your mom that, yes, her house it decorated for Christmas. Linda is just such a friend. Having been friends since high school, Linda is more family. Mom actually declared Linda family, and she said was always welcome at all our family gatherings. I took that to mean that the childhood rules that no one was to EVER see how messy the basement was or to never let anyone in Mom’s bedroom, didn’t technically apply to Linda any more.

Linda helped me select a small assortment of Christmas decorations to make Mom’s home feel festive both inside and out. Mom was concerned about the less than festive appearance of her home to her neighbors, and because she was confident she’d be home by the holidays, she didn’t want to return home to a house that didn’t feel like Christmas. Linda and I set out the light-up ceramic Christmas tree my aunt made in the 1970s. It always reminded me of my childhood home. A few decorative boxes, a crèche, a wreath, and a few poinsettias topped off Mom’s den and front entryway. The inside was decorated in no time.

Unfortunately, the outside was really what Mom was concerned about. And as fate would have it, this particular night was absolutely frigid. Mom had a few plastic decorations that other than needing to be wired to her railing in order to keep them erect were simply plug in and go. Of course, the lighted Christmas garland that I was trying to weave through her ironwork porch column was not cooperating. With a handful of twist ties, a lot of grumbling, and some almost frozen fingers, we were eventually able to get her porch looking fairly festive. The last thing on the agenda was figuring out how to make the miniature plastic snowman light up when we lacked the proper size light bulb for its socket. The makeshift plan was to remove the original electrical unit, take an extra set of white lights, and shove them into the plastic hole at the bottom of the snowman. It took a little time and patience, but it worked. Now, I could finally tell Mom that, yes, her house was decorated for Christmas and there was nothing to worry about.

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Christian, family, marriage, Proverbs 31, women

Proverbs 31: A Love Hate Relationship

Like every woman, I have sat through my fair share of Bible studies and women’s events that focus on the Proverbs 31 woman. I have wanted to love this woman, but I just don’t know how I feel about her. First off,  the Proverbs 31 woman is not so much about womanhood; it’s about wives and mothers. And while many people might think that is six of one, half a dozen of another, it’s not. Women encompass so much more. There are many women who have yet to become wives or who may remain single. There are women who are divorced or widowed. Those who are married may or may not be mothers. Where do these women fit into this passage and all those Bible studies? Secondly, this woman is loaded. Quite frankly, many of our income levels don’t allow us to be the kind of women who have servants to be feeding in the morning. But having a few servants would give me a little more time in my day to do all the things this woman is apparently able to do from dawn to dusk.

Of course, the Proverbs 31 woman, let us remember, is a fictionalized composite person not an actual woman, and she cannot be replicated by everyone….or maybe even anyone.

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As a wife myself, I have a bit of a love hate relationship with the Proverbs 31 woman. I desire to live up to the expectations set for me as a Christian wife, and yet I find her Pintrest perfect and there is a reason I don’t go on Pintrest. In addition to her unrealistic expectations, being a wife is only a part of who I am. Yes, I am a wife and mother, but I am also a friend, sister, employee, writer, social justice advocate, and human being. I cannot focus 100% of my efforts on being the Proverbs 31 woman, lest I lose myself in the task. And while many aspects of who I am can certainly fall under the umbrella of the Proverbs 31 woman, such as employee and social justice advocate, it’s important for me that my identity is more firmly rooted in Christ than it is on my role as wife and mother. I am an expert in what Brene Brown calls “Foreboding Joy.” I know that my positions as wife and mother can be stripped away from me in one tragic moment. I have imagined it a million times as my kids drive away in the car or my husband’s flight is taking off for a business trip. However, my position as daughter to the Living God can never be taken away. That is who I am first and foremost.

In A Year of Biblical Womanhood, Rachel Held Evans tells us that Proverbs 31 is a poem that men memorize and sing to their wives and the other women in their lives (mothers, daughters, sisters). Did you catch that? MEN. It was never meant to burden women with a task list of things to become. Wife (check). Mother (check) Domestic Goddess (check). Business Owner (check) Pintrest Perfect life (check). I have made it into a burden that is too heavy to bear.

I love the idea she shares in her blog post on this topic that Jewish women cheer one another on with the phrase “eshet chayil” or “woman of valor.” Women, we need to cheer each other on. Women building one another up. Men building women up. That sounds like a world I want to live in. It wasn’t meant to weigh us down but to lift us up.

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So, I’m working on becoming a woman of valor. Sometimes that is by making homemade doughnuts. Sometimes it’s by swinging by McDonalds on the way home from work so I don’t need to cook. Sometimes it’s by sitting and studying the word of God and learning more about His amazing character that moves me to grow more like him. Sometimes it’s by skipping my quiet time and watching a movie with my husband after a long week.

I haven’t arrived. I don’t expect to arrive, but this is my journey, and I’m still moving forward.

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