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Archive for the ‘biblical womanhood’ Category

“We sometimes hear the expression ‘the accident of sex,’ as though one’s being a man or a woman were a triviality.  It is very far from being a triviality.  It is our nature.  It is the modality under which we live all our lives; it is what you and I are called to be – called by God, this God who is in charge.”  Elisabeth Elliot deeply explores the subjects of calling and obedience in her book, Let Me Be a Woman.

 

Being alive and finding myself a woman indicates to me that God has a purpose for me in being female.  It is not given to me to change which gender I am, or to ignore my gender and act however I feel.

 

A couple chapters later, she writes: “All creatures, with two exceptions that we know of, have willingly taken the places appointed to them…  What sort of world might it have been if Eve had refused the Serpent’s offer and had said to him instead, ‘Let me not be like God.  Let me be what I was made to be – let me be a woman’?”

 

The rest of the book explores what it means to be a woman, why God created females, and how we are to relate to the rest of the world, and particularly as wives to husbands.  Reading it recently was refreshing and encouraging as I struggle to learn submission.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Grace

Human beings are totally depraved.  We can do nothing good apart from God.  He enables us to be good.  According to the good pleasure of His will, He gifts us.  Grace is more than a status, more than something that rescued us from Hell and promises us Heaven; it is real now, useful for our lives. 

Deserve.  Competition.

Though marriage is good and normal and to be desired, it is not something that anyone deserves.  Nor is it a competition to be the most deserving.  Feeling that the wife market is a contest tragically cripples my relationships with other women as I become jealous and judgmental.  Or I get frustrated with men for not being discerning of who is most worthy of their attention.

Grace.

Marriage is a gift from God.  We become married, stay married, and excel at marriage only by His grace.  The timing and circumstances are results of God’s goodness, even when there is long waiting, heartbreak, rejection.  The goal of marriage isn’t for us to be happy.  It is a good gift, but it is also a good work. 

Perfect.

There is so much pressure to be perfect, as though that would persuade men – or God Himself – that I am worthy of marriage.  And when I fall short of perfect, I despair of marriage.

Grace.

Grace answers this, because God’s grace is merciful.  Everyone already knows I’m a failure.  Marriage is not a synonym for heaven, the reward of the already sanctified; rather, that relationship promotes our sanctification.  God’s grace looks on my imperfection and gives me what will teach and grow me.  For now that gift is a time of hope.  One day He may make me more like His Son by making me a wife.   

All kinds of perfect.

Looking around at the women who are already married, as though this was scientific, I see all different kinds of strengths and skills and types that have attracted men.  And I have no idea which kind of perfect my future husband is going to want/need/find attractive.

Because men get to do the initial choosing, I also lose sight of the fact that men don’t deserve wives any more than wives deserve husbands.  So I shouldn’t be putting too much stock in what they think or how they feel.  The pot cannot say to the potter that the potter formed it wrong – but if the pot is a gift from the potter, the person receiving the gift would be rude and rather silly to tell the pot that the potter is forming it wrong.  Nor do I know many men who reject the good gifts the Potter has made for them.

Grace.

I believe God is much more involved in the process of finding a spouse than we give Him credit for.  There isn’t any scientific reason why a man should find one woman more attractive than another, why he should notice the shy girl and not go after the more exuberant one, for example.  God gives a man his wife, Proverbs teaches.  It’s almost like magic, and it is nothing I can control, even by being perfect. 

Striving, worrying.

But I want to control, so I try to be all kinds of perfect.  I second-guess myself.  I over-analyze everything about everybody.  Maybe I gave the wrong impression of myself.  Why do people always assume things about me that are false and that don’t help my marriage prospects?  And then I worry that I’m not good enough.

Grace. 

One good thing about grace is that it applies to other people as well.  I’m not a vindictive, no second-chances friend, so why do I expect anyone to treat me that way?  Do I have the humility to let others show me grace?  Do I have the confidence that God can work in their lives even when I’m not all-knowing – or even when I do something selfish or stupid?

Peace, joy, fulfillment, vessel. 

Confidence that God is active, and good, brings peace.  I rejoice when I see Him working, when I receive a gift – whether it is a compliment, a conversation with a friend, or (if the Lord wills, someday) a husband.  I can rejoice when things don’t go as I had planned because it is evidence of a much smarter and more loving Person working.  There is fulfillment in being each day the person God wants me to be instead of the person I am guessing (this minute) would give me the best chance at getting married (this year).  In the life of each person I know, I don’t play the role that I want to play, or that they want me to take on; I can be the vessel for God’s grace and truth that they need, that He intends.  I would much rather have a marriage based on serving a spouse as God has designed than as either of us imagine or demand.

Grace. 

There is a sense in which God’s grace reveals how I could please Him better.  He is perfecting me, faithfully, and will not cease to do so when I get married.  He guides me in the next step to take: not by excessive analysis of every possible outcome of my choices, but by personally revealing where I am weak and where He has made me strong. When I have the perspective to see that He is using others in my life for His purposes, I can follow the examples of other godly women, without jealousy; and submit to the men teaching on how to be a virtuous woman and valuable wife.  

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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If you were my Facebook friend, you would know that I’ve been in a questioning, controversial mood lately.  I decided that instead of just letting these thoughts float through my head, I’d expose the Facebook world to the incessant barrage of deep or significant questions that most of us choose to ignore or forget.  So I post the questions, and friends comment.  I try not to participate much.  Truly, this thinks-all-the-time writer isn’t a know-it-all for all the thinking.  And I have real questions.  Sometimes I think I have the answers, and I need the strongly-self-confident opposition to teeter-totter me back the other way, just a bit.

 

Back in November I took a weekend to read through old journals.  There were a lot more than I thought, so I didn’t even read through all of them.  My object was to see what God’s been up to.  Has He been changing me? What can I praise Him for?  I rather failed in the praising part.  Mostly I kept the things I discovered to myself, and what’s more – in the back of my mind.  But one thing I know I realized was that I’m not nearly as confident as I used to be.  For my pitiable Facebook friends, it may be hard to believe, but I’m gentler.  I used to take a firm and lengthy explanatory position, with rather contempt for other ideas, about predestination – to myself of course, in my journals.  Except each time I wrote, the position was a little different, and it was like I hadn’t realized my understanding was changing.  But I’m not like that now, not as much.  I don’t always know the answer, and just because I think of an explanation doesn’t mean it’s true.

 

Last night I was watching the newer film version of Emma, the one starring Romola Garai.  For some reason I was paying attention, and realized that Emma doesn’t just learn in the course of the story: she grows.  There is a difference in her reaction to correction, gradually growing in humility and grace as the movie progresses.  So not only is she learning not to manipulate, and to be kinder, and to pay attention to the world around her – she’s also moving from defending against correction, to beating herself up when she’s wrong, to contemplating the opinions of others, and finally, to almost anticipating their criticisms of her.  She’s not flippant any more, but she’s not stormy either.  The Emma who marries Mr. Knightley is still a bit silly, but she is – I want to say calmer, but every time I think it, I picture her tear-stained face protesting that she cannot marry because she cannot leave her father – more profound, maybe?  She is truly thinking of others, and that makes her own opinions less relevant.

 

So I hope that I am becoming such a woman.  I am praying for humility.  For kindness and gentleness.  I want to be honest, and to be known, and to be helped and encouraged.  So I won’t be avoiding controversial topics.  Anyway, they seem to chase me down.  Just when I was letting the doctrines of ecclesiology simmer in a peaceful slumber, a friend brought them up again, awakened me to more questions – and most pressing, how to apply what I believe.  Next Facebook status: “Do you need a pastor?”

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

 

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This October my friends and I created yet another Pigfest.  It was a short two hours attended by about two dozen debaters.  There were four new Pigfesters.  A few children showed up and were passed around and played with.  The weather was fine.  My living room was packed, and the kitchen hosted an autumn afternoon feast of snack food.

Topics:

Pain and difficulty are the best ways to learn. The term learning applies to any lesson you need to learn.  You can learn bad as well as good things through pain.  But you can learn bad things in other ways, too, so the method is neutral.  “Best” in the proposition implies good.  But do we really mean most effective?  Or are we talking about the most moral way, or the most compassionate way, to learn?  Difficulty makes a student a part of the experience.  It is what makes you feel immersed in the situation.  Jesus learned obedience through suffering.  Failure, a frequent side effect of difficulty, is a memorable teacher.  It’s personal.  Perhaps pain and difficulty are good ways to learn some things, but not all things.  Does it make a difference if the pain is voluntary or inflicted from the outside?  Does the student want to learn?  An example was given where hearing and understanding are sometimes more effective than fighting through difficulty.  Different personalities learn in different ways.  Will we, if we grant this proposition, discount people who didn’t go through as much?  Should we seek out pain and difficulty?  It is wise to learn from others’ mistakes, from their pain and difficulty.  To what extremes should we seek out pain and difficulty?  Should we pick a wife who is opposite of what we think would be “compatible”?  Look at who Jesus picked for His wife.  They who are forgiven most love the most.  But we are taught in the Bible to not intentionally choose the wrong thing.  People can make mistakes without wicked intent.  Lessons are ineffective if the student is unwilling.  Where did you learn your best lessons?  Learning the clutch on a manual car is difficult.

Use of medical drugs ought to be discouraged because they treat effects while hiding causes of pain and illness and issues and are equal to the sorcery spoken against in the Bible. Is there a difference between pain medications, antibiotics, and anti-depressants for the purpose of this resolution?  Pain meds ought to be discouraged as instant solutions, as the first response.  How do we find out what’s really wrong if we suppress all the symptoms?  Medications are the result of lots of study.  Pills also enable reckless lifestyles.  By substituting for immunity, they weaken the body’s natural immune system.  But should people be required to use natural functions to their potential, without aid, like the ability to walk across the state?  If we were to grant competition and survival of the fittest, we are unnaturally increasing the survival chances of those who are not genetically and biologically as fit as others.  Pain medications are compassionate.  Side effects of some drugs are worse than what they are treating.  Some medications thwart your body’s own recovery system and make you worse in the long run.  When we use medications, we are not dependent on God.  What about sorcery?  Is it possible that sorcery is associated with pharmacy because sorcerers borrowed some legitimate techniques from doctors?  Was the herb itself wrong, or the context?  What about mind-altering drugs like LSD?  Do they open you up to the occult?  If you know the cause, are pain medications ok?  Like in childbirth?  (Isn’t pain in childbirth part of the curse?  Is it wrong to try to get around it?)  Antibiotics actually treat causes.  Relieving pain and curing diseases is trying to be most like nature before the Fall.  Is there a difference, for this resolution, between natural medications and synthetic ones?  Back to witches.  Maybe the word was translated sorcery instead of doctor for a good reason.  Are mind-altering drugs always bad?  They are bad to the point that they put you outside of your own mind.

There are legitimate reasons for polygamy, benefits from its practice, and it is acceptable in God’s sight. According to the prophet in the Bible, David’s wives, aside from Bathsheba, were gifts from God.  In history, especially biblical history, we see problems associated with many wives, some of which are peculiarly the result of polygamy.  There are blessings also, such as the ability to have lots of kids; delegating responsibilities.  What about the concept of two becoming one?  Isn’t that how God created marriage?  Yet God never condemned polygamy.  The New Testament requirement for elders is that they be the husband of one woman.  If we as Christians are to submit to the government, here in the USA polygamy is wrong.  1 Corinthians 7 teaches that each should have their own wife or husband, and that they possess each other’s bodies.  It was not a sin under the Old Testament.  Does it have benefits to the women, or just to the men?  What is a reason to practice polygamy?  Marriage was often culturally the only means of provision and protection for women.  Polygamy extends this to women who would otherwise have been single.  Women in some cultures derive their worth from bearing children, and the only moral way to do that is in a marriage.  War decimates the male population, leaving an imbalance corrected by one man marrying more than one woman.  You can take care of a woman without marrying her.  Fathers can care for single women.  It is impossible for there to be that oneness that marriage is supposed to create between a man and his multiple wives.  Marriage is a picture of how God wants the relationship to be with His Church.

Lack of submission by Christian wives is a major reason for the degeneration of Church in the West. We are not talking about Feminism as the movement, but about the specific point of wives not submitting (to their husbands).  What is the evidence that wives are unsubmissive?  The pervasiveness of jokes about women submitting is a cultural recognition that something is not right.  Has Christianity degenerated?  Evidence of famous pastors falling into sin.  Lack of submission comes from lack of respect (of wives for husbands).  But there is also lack of leadership from men.  There has been a drastic stepping down of men in their homes BASED ON the disrespectful reaction of their wives.  The blame is not solely on either, but it is a cycle.  How can this phenomenon be blamed for the degradation of the Church?  What does it do to the Church?  Marriage is an example of how the Church should respond to Christ.  Disobedience to God’s command (in this case, for wives to submit) makes us ineffective Christians.  Disrespect is not a license for men to be sinful.  Unsubmissiveness discourages leadership.  Women are not edifying men.  Promise Keepers encourages groveling instead of strong leadership.  Manhood and Womanhood should be exercised in the context of real life instead of just demonstrating manliness off hunting or femininity at a scrapbooking retreat.  Is the issue not submitting, or usurping authority, taking on the leadership that belongs to men?  Look at Deborah.  She became the leader in the army, but it was specifically described as a shame to the men for being unwilling to take the lead themselves.  Wives not submitting has an effect on children, who are left confused about authority.  God is not our servant to be bossed around by us; we submit to Him, as the Church.  Noted that one of the first reactions in discussion was to compare or shift blame.  Such avoidance is sinful.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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I called this edition Pigfest on the Roof, and nominally themed it off of Fiddler on the Roof, inviting people to bring a traditional side dish or dessert for the feast.  But we did not meet on the roof.  Instead, we crammed 21 adults and 7 children into my living room, kitchen, and hallway.  I thought about taking pictures this time, but I am simply not that organized!

In the 3 hours we met, the Pigfesters engaged in seven separate debates.  Everyone behaved very well, which made moderating rather easier.  The topics were interesting and well-engaged.

  1. Because the government is anti-God and immoral, it would be immoral to pay taxes. Jesus said to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.  But what is Caesar’s?  To how much was Caesar entitled?  When the sitting executive’s face is not on our coin, as it was in Jesus’ day, is it still to be rendered to him?  Does our personal judgment determine the justice of a tax?  Is the income tax even legal?  Is it rather unconstitutional?  But the resolution was giving moral reasons for refusing to pay taxes, not legal ones.  Must Christians submit to immoral governments?  Is doing something morally wrong in the name of submission ok?  In the Bible, children were wiped out with their fathers for the sin of the father, but we see no mention of justification because they were just doing what their fathers instructed.  Do the layers of responsibility in the government protect us from culpability?  That is, by paying taxes, are we not simply enabling the government to make good choices?  That they make bad choices is a potential consequence of our trust.  But, we are in a democracy where we the people choose our government.  Some of our taxes do go to moral things, like roads.  It was suggested that we look at the federal budget and deduct from our income tax a corresponding percentage to that which the government spends on immoral activities, and to enclose a letter of explanation.  There is a doctrine of Lesser Magistrates, which discusses the conflict between obeying contradicting authorities or whether citizens are required to submit to authorities not established by the higher authority (in this case, the US Constitution).  Jesus paid his taxes (the story of the coin in the fish).
  2. Men have no biblical responsibilities towards their families. Paul had to have been married, so it is possible he abandoned his wife for the call of God.  (This was highly debated.)  If a man does not provide for his own family, he is worse than an infidel – the Bible.  A husband is to love his wife as himself, which often includes caring for her needs.  At this point, the contributor of the resolution conceded that the Bible did have some responsibilities listed for men towards their families, so the debate shifted to what they are:  What is the definition of men?  It includes fathers, husbands, sons, and brothers.  Brothers were commanded in the Mosaic Law to take their sister-in-laws as wife if they were barren widows (law of the kinsman-redeemer).  Lot is an example of a man whom we do not, in our culture, consider to have been a good father.  He offered his daughters to the lustful crowd – and what’s up with that?  But, was he a jerk, or was he righteous?  Scripture is often addressed to fathers, which seems to be significant.  Some of the sons of Jacob slaughtered a city to avenge their sister’s rape.  Is that a responsibility?  God is presented as a Father.  Are we not to imitate Him?  Does God have any obligations to His children?  Obligations (and by implication, responsibilities) have to do with consequences.  When God takes an action, he is responsible for the consequences, and thus obligated to abide those consequences…  Likewise, a man is obligated to deal with the child he has if his wife conceives.  God’s fatherhood is often demonstrated in punishment.  But He is also merciful.  Are fathers, therefore, required to imitate God’s grace as well as His chastising?  Whence comes the impulse to provide and protect?  If not from the Bible, and if not from the character of God, then where?
  3. America has gotten worse since the Women’s Liberation movement. Worse was described as moral deterioration: divorce, abortion, crime.  And the women’s liberation movement was specified as that movement that rose in the 60’s and focused on equal opportunity, women leaving the home for the workplace, and sexual liberation.  Perhaps it is not the actual liberating of women that caused the moral decline, but the attitude women took.  Are we talking about a cause of moral decline, or is the women’s liberation movement yet another symptom of a larger rebellion.  It was a rebellion against God.  “We hate men” was not the origin of the movement, but rather, World War II empowered women when men were unable to work the factories and women left the home to take up those responsibilities.  Or perhaps women’s lib. started with suffrage.  Are not all created equal, even male and female?  Does that not apply to roles?  The real wickedness of the feminist mindset is not, “We hate men,” but “We hate God.”  For they are rebelling against God’s created order.  Perhaps women, though, were not the instigators.  Maybe men abusing their authority, really oppressing them (for example, physical violence) caused women to assert themselves.  What does this subject matter today?  Abortion is going on today, and is horribly unjust to fathers.  They have no legal right to stay the murder of their own child.  A result of the women’s liberation movement is that men were not allowed to be men, and so have abdicated their roles.  But shouldn’t men have stood up against the women’s liberation movement and defended the God-given order?  Those who did were slandered.  Really, emasculation is a result of the Fall and the Curse, when God told Eve that her desire would be for her husband, it is the terminology of desiring to be “over” her husband, just like sin “got the better of” Cain.  Women today do appreciate their liberties, without wicked motives, and make good use of them (women doing missions without their families).  The Christian worldview has been proclaimed as the kindest to women.  Are we kind to women to fight for equality in the area of sexual promiscuity?  Should we not have fought for equality the other way, of neither men’s nor women’s promiscuity being acceptable?  Even though we may disagree with the movement, we can use the women’s liberties today for good: a woman who doesn’t believe women should have the vote can choose to submit her vote to her husband’s views.  The movement is continuing even today, but is evolving, and so is not necessarily from the same motives as the feminists had in the 60’s.
  4. Sharing is unnecessary and not biblically supported. Sharing is defined as co-ownership, especially as opposed to lending.  The distinction between (and comparative value of) giving and sharing was a theme throughout the debate.  Are we saying that taking turns is unnecessary?  When a child’s friend comes over to play, what is the host child to do?  Should he keep his toys to himself?  Or – perhaps he should truly give the toy, not expecting it back.  Sharing is looking out for other’s interests, putting others ahead of yourself.  [Ownership] rights are unbiblical.  We put so much emphasis on our rights, but God calls us to give up our rights.  Christians are told to love our neighbors as ourselves.  Is there a difference morally between offering to share with someone else, and requesting that someone else share with you?  Sharing may be unnecessary when giving is an option.  But to whom are we to give?  How much?  Sharing makes life better and more efficient.  Instead of buying a toy for each child in a family, they can share one toy.  Sometimes there is no money to buy for each individual what they need, but they can have what they need if they all share one.  How is hospitality done if not by sharing?  God owns everything anyway; none of this property is really ours.  God made us stewards, and we are to exercise wisdom and discernment in how best to use what He has entrusted to us.
  5. God withholds because we do not ask. If we are obedient to God, then we abide in God’s love, and God does what we ask.  When we walk with God, He gives us the desires of our hearts.  The Bible encourages us to entreat God – even to the point of nagging Him.  How does God’s sovereignty fit into the equation?  Is God really dependent on our actions?  God gives some good gifts without prayer (common grace: rain falls on just and unjust; and special grace to Christians, but without us asking).  When the Spirit intercedes for our weakness, what if our weakness is that we don’t ask for the right things?  Can He bridge that gap?  Generally that verse is not interpreted as praying for us when we are not praying, but interceding for us as we pray.  God changes His mind when people act or plead with Him.  Either God lies or He changes His mind, for he told Moses that He would destroy Israel, and then God didn’t.  If our children acted that way, we would punish them…  It seems best to act as though what we do and pray matters, regardless of what we believe about the sovereignty of God.  Daniel knew God’s prophecy that He would do something at a certain time, but Daniel still prayed for it to happen.  Is God’s plan allowed to be malleable?  If not for that, could we have this redemption story: God creates the world perfect, but man sins, so God gets to demonstrate His lovingkindness by sending His only Son to die for us.  Or did God plan it that way all along?  Isn’t consistency an attribute of God?  Maybe God must only be consistent within His character (for example, mercy).
  6. Ownership for the sake of hospitality is the best kind of stuff and the best kind of ownership. Best is defined as optimal, in the short term and/or in the long term.  People are not equivalent to “stuff.”  The other reason to have a lot of stuff is to be like a dragon, hoarding riches and laying on them because they bring pleasure to you individually.  Are families included in hospitality?  If you own something for the purpose of benefiting others who are in your family, is that still the best kind?  There is this trend toward larger and larger master bedrooms, which serves no hospitable purpose, but often detracts from available space for hospitality towards others.  Hospitality, though, is an attitude, and can be demonstrated without stuff.  Should we buy a lot of stuff to be hugely hospitable?  There is a difference between purchasing stuff for the sake of hospitality and making hospitable use of stuff bought for other reasons.  This resolution did not address the inherent value of the property in question (ought we to be hospitable with our Play Station?), but rather, with the motive in possessing it.  Hospitality enables relationships.  Maybe a better kind of ownership would be for God’s call: some people need their own space to refresh in order to do what God has called them to do.  If it is impossible to share without making yourself useless, hospitality might not be the most important thing.  We should be willing to give up property when God wants us to do something else.
  7. Intimate friendships with the same sex is just as important for men as for women. Intimacy was defined as vulnerability especially in the senses of accountability and sharing emotions.  Men see the world differently: things versus relationships.  Guys do have as intimate of relationships, but do not express them the same way as girls.  Spending the day hunting and sharing a one-sentence commentary on their job (men) can be as intimate as a three hour conversation (women).  But the argument of the resolution is that men need to express more – a lot of times, and not in a way that looks like women.  Take, for example, David and Jonathan, who had a much closer relationship than what is common to men in our culture.  Men are afraid to reveal themselves, especially for accountability.  There is also a difficulty in expressing masculine intimacy for fear of seeming “queer*.”  Are women really good examples of intimate friendships, or rather than holding each other accountable, aren’t we gossiping and discussing things that shouldn’t be said?  Many men experience closer friendships with other men before marriage, and miss those relationships afterwards, but have been unable or have neglected to keep them up.  Men have been influenced by the doctrine of individualism, so that they overvalue doing things on their own and not asking for help.  The hard world necessitates a shell especially for men, who are in the world more than women.  Men don’t have time for relationships.  World War II hurt the willingness of men to be open, because they did not want to talk about the horrors they had witnessed or even committed.  Were male relationships more prominent in the past or in other cultures?  *queer in the sense of homosexual

Each 15-minute segment seemed to go too fast and be over too soon.  The incredible value of Pigfests it that they do not allow you to really complete a topic, or all the aspects brought up in the debate.  So we keep thinking and talking (and writing!) for weeks to come.  I think it is interesting how there are often two themes weaving their way through the debate.  At some points there were up to four people with their hands up waiting to speak, so the different threads were carried on well.  For myself, I had prepared a resolution, but the things I wanted to bring up with it were touched on in so many of the other debates that I decided not to present mine for debate.

All in all I am quite pleased with how the night went.  God answered all of my prayers for the party.  As hostess and moderator and human being I felt more focused than I have at some Pigfests, and for that I also thank God.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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At the bottom of my Blogger website, I have a quote that I consider to be both great insight and fair warning.  Jane Austen wrote,

“A lady’s imagination is very rapid;

it jumps from admiration to love,

from love to matrimony, in a moment.”

That is to say, when a woman sees signs of admiration in a man, she imagines he is in love with his object of admiration and begins to plan what to wear to the wedding.  This is true, though rather conceited, even of ourselves.  To feel admired by a man suggests marriage to us.  I don’t know why.  And to confess the truth, we hear a woman admiring a man and think she is destined for him.  Or we do imagine ourselves in love when we have experienced only the slightest flutter of respect or attraction.

Girls are like that.  Jane Austen knew it.  I have not found many girls who could refute it. In Fiddler on the Roof the eldest daughter sings, “There’s more to life than [happiness in marriage]… Don’t ask me what!”  We’re a little obsessed, even when we are striving to focus on other things.  We see the world in matches, even our forks and spoons are paired off into couples or families.

And even though this is just how things are, life is not made simple by these unfounded convictions.  The rapidness of our imaginations does not only make it awkward for men to be around us (and more so when we act on these emotions or ideas without checking them against what we ought to do); it makes determining the actual sources of our emotions and regard rather difficult.  With these expectations come frequent disappointments.  Some people even teach that we ladies ought to quiet our hearts, to “guard them”

from feeling and hope and imagination.

I’m not talking about lust, but a way of sorting out and reacting to life.  Most men and women will marry, and the origins often are something like admiration, then love, then commitment to marriage.

So we have this option, to prevent our rapid imaginations.  We can go into a nunnery until the knight in shining armor rides by to select his bride.  Or we can treat the world as though we consider ourselves nuns (often complete with vows of silence).  I have, in the past, tended to be unwilling to do the work it takes to relate to men without assuming things about them that are not significant, or that are even untrue.  Part of this was for my own sake, as I said: life is much simpler when you do not let yourself interact with or admire others.

Another part is that we presume men take similar imaginative leaps, and that they are not to be trusted with any them.  And good little girls who are trying to be modest, well, we do not realize that men are not quite as rapid as we, and we assume that sparking admiration will make a man desperately in love…  It goes something like this:

If I smile at him, he’ll think I like him.  And if he thinks I like him, he will fall in love with me.  When he falls in love with me, he’ll want to marry me.  But I don’t want to marry him!  I barely know him!

So the good little girls don’t smile.  Never mind that if I smile at his compliment, courtesy, or joke he might think I was pleased – and I was, but I don’t want him to know.  In the words of the “faultless” Mr. Darcy, “Disguise of every sort is my abhorrence.

I know it is risky, but wouldn’t it be better to be honest?  I dare say that a woman can trust a man with a smile or a laugh.  We need to stop trying to control the situation.  What I have practiced, before I learned this, was rejecting people, not rejecting suitors.  When someone is being themselves and meets with no response, or no attentive audience, his identity is being torn down.  My heart has been my idol, so that I guarded it and exalted it at the expense of people.

What about this?  If I don’t smile at him, he’ll think his joke wasn’t funny, and he’ll try something else or give up relating to us entirely.  For a woman frustrated with the reluctance of men to marry, it is rather contradictory to be discouraging them from even interacting with us.

It is now my goal to be the woman of kindness and quietness that God has called me to be, to do the extra work it takes to contain the eager imaginations and assumptions that are my tendency as a female.  I will trust God with the consequences of being myself – in modesty and discretion and humility – but also with being myself as a sister, an emissary of God sent to build up (even nurture) those around me.  If I do fall in love, I will trust God.  If a man falls in love with me, I will trust my good Lord Jesus.  These situations are not impossible even when they are unwelcome.  And I would rather suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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They loved to fight, valiant horsemen with swords and horns and arrows.  But did they fight for her?  Sitting home, left behind to wait on a king who no longer thought of anyone or anything but darkness, watched by lustful eyes fueled in all his deceit by his selfishness – what good was it for strong men to fight if their homes crumbled in their absence?  Would this be her whole life, waiting for people to die, watching decay and singing of dirges?  How could a shieldmaiden ward off the subtly corrupting whispers that truly threatened her kingdom?  An enemy manifest, however terrible, is easier to defy than ghosts in the shadows.  And she yearned, for morning and for restoration and for love. 

A brother she had, whom she loved.  A king she had, like a father to her.  A people she had, who would follow her.  They that went with the puissant soldier on the paths of the dead went because they would not be parted from him.  She stood alone weeping as she watched him go, but he from whom she could not be parted was her uncle.  Where will wanted not, her way opened.  Disregarding formation, she rode close to him.  In the battle she learned that what she wanted more than death, more than glory, was to preserve the beloved lives of her friends.  Alone she stood, facing death, shielding self and kindred from his icy blows. 

And then she wasn’t alone.  Her little companion, brought out of sympathy, stood up and began a change in the woman.  Valiantly, for no other reason than that the desperate woman should not die alone, he reached up to stab at death.  Together they brought him down.  Together these two unlikely heroes suffered, both sleeping in the triage houses in the city.  More came, not for glory or to make whole again their human weapons.  The healers came to restore the broken, to call back the fevered wanderers. 

She woke in the middle of a journey.  No healer had she been; her hand ungentle, left to fight its own battles.  And here at last beside her, appointed also to stay at home, stood a man who could outmatch any of the revered men of valor she had known.  Yet he spoke not of the love of fighting, but of love for that he defended.  He did not love being a ruler, but loved that which he stewarded.  His own glory meant nothing, but he wanted to do what was wise and brave and therefore praiseworthy.  He would forfeit his life to keep an oath. 

Her reflection stood before her, cast in new light.  She also fought, stewarded, took pity, and offered her life.  Now she saw what it was for, and it went deeper than opposing the things she feared and hated.  As the days passed, the man grew to love her.  No more did she miss someone to stand for her, to speak for her, to plan for what pleased her.  He was there.  And her heart changed, or else at last she understood it: to be a shieldmaiden no more, but to be a healer and lover of all things that grow.  Turned from the dark battle and dirges to the life that had been crumbling, she found peace and love and bliss. 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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