Two years ago, I started a new journey. Up until that time, I’d never written for creative purposes – only for business. I had a desire to write from a biblically feminine point of view, and a dear friend encouraged me to do so. When I started writing, I never thought that I’d still be writing two years later. To be honest, I never envisioned that I would still have something to say, but God keeps providing me with material. I want to thank each one of you for reading. For those that take the time to comment, every time I fear that my ramblings are meaningless, you show me that no struggle is uncommon and when you are helped in some way, my heart is lifted high. Let’s see what this next year brings, because Madeline is now in her terrible twos.
Mostly ready for church, I reached over to grab my little white sweater and place it over my sleeveless blue jumpsuit. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and stopped. I faced the mirror. I turned to the side. I was the same woman, but I was a different woman. I still had the same scar on my upper left arm and the same arms that I haven’t liked for years, but I was seeing the silhouette of a different woman. She was a woman, that God was making into something, that she could feel good about. Suddenly I was comfortable exposing my arms. I took that sweater and carried it to the car. I told myself, “better bring it, just in case I get cold”, but that wasn’t entirely the truth. I was bringing it, just in case I freaked out about going sleeveless.
There I was with my exposed arms in a room with over 300 souls, but there were only two that knew the victory that I was celebrating. Me and my daughter. She knows because, we have discussed our body image issues. She sat beside me and smiled a knowing smile. This past week, I thought about it a lot and I marveled. I sensed that my last Sunday moment, was a pivotal moment in my life?
Like most people, I’ve lived with body image issues during my life. There are occurrences that may have sent me in this direction. Some serious – the innocence of a young girl being taken by someone that she trusted. Some trivial – the hurtful snarky remarks by women that I didn’t even like. It doesn’t really matter how trivial, because all of these occurrences shape how we perceive ourselves. Thankfully, how I have perceived myself, is not where the story ends. God is taking a caterpillar and turning it into a colorful butterfly. Ironically, it was as though my perimenopause years were my cocoon and now that I’m at the doorway of menopause, the metamorphosis is bursting forth. He is replacing my insecurities, with an ever-growing understanding of who He says I am.
There sure is a lot of heartache in this life, but I’m choosing to trust God with it. Instead of getting bogged down, I’m learning to focus on my blessings and the work that God is doing in me. My God is good and faithful. He loves me and calls me His beloved. My husband and I celebrated 35 years of marriage this week. He loves me, likes me and still thinks that I’m the most incredible woman on planet Earth. I could just stop there, but let me go on. I have two amazing children, and although they are each going through their own “growing pains”, I can see and believe that God will bring beautiful fruit forward. I have kind and thoughtful friends that love and accept me, exactly the way that I am. God has provided me with everything that I need, plus a little bit more. And finally, you actually want to read my ramblings. By the way, I’m celebrating my 2nd writing birthday soon – I’m now in my terrible twos.
I’ve wished that I could have gotten to this place sooner, but then arriving wouldn’t have been so monumental. Everything that matters takes time and hard work. That scar, is evidence of a life lived, mistakes made and a reminder to me that we all have scars, and we still need to be loved and accepted. Those lines around my eyes, tell a story of a woman who even though life is never perfect, she can still smile from a genuine joy that exists deep inside.
I realize that this might be a silly story to many, but I’m glad that I get to share it with you. It’s about way more than going sleeveless. It’s about being at peace – with myself and with God. Is there anything that you’ve been trying to hide? I hope that my story inspires you to “go sleeveless”.
Men and women are equally valuable, and come in all shapes and sizes, with a wide variety of personalities, gifts and interests, but God made a man to be very different from a woman. God composed a beautiful symphony when He created masculine man and then feminine woman. No matter what our cultural influencers are saying, whether platonic or romantic, men are attracted to a soft feminine woman and women are attracted to a strong masculine man. What are some of the characteristics of this strong masculine male?
Physically – his body is hard and angular and he is naturally muscular and strong. He can be a little crude and rough around the edges. He craves physical touch and reads it as love – this doesn’t define him as a maniac. He is a visual creature, noticing and appreciating feminine beauty.
Emotionally – he craves peace, and will hide his feelings when he feels judged or when he believes she’ll react badly. He will always have a little boy within himself. He needs the women in his life, to be light-hearted and fun to be with. He’s not your best girlfriend – keep the girl talk and shopping between girls and don’t ask him for an opinion on your outfit – he is afraid to say the wrong thing and if he likes it, you will know. He desires to please the women in his life.
Mentally – he feels the need to provide, protect and conquer. He naturally problem solves. He’s competitive, never allowing another driver to win the race to the traffic light. He thinks in terms of compartments or boxes – only open one at a time please. He needs you to need him – stop being so darn competent at everything.
Spiritually – sometimes, he has difficulty understanding spiritual things. Don’t use your knowledge or spirituality to intimidate him. Instead, be an uplifting inspiration to him by living your faith in front of him.
Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, you’re aware of the slippery slope that we’re on – the blurring of the lines of distinction between men and women. Sometimes, I’m tempted to go crawl under that rock, but then I remember – God has given me a platform to speak truth. Men are men and women are women – truth. They are created to be very different from the other, but when united as two perfectly tuned and masterfully played instruments, together they make a harmonious sound. One is not more important than the other, but one is to lead and the other to help. The leader instrument provides the direction and cadence and the helper fills in with soothing and soft sounds, helping the strong to be incredibly beautiful. Imagine for a moment, the helper instrument attempting to take over. No, the symphony was planned and it is beautiful when played according to the plan. No competition – just a perfect blend of each instrument completing the other, by playing their very special part and most importantly, the conductor guiding the process.
Being a strong leader is a high responsibility and many men don’t understand what it looks like. They will either buckle under a domineering wife and allow her to lead, or they will take the tyrant approach and rule with a heavy hand. A biblical leader doesn’t do either of these. He models his leadership after the example of Christ. He is a humble, self-sacrificing servant. He leads with truth but always seasoned with grace. He never runs over others. He is courageous and stands up for what is right even when it costs him peace. He never treats a woman harshly or as though she is lower than him. He respects women and values their input, because he recognizes that they are uniquely gifted by their Creator.
We may not be able to control the cultural trends, but we can certainly take a look at ourselves and ask the hard questions. Am I playing my instrument according to the Conductor’s direction? Am I the masculine man or feminine woman that God intended me to be? Am I helping the men in my life to be the masculine men that God created them to be? What are the areas that I can improve?
I hear other people talking about God’s call on their life. Starting a ministry, going to Bible college, training and going into a remote mission field. I’m excited for them and happy that they are following God’s leading, but I’ll admit that sometimes I feel like I’m inadequate. Every ministry that I’m involved in, is a behind-the-scenes venture. There isn’t acknowledgement or “stage-time”. I’m fine with this – even comfortable and at peace with it, but sometimes I feel like I don’t get to handle the big guns – kind of inadequate.
I was just crawling into bed, getting ready to settle down for some much overdue writing and then some television watching. It was going to be a nice quiet evening with my husband in bed next to me, doing his evening scroll through Facebook. Then the call came. It was a distress call. I was to throw a few items into a bag, get out the door to someone who needed me. I handed the telephone to my husband, who began to sooth the distraught soul on the other end of the line. I stood there completely frozen – stunned at this thing that was happening. So much was at stake here. I’m so inadequate. How would I be able to be wise enough and strong enough?
I flew down the highway. Praying constantly. I prayed for His protection over the hurting one. I prayed for wisdom. I prayed for God to keep my car on the curvy road and to keep the animals off of the road. I prayed that He would empower me to keep my mouth shut when I needed to, and to give me the words to say that were right for the moment. I felt inadequate.
What should have been a forty-five minute drive, became thirty minutes and when I drove up, my fears abound. My mind played tricks on me, replaying a time of a hurting loved one from my past – the one that I couldn’t help, because I was inadequate. I knocked. We embraced. We prayed. I prepared a meal. I did the dishes and I listened. I realized that my entire life was preparation for exactly this moment, and this was His call. It was the appointment that He had made for me. I then knew, merely listening with only a pinch of input, being in the room while they slept, and praying for them as I kept watch, was completely adequate.
His strength is made known in my inadequacy. 2 Corinthians 12:9