Unacceptable Heartache

Scrolling through her feed, she sees a prayer request.  A child with a debilitating disease, a husband fighting the ravages of cancer, a parent injured in a car accident, an elderly couple needing assistance.  She stops to pray, and something very treasured has taken place.  Facebook connects us to each other, and people who find themselves in horrible circumstances can feel the support of caring human beings.  But unfortunately, there is a dark side.  It is the loneliness of the unacceptable heartache.

 

What is an unacceptable heartache?  It’s not a real thing – no heartache is unacceptable, but due to shame, embarrassment, stigma and the fear of judgement, some would never feel the freedom to share their difficult circumstances or heartache.  At this very moment, you know someone who is experiencing unacceptable heartache.  A mother and father that cries because their child is rebellious and wayward.  A husband that walks on eggshells around his mentally ill wife.  A child who lives in a difficult home situation.  Someone held captive by a life enslaving sin.  A wife or husband that is lonely in their marriage.  A marriage that is falling apart.  You know them, but you do not know the pain that they are in.  They walk this hard, dark and lonely road alone.

 

What then can we do?  Get involved in the life of others.  Not in a nosey way.  Build relationships.  Be trustworthy.  If someone shares their heartache with you, two things are happening.  They desperately need to unburden themselves and receive support, and they are exercising great trust in you.  This is a monumental privilege – please don’t abuse their trust.  Be a friend.  Listen.  Help in the method that they are asking for help.  Never, ever share their story with anyone else without their permission.  Your mere presence in their “secret”, may be a lifeline to them.

 

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

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Square One

Which direction to take?  I will turn, do a little hopscotch, and go back to square number one – the genesis of Madeline Eatenton, so to speak.

It all began somewhere around five years ago, when I signed up for a study with a group of women.  It was on the subject of biblical womanhood.  I thought that I knew this stuff, but a refresher would be good for me, and I brought my daughter along, thinking that this would benefit her. Within the first week, my eyes were opened and my mind was blown.  This would end up being the most life changing, and relationship healing study that I’d ever participated in.

I was this woman who had been born in 1963, the same time that the women’s lib movement was gaining energy.  What I discovered over forty years later, would be that the process of growing up during this time, had slowly shaped and molded my thinking.  The “you go girl – don’t let a man hold you back” worldview had permeated my mind, and it had also made its way into the Church. It was simple – men were to blame for the unhappiness and unfulfillment of women, and women weren’t going to take it any longer.  The answer to the dilemma?  Throw everything male and female up into the air, and let the pieces fall where they may.

This study was different.  It didn’t focus on the roles typically assigned to males and females.  Instead, it took us back to creation and defined the God given characteristics given to a man and to a woman.  As I worked through this study, I was actually overwhelmed as I uncovered the various areas of my life that had been adversely affected by my under-cover feminist attitudes.  My marriage, parenting, friendships, career, ministries – all tainted in some way.  Why?  Because I was competing with the men in my life.  I was competing instead of completing.  I was convicted, but with conviction comes confession, and then freeing transformation. This woman would begin a new journey.  With God instructing me, I would begin the work of examining my attitudes, words and actions.  I would kick the habit of competing with the men in my life, and instead, I would eventually learn to love my God-given femininity.  I am a designer model.  I am specially designed by my Creator to be a soft helper, responsive to the needs of others, and to be a nurturer.  I am specially designed to be woman and to be fulfilled by it.

It’s a shift in thinking isn’t it?  For a shift in thinking to pay off, we also need a shift in actions and words.  For me, I must continually be asking myself hard questions.  The following is a list that I’ve compiled for myself.

 

>Is my demeanor loud and ruthless, or am I soft and pleasant to deal with?

>Do I attempt to control, manipulate or trick other human beings, or do I respect and honor the individuality of others?

>Do I admit when I’m wrong, and do I take responsibility and offer a genuine apology when I’ve wronged someone?

>Do I let other people into my life, and do I rely on them when needed, or am I too independent?

>Do I live in a way that I have extra time, energy and resources to share with others outside of my household?

>Do I believe that being a wife, mother and homemaker is as important as any paid job?

>Do I lead with sex toward men that aren’t my husband?

>Am I defiant, self-willed, self-centered or selfish, or am I cooperative, giving preference to others?

>Do I compete with the men in my life, or do I see myself as a helper, completer?

>Do I resent when others need me, or do I embrace my role as helper and nurturer?

 

These questions revolve around my character, and they don’t place me in a box marked “stereotypical roles for a female”.  I’m really good at handling money, so I handle our finances.  I’m strong in the area of administration and negotiation, so I handle quite a lot of business matters.  You get the point.  On the other hand, my husband is a fantastic cook, and he’s been known to do a load of laundry, run the vacuum, and bring me a cup of tea.

I’ve committed to live out the rest of my life as the feminine woman that God intended me to be – God’s kind, gentle, forgiving and compassionate daughter.  Since making this shift, I’ve seen amazing benefits in my relationships, and it’s very liberating to no longer be fighting for power or position in my work, ministries or other interactions, and I still have a voice and I’m still strong.  True femininity – this is where real girl power exists.