Is Religion The Only Offender Against Women?

praying woman

(FreeImages.com/BrendaMihalko)

I recently saw a friend’s comment on Facebook about how a lot of issues within the church are based on gender issues.  I understand the validity and even pain of what she is saying because I certainly saw the reality of some of this personally.  Yes, the Church has allowed some of those false ideas and lies from the past to remain.  They are just labeled with “religious-sounding” terms so it sounds better or more Biblical.

Just because I call a dandelion a flower doesn’t make it so.

So often, terms have been falsely defined, and so we reject the term without understanding that within every lie, there is often a nugget of truth.

When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he took God’s Word but twisted it and misapplied it in the wrong context, making it a lie.

There is the term submission mentioned in the Bible, but it has been often twisted and misapplied in the wrong context.  Within the same passage as submission is also God commanding husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church.

How did Christ love the Church?

How did Christ love the Church?  By domineering, forcing submission, commanding their service while lording His position over them, devaluing them, ruling with harshness and unrelenting pride…?  No!  Rather, Christ served.  He laid down His life.  He listened.  He healed.  He cried.  He restored.  He forgave.  Everything He did, He did for them.  Christ did not come to the Earth to be served and but instead to serve.  His was an example of humble, servant leadership, always seeking the best for the other person.  He saw the value of the weakest, most vulnerable in society and acknowledged them and gave them His time and attention.

What Scripture shows is not one ruling, and the other serving and submissive/subdued.  What Scripture shows is both husbands and wives are called to lay down their lives to love/serve another one.  Both are called to put the others needs first.  Both are called to Christ’s example of Agape love, which is the most selfless and humble love of all.  Both are required to lay down their life for the other.

I wrote the following in response to my friend’s FB post, with some additional thoughts:

It is sad the way religion has abused women. It is also sad the way the world abuses women. One tells us that we are inferior to men. The other often continues to promote the same thing by taking it from a different angle, telling us that to be important we have to prove we are like men or better than men, which only says, “We are only important if we can prove our worth by being like a man or better than a man.”

What if the truth is, our uniqueness is part of our amazing, beautiful package of worth?!!! It’s not in being like a man or better than a man, because that actually feeds into the lie; it’s merely a reaction to the lie rather than the authenticity of the truth.

It’s also not about us being a sub-category, inferior, subdued, oppressed, or dominated.

The truth of what I see in Scripture is God restoring the broken image — the bad rap. women got at the Fall (false teaching, BTW). In religious circles, women are often blamed for the Fall.

God always noticed the down-trodden, the wounded, the vulnerable, the oppressed, and the undervalued.  That is why I believe He made sure He restored that broken image by how He demonstrated His thoughts concerning women in His life on Earth.

Jesus revealed Himself to women who in that society often felt unnoticed, unloved, undervalued. He demonstrated that He saw, heard, and honored them.

Jesus allowed women to be the first ones present to testify of His resurrection. Women were the first ones to see and hear Jesus in His resurrected state.  Interesting how the very things that women seem to feel within in religion — not seen or heard — are the very things Jesus did for them.  He saw them and revealed Himself to them.  He spoke to them and heard their cries.

God speaks of many women in the Bible whom He showed He valued, regardless of how society at the time regarded them. By lifting these women up and telling their stories, God shows that He heard and saw their worth. (See Abigail, Hannah, Sarah, Rebekah, Eve, Esther, Miriam, Jochebed, Rahab, Bathsheba, Deborah, Lydia, Priscilla, Dorcas, Mary Magdalene, Mary, Elisabeth, Mary and Martha, Samaritan Woman, woman caught in adultery, Tabitha, Damaris, Naomi, Ruth, and the list goes on.)  Entire books of the Bible were dedicated to telling some of these women’s stories.

He showed in the Proverbs 31 woman a woman of amazing dignity, strength, resourcefulness, honor, and trust. She made the decisions for the running of her household, for doing business, for buying land. By sitting with the elders, her husband demonstrated great trust and respect in her abilities. She had freedom, responsibility, and the trust of her husband.

That’s the kind of woman God has called me to be, and I am thankful that His picture is of strength, dignity, honor, trust, resourcefulness, intelligence, wisdom, etc…!

God has restored in me so much of the image that was broken. God alone knows what our purpose looks like — religious doesn’t, and the world doesn’t. Each are just vying to react against each other — too busy pitting against one another.

The authentic image steps out and away from the mess and is secure in knowing her worth.

Religion rejects our image and undermines it.  It says we are inferior and meant to be controlled and dominated by men.

The world rejects our image and tells us there is no value in the way we were created unless we compete to be like a man.  This is nothing more than once again undermining our image.

Christ shows the Father’s heart, and what we see is that women are unique, a glory to God, they are clothed with strength and honor, virtuous, and our voices are heard.  We are seen, we are heard, and we, as women, are valued.  We don’t have just a place in God’s Kingdom.  We are an integral part of His Kingdom!

If we want to know our value, we won’t find it in the world, and we won’t find it in religion.  We will find it in the God who made us, who loves us, and who shows the greatest servant-leadership by lifting us up and calling us into positions of amazing influence and honor.

We don’t have to be more or different to be validated!  We already are of infinite worth!

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The Silent Voice

Microphone

(FreeImages.com/TomJackson)

Growing up, I experienced the nurture of loving parents, but I also grew up in and around a culture where it was expected that women were to be the quiet, affirming, supporting ones.  In fact, a strong woman was perceived as a threat to most men in our spheres.  I remember wishing I was a guy… because I did think and wanted to be able to contribute intelligent thoughts and insights.

In and around some of those spheres, a “child” was considered a child until they had a home of their own.  As a female, my parental authority was then transferred to my spouse’s authority.

There is an element to this that is true and healthy: children are under the protection and authority of their parents until they reach adulthood.  It’s the parents’ job to train their children to take increasing responsibility until they are able to make the transition into adulthood.  Husbands do have a responsibility to protect and give spiritual guidance to their families, but this is not to the exclusion of the wife’s influence or voice within the home.

In my growing up environment, there were many families that took the authority issue to an extreme.  Children were considered “children” until they were given permission to marry, but they were also told whom and when to marry, where to work, what jobs to work, etc…  There were many adults I knew who still were not marrying the ones they loved because it was not allowed (in their 20’s and 30’s).

You might wonder why didn’t those adult “children” just do their own thing.  When you have been raised to obey and not question your authorities or you are considered rebellious, you dare not question the system.  Who wants to be guilted or called rebellious because you dared to question something?  The stigma would be too harsh.  My voice was controlled and “silenced” in some of those circles (not trying to reflect this back on my parents; this was the environment of the families and teaching in which I lived).

I remember going on a mission’s trip to Russia.  During my stay there, the wife of the main guy in charge of the entire operation in Russia pulled my sister and I aside and told us one day that we talked too much and that guys don’t like women who talk.  Again, my voice was shamed and silenced.

Within a number of church circles with which we associated, the women were also told to keep silent.  There was not a lot of opportunity for women to have a vocal presence within the church.  The result was I envied the men who had the honor of vocally getting to share because I had to silence so many thoughts that were brimming over in my heart.  I did share them with the Lord and even when appropriate with fellow women.  My voice though felt disqualifed.

[Note: The point of this blog is not to discuss what the Bible does and does not say concerning the roles of men and women.]

My husband is a quieter guy.  He also learned to be quieter, but that is his story…  Because he is quieter, I remember people accusing me of “wearing the pants” in the family.  Again, I taught myself through the continued experiences of my life to hold back, shut down, silence my voice because some male might see me as a threat.

[Note: I had no intention of being dishonoring of my husband, but I simply had an opinion that was articulate and insightful.  Somehow, wisdom and insight coming from a woman was a threat to some people.]

My longing to be heard, to have a voice led me to blog.  Some might be misinterpreting what I am saying as being a self-absorbed preoccupation with a need to be heard.  My motivation for blogging though was that God had given me a voice to be heard and somehow it needed to be heard so I began to blog.  The “voice” He gave me was to share the things that He is teaching me on this journey, called life.

There are times that I can be in a group of women and will even share a few things, but still feel not “heard.”  Part of that is because sometimes we are all so desperate to be heard that no one is really listening.

Sometimes, we are all so desperate to be heard that no one is really listening.

Why is being heard so important?

Why is it so painful to feel like no one hears or cares to really hear you?

Have you ever been in a room brimming with people, the noise is deafening, but in the middle of the noise, you feel unseen and unheard?

Is there more to “seeing” and “hearing” than the physical sense?

Is it more the sense of feeling loved, validated, wanted, respected, appreciated, and noticed for which we are really looking?

What are we desperately desiring in the pursuit for validation, respect, and appreciation?  Isn’t it about connection, love, and belonging?  Isn’t that where we truly find purpose?

Yet, we look for purpose sometimes in the very things that disconnect us from connecting, from receiving and giving love, and from really experiencing the stability that comes from truly belonging. 

There is commitment that is required to really belong.  Yet, those who need that sense of belonging the most are the most likely to “shy away” from commitment.  It is frightening, risky, vulnerable.

As I seek to find my voice, I am also aware of the pitfalls.  It’s easy to try to find my voice and in the process I forget about everyone else’s voice. 

Do I enjoy my “shining moment” at the expense of others? 

Right now in my journey, I am still learning to find the courage to be heard, to not apologize for being heard, and to also in the process learn to listen to the silent cries of all the voices around me, longing for someone to care enough to truly listen.

To My Four Sons

I really like how the green turned out. I think the trick is using a less contrasting final highlight than I have been using on my other knights. I think it looks more natural. Also this is the first time I got enough courage to paint all four of...

(http://www.everystockphoto.com/photo.php?imageId=12225330&searchId=1d692e84a65e5fce12ee5106d1a0e3c6&npos=40)

Dear Sons,

Bear with me as I meander down “memory lane”…  I wanted to share a few thoughts for you as I think of the type of men I pray and eagerly await that you will become.  Today, you are boys, but in just a few more “tomorrows,” you will be men.

It seems like just a decade or so ago (more like three), I was the girl with the paper dolls, the piles of books stacked on top of my summer hammock, and the dreams of meeting and marrying her Prince Charming and having lots of his charming mini-mes to raise.

I grew up mostly with sisters and one younger brother.  I knew a lot about the feminine world, but the masculine world enchanted me.

Seeing these magnificent “creatures” of such broad shoulders, strong arms, tall forms, deep voices was captivating.  I was fascinated with the world of men: so much physical strength and leadership.

My dad was such a great example of the willingness to physically labor for his family.  He came from hardy German-stock and knew what it meant to work hard.  Monday through Friday, he worked at his job, and on Saturdays, he worked all day on household projects.

Those same hands though that could wield an ax and split logs, wider than my hips, also knew how to gently cradle my face and tell me that I was special.

It’s a beautiful thing to see that such strength can also yield such gentleness. 

As a girl, my daddy’s hands symbolized his protection and provision but also his benevolence.

Even when I wasn’t aware of it, as a woman, I “looked” for a husband who knew how to lead like a shepherd: with kind leadership that protects and provides.

I remember the first time I noticed your own daddy’s hands.  It was the weekend he came to meet my parents for the first time.  Your daddy and I were sitting at the table talking, and I looked down and noticed those hands of his.  They were lean, long, clean, and strong.  I could tell they were capable of demonstrating both strength and gentleness.  They were hands that were capable of wrestling the rotor-tiller and also of tenderly cradling a newborn babe.

I’ll never forget your daddy’s vows on our wedding day.  In part of his vows, he said, “…A knight must also both lead and follow.  I promise to be head of our marriage relationship as we both follow our Lord’s will…  Unclear leading is fruitless.  I will engage in daily prayer, seeking the Lord’s will for our lives. …My sword will slay many foes out in the world, but I will lay it down on our doorstep, reserving only gentleness and tenderness for you.  A knight fights first for his king.  Likewise, as high as I esteem you, I will place our king and Lord first in my life.  Secondly, but with equal vigor, a knight protects his princess, his wife…”

Your daddy has lived out his vows faithfully to you kids and I.  He hasn’t been perfect, but your daddy has with heart-felt conviction, lived out the sweaty, messy, soul-aching commitment to the promises he made to me those 13 years ago.  He has sought to lead us with humility, gentleness, and conviction.  This weight of responsibility can either drive you to despair or drive you to your knees in prayer.  Your daddy has been resolutely steadfast in looking to his Heavenly Father in prayer for an example on how to lead.

Sons, we live in a world of such conflicting opinions.  On one side, men are exhibited with primal grunts of raw, brute strength.  On the other side, men are portrayed as weak, imbeciles, insensitive, and inferior to women.  Neither is correct.

It is a fact that God has made men to be strong, but what does true strength look like?

Strength is learning how to yield your physical muscles to serve your family and to protect your family against harm.  Sometimes, protection means using physical attributes, but it should always involve spiritual strength and wisdom to guide around or guide through the dangers. 

Strength is also learning how to restrain your “fleshly” reactions and desires.  It means sometimes you do that which is inconvenient and uncomfortable in order to listen and meet the needs of the hearts of your family.

Sons, we live in a big world, full of many pit-falls, but we also have a Big and Good and Loving God who will guide you around those snares, if you yield to Him.

Your daddy got it so right when he said that a “knight must also both lead and follow.”

Sons, perhaps the biggest challenge you have to conquer is not enemies or temptations “out there” but the “enemy” within.  You see, Sons, if you can learn to yield to your Heavenly Father and in Him to conquer your own pride, anger, lust, greed, fears, etc…, you will have fought the greatest battles. 

Learn to conquer your own selfish desires, and you will know how to cherish the princesses God has in store for you.

Learn to control the unbridled “passions of your youth”, as the Bible calls them, and you will know how to treat others and yourself with respect and kindness.

See yourself as God sees you, and you will be able to view others as God sees them.

Replace the lies with truth, and you will be able to stand courageously for that which is good and right.

Sons, be men of honor who do the right thing — rather than the popular thing.

Be leaders who guide, rather than brutes who dominate.

Sons, never objectify women.  See them as beloved and created by God for His unique and special purposes.  Treat them with respect.  They are your complement, and they are to add balance to your life with their own contributions.

Sons, guard your hearts, your eyes, your tongues, your emotions, your bodies.

You are loved by God, created by Him for a uniquely, special purpose.  God has made you in His image.  Don’t let anything or anyone cause you to believe otherwise.

Stand firm in the Lord, in the power of His might.  Fight His battles — not your own.

Sons, know that no matter how many times you fall, and sadly enough, you will fall at times, there is a God who stands waiting and longing to forgive you and to enable you to live the victorious life He created for you!  Don’t ever give up. Get back up.  Stand.

Sons, above all else, know that I love you and even more so, God loves you.  If you don’t feel it or recognize it, cry out to Him.  He loves you with “an everlasting love, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”  You are His beloved, forgiven and created to bring glory to His name — the name of the One who died to save you.

Much love,

From the woman who will always be your Mom/Momma

 

Embracing Womanhood

Amy 1

(Picture By Laura Patrick Photography.)

Today as I watched my kids play happily in the warm sunshine, digging in the dirt, and chasing balls, I couldn’t help but think what the miracle of their lives represent — the miracle of motherhood, the miracle of womanhood.

We live in a day when staying home and being a mom seems mediocre or insignificant.  When asked what we do as women, the expected response is often for something of worth or significance — something beyond being a homemaker.  The proper response of our worth or measure being that of some noteworthy career, where we can demonstrate our equal or superior intelligence, status, and capabilities with that of men.

There is nothing wrong with a woman having a good career and being educated.  The point is a good career and several degrees are not necessary to prove the worth of a woman.

Why do we as women feel that we have to compete with everything a man does to demonstrate our own worth?  Why do we feel that we must do and be everything a man is to prove that we are equal or superior to men?

What is at the root/heart of this competition?  Could it be insecurity?  Could it be a reaction to past history?

Women are of equal value, equal intelligence, and have gifts that equal men in significance!  Yet, in all our striving to prove something are we actually proving the opposite and degrading our own species and value?

If our value is in the variety, diversity, and distinctions of our particular genders, why do we strive to be like a gender we are not?  By trying to prove that we are like the other gender, do we not reinforce the image that our own gender is weaker, less significant, less valuable than the other?  If our gender has distinctive value in its differences, why do we try to operate as if we are the same as the other gender?

Motherhood, the demonstration of the uniqueness of our gender as a woman, is one of our greatest gifts to society.  Yet, it is often scorned, ridiculed, or viewed as subservient.  What enlightened/educated woman wants to be viewed in this modern culture as “merely” a homemaker?  “What honor is there in that?”

Motherhood is a distinct gift to society — perhaps the greatest contribution we can give to this world!  It is the gift of life, the continuation of the species, the formation of a character and life, the extension of the life cycle, the hope of our future, the potential for benefits to all of society through ingenuity, creativity, and new inventions produced by the next generation.

No other gender can create, bear, and nurture life!  No other gender can protect and bear life within its own body.  Motherhood is a unique opportunity — distinct from the other gender!

Distinct differences with women are their unique gifts to perceive, feel, nurture emotionally — not just physically, create, and color the world with passion, creativity, and a unique perspective.

The femininity of women is not a weakness!  Yet, modern society portrays attractive, sexy women as being as strong or stronger physically then men, aggressive, tough (emotionally and physically), and sporting clothing that decries hints at femininity.  The only hints of femininity is to continue to portray the wrong view of women: as objects of sexual gratification and lust.  Thus, these modern women are portrayed in sexy clothing, that is as raw in its design as in its message: women are meant to lust after, to be a sex object.

This view might illicit strong reactions.   Modern women will react to the idea of men lusting after them, which they rightfully should.  Yet, women have bought into the error — continuing to dress with raw, provocative clothing as if their only value is in being a sex object.  Why else would we put so much undue attention on sexual attention?  Is it to feel powerful?  Do we think by dangling this hold over men and then yanking it away, we control them?  Does controlling men somehow make us strong or stronger?  Does control ever demonstrate true strength?

Does control ever demonstrate true strength?

Does avoiding being a sex object mean we reject any intimation of our femininity or womanhood?  Does it mean we wear unattractive clothing that cover any hint of our feminine form or any hint of our distinct attraction to the creative, colorful, softer, more nurturing sides to our nature?  Would that also not be a disavowal of our womanhood, a perfidy of our distinctions as women?

To be a woman means you must be strong — a strength with its own distinctions and uniqueness!  The singular differences of our own gender requires a strength of character, strength of purpose, strength of physical endurance, strength of emotion.  As women, we expressly create, nurture, sustain, and contribute to life like none other! 

Not many men would readily volunteer to undergo the challenges that women must in order to preserve, nurture, and sustain life.  Most women would rather endure the challenges of pregnancy, child-birth, and raising young children rather than hear their husbands whine and suffer through it.  (Not that all men would be whiners.)  The point is that our womanhood proves our value because of our unique contributions!

Women are not valuable because they can be just like a man or be superior to men.  Women are valuable because of who they are!  The essence of womanhood is the very distinction that gives value to women.

If we want to be respected as women, then perhaps we should stop trying to prove we are the same as men — as if the distinctions of manhood are the only specifications of worth and value — and start walking with confidence in our own dignity as women.  We are not mere sex objects.  Our strength is not in our ability to manipulate or control another, including the opposite gender.  Our strength is in our singularity as women — not as women who haven’t recognized their own worth and thus are in the awkward state of trying to function as a man when they are a woman.

The diversity of the two genders is what makes them both uniquely special and independent from each other. 

As women, let’s embrace our womanhood and femininity, stop believing the lies, and walk with dignity because we are distinctly women!

Are We Raising A Generation Of Heroes Or A Generation Of Villains?

 

Little Warrior 2

(FreeImages.com/DanColcer)

This morning, I read a recent article about another first-grader being suspended from school.  The 7-year-old boy was suspended because he pretended to launch a grenade while playing during recess.  Within the past two months, I have read about half a dozen reported cases of first-graders being suspended for similar play.

In response to recent tragic circumstances, our society is over-reacting and in the process creating an injustice — especially to young boys.

In the early elementary years, children are developing their ideas of what heroes are and enjoy imitating those concepts of heroes.  Most imaginative play, involving imaginary weapons, is a boy’s way of practicing and imagining what it means to be a hero — to be willing to protect and defend.  They are rehearsing what it means to be courageous and to be willing to fight a good fight.

In our attempts at removing any signs of potential violence, we not only demoralize and humiliate these boys, but we have now called their “hero-play” bad and in the process “villainized” our boys.  Rather than associating them with the “good guys”, we are associating them as the “bad guy.”  That is a social injustice!

These boys are simply being boys. Boys are created with a desire to protect and to defend.  They are more aggressive in nature in order to be courageous enough to face dangers.  

Do we want to raise boys who grow up to fear facing evil?  If so, then we merely need to discourage their efforts to imagine heroes, demoralize their character, and denigrate their name.

Most of what these boys are imitating is similar to what our military does.  Do we accuse our military of being villains instead of heroes when they fight to defend and protect our freedoms?  My young son wants to be a police officer or to be in the military when he is older.  I believe both are worthy callings.  I just hope that some day, if I am called to give the ultimate sacrifice (my son’s life) in order to protect the freedoms of others, that my son is not considered a villain for sacrificing his life so that we can keep ours.

Having “Hero Days” in school is an appropriate proactive approach.  Schools are wise to invite many different types of modern-day heroes to visit their schools.  Today’s heroes are medical personnel, EMT’s, firefighters, police officers, military veterans, volunteers for service organizations, the Coast Guard, service animals, community volunteers who help clean highways, etc…  If we want our boys to identify with heroes, then we must provide them with positive examples of heroes.

There are boys who become violent, but it’s not because they played imaginary heroes. In fact, the boys who become violent are often the boys who were made to feel insignificant, helpless, weak, and “villainized” as the bad guy.

The boys who become violent are often boys who are raised in broken families, a missing positive role model (his father), and/or spend too much time playing the evil guy in video games.  Boys need to be raised to associate with the good guys — not the bad guys.  (A rule in our house is that my boys are never to imitate evil or the bad guy; I want them to associate with good.)

We empower the bad guys by weakening the good guys.  When we tell our boys that imaginary “hero-play” is bad, we are damaging their associations with good heroes and affiliating them with the bad guys.

Boys must be taught that chivalry is not extinct but is honorable.  Chivalry means protecting and honoring those whom we esteem.  It means treating others with esteem.

If we want to raise men who will defend the honor of others, then we must encourage them that protecting and defending is honorable.

So many women feel they have to be tough and be the protectors of their families.  Why is this?  It takes grit and courage to live life well, no matter the gender.  But are some of these women so “tough” because they don’t feel protected and don’t trust the men in their lives to defend their honor?

Boys can be taught discipline and courage through positive activities, such as wrestling and karate, that hone their defensive skills but also teach them how to honor their opponent and how to maintain self-control.

Boys who have the tendency to become the “villain” are often desperate and angry, wanting to be heard and to feel significant.  In seeking to find “significance”, they will take the road of the villain if they feel they can be better heard and recognized that way then by being the hero.

If we want a generation of heroes, then we must encourage our sons to associate with and emulate heroes, to be honorable, to be courageous, and to feel heard.

If we want a generation of men who are spineless, of weak character, and full of anger, then we must squash their heroic ambitions and treat them as imbeciles and crooks.

That’s a sure method to turn our boys from heroes into villains.

What If You Really Did Marry Prince Charming?

IMG_0990

My last blog I wrote was:

https://graceinthemoment.wordpress.com/2013/02/01/why-you-can-be-cinderella-even-without-a-prince-charming/

My focus was on being the “princess” and not waiting for Prince Charming to make your identity.  In other words, we don’t become a “princess” by marrying the perfect “Prince Charming.  We are princesses because we are daughters of the Heavenly King.  We are “princesses” when we allow our Heavenly King to transform our natures inwardly so that we become “princessy.”

Girl-friends, what if we are married to Prince Charming?  Really?  Yes, really!  What if Prince Charming is the man you married after-all?

Think about the fairy tale of Cinderella again.  In fairy tales, the story normally ends after the wedding, and “they lived happily ever after…”  If this story was real life, don’t you think a lot of women would have complained about Prince Charming?  After-all, didn’t his father dictate and plan his life for him?  Makes you question the guy’s backbone.  A redeeming quality was Prince Charming did seem to know a good thing when he saw it.  He also was willing to go to a lot of trouble to find the missing Cinderella.

In real life though Cinderella would have had the interfering father-in-law, the mean stepmother and stepsisters to still handle.  As a princess, Cinderella didn’t have a lot of say over where she went, what she did, and how she lived her life.  There are certain dictates of society for those who rule…

In some ways, I like the story of Beauty and the Beast better.  The story is probably the most applicable to some of us.  Belle meets the Beast, and he’s quite “beastly.”  Belle though is able to look beyond the gruff exterior to the tender heart within.  In the story, she falls in love with the Beast while he is still a beast.  Her kindness and love help with the softening of the Beast.  Yet, within his heart was a willingness and readiness to change.

Gaston was the handsome and popular dude who wanted Belle.  He was egotistical, controlling, self-centered, and cruel.  His outward appearance though made him charming with the girls of the town.  Even though Belle could have had Gaston if she wanted (he wanted her), she instead chose the Beast.   Belle saw past exterior personalities and appearances to the inner heart.

As wives, do we see past the gruff exteriors that our husbands may erect to protect themselves?  Do we see past the outward exteriors and personifications to the inner man?  Do we take time to truly get to know our men?  Do we seek to bring out the “prince” in our men — rather than relegating them to the status of  the despised or feared “beast”?

Grant it, some women are married to true “Beasts”– the “Gastons”.  If we are perfectly honest though, most of us aren’t married to “Gastons.”  We are married to normal guys who are sometimes a little “beastly” but when given the opportunity “transform” into true “princes” that totally out-shine the shallow “Gastons”.

The truth?  Girl-friends, the truth is that we do have a lot of influence over the men/husbands in our lives.  We can cut them down with our words, relegate them to the status of “beasts”, despise them because of our own shallow misconceptions, and as a result completely miss out on the transformation process!

The truth is that our husbands may not even need a transformation process.  It may be that we do.

Contentment isn’t a matter of circumstance or certain people.  It’s a matter of the heart.

The truth?  The truth is that a lot of — most of us — are married to Prince Charming!  We just haven’t learned to look into the hearts of our men or learned to act the “princess” part — to be the Belle who saw into the heart of the Beast.

It’s often not about how “princely” our husbands are.  It’s really more an issue of how we see them and treat them.  Anyone can be quite “beastly” when they are treated as such or seen as such.  It’s not even necessarily that they are even close to “beastly”.  They may be more “Prince Charming” then we realize, but we may be so busy lusting or longing after the “Gastons” or too busy complaining and finding fault to recognize how “princely” they are.  Our complaining or discontentment may be destroying our husbands’ desires to even attempt to be “princely” towards us or at the very least obstructing our perception of their actions.

In other words, our contentment is not based on our circumstances or the “Prince Charmings” in our lives.  Our contentment is a heart attitude.  It’s all about our perceptions.  No man can change the way we see/perceive life.

The question is whether we — you and I — will recognize that Prince Charming just may be the man we married after-all.

You see, it is possible to live happily ever after

Understanding The Species

[Since I am sitting on hold with a company, I figured now was a good time to attempt to blog.]

A few observations I have made in regards to boys and men I thought I would share.  This might be helpful to those who are currently mothering boys or for those who have or at some point will be working with boys.  I am not an expert, but as a mother of three sons, I have definitely learned a few things.

I believe that boys are often misunderstood and unappreciated for the very traits that distinguish them from the female gender and are part of their nature.

I have observed that a father can read 1,000 books to his son, but love is communicated and understood in a greater capacity between a father and son when sharing something more physical together.  For example, a simple wrestling or tussle on the floor will speak greater volumes of love to a son.  It can be fishing together, building forts together, or even working together, but sons need that physical interaction with their fathers.

Show me a son/man lacking confidence and leadership, and I will describe to you a home lacking in love and positive interaction.  Love builds confidence and courage.  It takes courage to properly lead.

A mother is needed for her love and praise, but a son ultimately needs the affirmation and investment of a father.  A mother can’t replace that.  It’s not to say that God can’t heal and help where a proper father-figure is lacking.  He certainly can!  Yet, this lack will require God’s healing and help.  Healing speaks of pain, injury, and sorrow.

Mothers sometimes misunderstand a son’s need for exercise and competition as a negative issue.  Our schools often misdiagnose active boys as ADHD and prescribe medication.  Sometimes, this is an accurate diagnosis, but often the problem is not with the boy.  It is with the system.  We tell boys that they need to be like girls in essence: sit still for long periods, be quiet, be compliant and complacent. (Obedience is definitely unarguably important and must be taught to sons as well as daughters.  This is not the issue I am describing.)

Boys do need to curb their actions at times and learn self-control.  Yet, it is necessary for a boy to have the opportunity to run, explore, and practice his leadership skills in play.

Show me a leader and CEO of a company, and I will tell you that he was not a boy who mostly sat in a corner reading books or coloring.  Natural leaders are those who know how to be heard, who know how to conquer, who know how to challenge, who know how to explore.  The best leaders also know how to win and keep the respect of those whom they lead.

In order to have strong men, you need strong boys.  This does  not have to do with meanness.  There is also the error of thinking that masculinity means meanness, or that strength is demonstrated through unkindness.  It’s not “just being boys” in that case; it’s being sinners.

As a mom, I want to differentiate between fallacies of thinking that my boys can be mean and cruel to be men or that my boys are misbehaving when they are making more noise than frail nerves can handle.  I can teach my boys to be thoughtful and to learn self-control, but I need to also give them the freedom to develop into true specimens of masculinity — not my feminine version.

The very qualities that wives often complain that their husbands don’t demonstrate enough are often the very qualities that they discourage in their sons.  I am referring to husbands who don’t take spiritual leadership and who haven’t established a good relationship with their sons.  I am talking about husbands who don’t take responsibility or have a good work ethic.  That’s why we have Hallmark cards that poke fun at the “couch potato” dads and husbands.  Yet, if we raise our sons to be fearful, too dependent upon ourselves to meet their needs or force them to meet deadlines, have we not encouraged these very deficiencies?  If we discourage boys from exploring and exercising their physical muscles through play, are we not encouraging such weaknesses?  If we compliment quiet boys over boys that aren’t afraid to voice their own thoughts and opinions (within reasonable and respectful guidelines) have we not taught our  men that we prefer for them to be quiet and to keep their opinions to themselves?

I say let the boys be boys — not bullies — but boys!  Train them to excel, to serve, to explore, to exercise, to create, to dream, to learn.  I want to raise men — men of character, men of moral fiber, men of strength, men of courage, men of responsibility, men of faith!  Lord, so help me — help me to be the wise mother who leans on You and looks to You to raise true men.