#Write31Days – Post 24 – I am Woman

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“I immediately prepared to deliver my ‘She’s allowed to use this park just as much as you guys’ speech,” Thomas wrote in a letter to the boy posted on Twitter after the encounter.  Instead, the boy told Peyton, “Your feet are wrong.  Can I help you?”

I came across a story yesterday on the internet.  A little girl had always wanted to learn to skateboard, but worried she couldn’t because it was a “boy’s sport”.  Her mother wanted to instill confidence in her daughter, and encouraged her to try anyway.  Skateboard in hand they walked into the local skatepark.  Her daughter struggled, as teen boys whizzed by.  Suddenly one of the teens approached her daughter.  The mother anticipated that he was going to chide her for even being there.  Instead, on bent knee he began to help the little girl, spending over an hour encouraging her and sharing his experience with her.

When I first read the story, I was just really impressed by the young man’s willingness to help.  As a mother of three girls, I am always encouraged when I read accounts of the fine young men who still exist in this world.  It is an affirmation that moms and dads are out there raising amazing young men.  When my sixteen year old came into the room, I decided to read the story to her because I thought it was cute.

I started to cry, almost from the beginning.  She thought I lost my mind, it was a cute story.  I couldn’t even get through some of the sentences without stumbling over words and blubbering.  Later we were talking about it and she asked why I was crying.

This is why:  I was that little girl, well over twenty years ago.    I remember being an oddity, and I honestly thought this mindset was something that changed long ago.  We have female skaters who are featured in magazines and skate competitions.  How in the world could a mom today walk into the skate park concerned that her daughter wouldn’t be accepted??

I remember being at a skatepark in 1996, I was a teenager and actually pretty good.  This was a new course for me, and I wasn’t familiar with all the of quirks of it.  I was there with my boyfriend at the time and a crew of six other guys.  We had a few runs in, and since I wasn’t exactly inexperienced I decided to try something new.  I wiped out, hard.  Really, really hard.

I started to cry, not heaping sobs, but just a response to the pain I was experiencing.  This wasn’t a common response for me, I nearly broke my hip once and still kept on skating without the bat of an eye.  So clearly, I was in serious pain.  My boyfriend skated by, glancing down briefly, and chided “skaters don’t cry” and kept on his way.  Perhaps he was trying to toughen me up, I don’t know.  It was the six other guys from the crew that came over, helped me up, and made sure I was ok.  They also gave him a stern ribbing for being such a jerk.

I was so embarrassed over crying, I did my best to let it roll of my back and move on with the day.  Into the evening, I was still hurting.  It would take a few days for me to fully recover. 

Now I look back on that time, and I wonder WHY.  Why did I think it wasn’t ok to cry?  Maybe skaters don’t cry, but I was a girl and I was hurt.  I responded in a perfectly normal way and hated myself for it.  When we bought into feminism, we bought into this idea that not only could women do everything that men could do… but that we would share their response.  If they could take a licking and not cry, so could we.  In toughing ourselves we were suppressing the very thing that made us women.

When God created man and woman, they were created equal.  They were also created differently.  Our approach to the same task will be different, our response to adversity will be different.  A difference in response doesn’t negate our ability to do the job or complete the task.  There will be things that come more naturally to men, but this doesn’t mean women can’t learn those same things.  There are some roles that come more naturally to women, but it doesn’t mean that men can’t learn to fulfill those same roles.

As women we need to be confident in our role as women, instead of putting barriers in what we can or can’t do because of gender…. I’d rather embrace that whatever I do, I will do it as a woman with her God given sensibilities.  I will learn, like a woman.  I will love, like a woman.  I will lead, like a woman.  I will worship God, like a woman.  I will read with a woman’s perspective.  I will write from a woman’s experience.   I can be wise, like a woman.  I can also be strong, like a woman.

And in those moments when I begin to question if I am strong enough…  or if I am being too strong.  I will cry, like a woman.

And some days…. I will laugh, like a woman.

I may have cried at the skatepark… but we all cry sometimes….

#Write31Days Challenge – Post 22 – Discerning Spirit

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Making decisions can be quite difficult.  Some decisions are part of our daily lives, such as deciding how to spend our finances.  Other decisions come alone sporadically.  They are big ticket decisions like moving, going back to school, or changing vocations.  There are also decisions that come along that are eternal, like should I follow Jesus or not.

In order to make the right decisions, we must have discernment.  There are those whom the Lord has given the spiritual gift of discernment.  They have a natural ability to determine the best course of action in any situation.  They have a “God’s eye view” in their perspective of life, for themselves and for others.  Then there are those who do not have this natural gift, yet wisdom and discernment is still an expectation for believers.  We are called to be wise and discerning in all areas of life.

We are to be discerning in our daily encounters.  For example, it is discernment that helps us to become good stewards of our finances.  It is discernment that helps us decide if our child can spend the night at a particular friend’s home.  It is discernment that causes the knot in the pit of your stomach, which causes you to lock your car doors and go a different direction.  We can asses the situations around us and use that inner voice (gut instinct) to determine if something is right, wrong… safe, or dangerous.

We are to be discerning in the large decisions that we make too, especially since they often to do not impact only our own selves.  Making a choice to move will impact your spouse, your kids, and any commitments you have made that would have to be foregone.  Going back to school requires discernment because it not only impacts people, but also your finances.   It is important in these decisions that we are not only seeking God’s direction, but making sure we look at the big picture so that we understand what the impact is going to be.

We are also called to be discerning in our spiritual life because there are false teachers, false prophets out there that the scriptures have warned us about.  We need to know how to identify them, through discernment, in order to avoid them.

So… if you are not gifted with discernment, how do you GET discernment.

Discernment is rooted in wisdom, wisdom is rooted in knowing the Lord, and we know the Lord through His Word.

If you are not naturally gifted in discernment, you must begin an intentional process of studying the Lord’s Word to increase your knowledge.  This knowledge will ensure that you have a grasp on the character of God, knowledge of his statutes and the scriptures, so that you may test teachers/leaders/prophets to His word.   Through knowledge you will gain wisdom, as you begin to see how the Lord conducts himself in the various scenarios that play out in the scriptures.  Essentially, what would Jesus do?

With knowledge from study, wisdom through application, and then adding in the third piece which is prayer… we can begin develop discernment.

We pray for the Lord to give us knowledge, wisdom, and discernment.  We want Him to help us in this process, so that while we are still learning, we have the Holy Spirit working on our behalf.  There will never become a time where we can fully understand the will of God, all the mysteries of the scriptures, on our own this side of Heaven.  We must have the Holy Spirit working in us to do so, but knowing that doesn’t absolve us from the responsibility of seeking His wisdom and knowledge.  We can count on the Holy Spirit to help & guide us, but we are still called to have a spirit of discernment within us.

To be discerning, we must start at the beginning.  Know the Word, to know what isn’t.

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,     – Philippians 1:9-10

 

 

 

Letting Go – Is it that easy?

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I think we have all been in that place where we are struggling with something, and a good willed person says:

“You are just going to have to let it go.”

They make it sound so easy, as if we could just flip a switch in our minds. 

But, is it really that easy?  Of course not!  And if the table were turned, and we offered that advice to that same person… we might be met with a dagger eyed stare.   Letting go, isn’t that easy.   It never has been.

I can recall teaching my toddlers how to walk, their little fingers tightly gripped around my own.  They are totally walking on their own, they don’t need to hold on to me, but they are afraid to let go.  No matter how much we try to tell them to “just let go”, or even slip our fingers out of their grasp, they clench their grip tighter.

The reason why letting go is so hard, is because we’ve been holding on for so long.

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We hold onto friendships, even unhealthy ones, because we have been in each others lives for so long … we can’t imagine a day where we could just stop caring.  We can’t imagine a day without them in our life, imperfections and all.

We hold onto memories of past relationships, even bad ones, because we were intertwined in each others lives for so long.  We were a team, taking on the world together.  How do you just walk away and never look back?

We mourn over deaths, sometimes indefinitely, because these were people who were integral in our lives.  We don’t want to forget them, so we hold on even tighter to their memory.

We hold on, out of fear, to our children as they grow up.  We are afraid we haven’t taught them enough, we are afraid they will make bad decisions, or that the world will wort them.  We hold on because we care too much to let go.

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Yes, there are times where we absolutely need to let go, no matter what it may cost us.

There are other times, where what we need isn’t to let go… but distance and patience.

And sometimes, we need to hold on… with everything we have.

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Continuing to hold on can be even more painful than letting go.

We must rely on God to give us discernment to know when it is appropriate to hold on, and when we really need to let go.  Then, we need to rely on God to help us in the process.  How long do we hold on for, and what actions and boundaries are to be in place?  If we are called to let go, then we need strength to do so without looking back and doubting if we made the right decision.

We must also examine our own hearts in the matter.

Am I unable to let go, because I hope for reconciliation?

That is a good thing.

Am I unable to let go, because I want evidence that I was right?

That’s a bit prideful.

Am I unable to let go, because I want to see them fail?

That’s sinful.

Am I holding on, because I feel like I can save them?

That’s pride.

Am I holding on, because I can’t live without them?

That’s idolizing.

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Letting go isn’t easy.  It is also not always the right thing to do.  We can’t always make these decisions on our own, we need wisdom of godly counsel of others and we need to be praying to God to direct our hearts.

WHEN SCANDAL IS EXPOSED

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Your grandmother’s pearl necklace is a treasured family heirloom.  You toddler looks at it every time she passes your dresser.  It hangs from a special stand, it calls at her… longing to be held.  Every time she asks you if she can wear it, you tell her no.  Or, not right now.  You know in your head this is a special gift you want to give her on her wedding day.  She doesn’t know or understand that at all, she just knows that she wants to touch it.  This curiosity carries on for years.

Mom, can I wear it?

No, not right now.

When?

When you are older.

Why?

I don’t want you to break it.

I promise, I won’t!

I am not taking the chance.

One day, you happen to be distracted in the garden.  You are preparing your spring plantings.  Opportunity has presented itself, this time temptation overwhelms.  She sneaks in to your room, climbs the chair next to your dresser, slides the necklace of it’s stand and around her sweet little neck.  She hears the front door open, fearing getting caught, she panics and attempts to take the necklace off, and return it to the stand.  It snags.  Pearls fly every where.

Enter mom.

You see the pearls strewn about the floor.  You are angry.

You look up & see her tear stained face, lips quivering.  She knows she was wrong.  She knows she is trouble.  But worst of all, she knows she broke your heart.  This necklace that meant so much to you, is in pieces… just like her spirit.

What do you do?  How do you respond?

Do you point in her face, exclaiming how you knew this is what would happen?  Do you take to facebook, twitter or your blog and brag about you just knew this would happen, that it was impossible for your child to control her self?  Or, do you scoop her up and love her first…. worrying about the pearls later?

How would you feel if you shared this story with your friends, and the next day you find hundreds of shared posts about how your daughter messed up, questioning your parenting for leaving her inside unsupervised, that they always knew you were a bad parent, had bad children, etc?

What if your daughter could see all of those comments hurled at you, about your family?

This is the scenario that runs through my head every time I see some sort of major scandal break the news.   Particularly when it is a high profile Christian, or Christian family.  Very quickly the masses weigh in:

I always knew there was something wrong with that family, they can’t be that perfect.

I knew there was something untrustworthy about him, I just couldn’t put my finger on it.

What a hypocrite, teaching his church one thing, while he lived another!

She had it coming, something about her just seemed off. 

No wonder her marriage failed, look how she treated him!

… and the list could go on forever.

In these comments, we are bragging about ourselves at the expense of someone’s deep pain.  And, even if “the guy” or “the girl” was wrong, totally, we ignore that they have a family (or church family) that is hurting too.

We don’t restrain our words, we just let them fly loosely, sticking where they land.  We don’t recognize that they are landing right in the lap of the woman who was cheated on, the church that was taken advantage of, the victims who have been trying to heal, and the children who have had their hero exposed to be a villain.

This isn’t a blog article to vindicate those who are guilty, to excuse their behavior.

It’s just a caution, that when a scandal breaks… before we do that victory dance, bragging about how right we are…

…. let’s not forget that someone is hurting in a way we can’t fathom.

Someone just had their world torn apart.

Someone just had an old wound ripped open.

Someone needs you to say, I am sorry this happened to you…

… more than they need to hear how right you were.

Someone, needs your prayers.