Friday, 10 January 2014

Guest Blog: Alisha Gabriel

 Alisha is studying for an MSc in Public Health at Oxford University and is a passionate pro-life campaigner

    The first thing that came into my mind when I thought about writing this was what a huge contrast there is between being a woman of God compared with being a woman of the world.  We are constantly bombarded by the media showing us how to be women of the world i.e. beautiful, rich, skinny, sexual, fashionable, successful and popular. But how can we strive to become women of God in our 21st century world?

    When I reflect on what it means to be a woman of God in the 21st century, I think about Proverbs 31. If you have ever read this passage you probably have had the same reaction as me…wow that is a tall order! Proverbs 31 was written by a queen mother to her son about the qualities and virtues of a Godly woman.  Although this passage was written many centuries ago, I actually think it is timeless and still very relevant to women in our society.

    My favorite verse is verse 30 – “Charm is deceitful and beauty empty; the woman who fears Yahweh is the one to praise.” My interpretation of this is that a woman of God should focus on her inner beauty, the beauty of her soul not her physical beauty. This can be very difficult because our society places so much emphasis on what you look like and not on what your soul looks like.

    St. Teresa of Avila is one of my favorite saints and her writings compare the inner beauty of the soul to “a castle made of a single diamond or of very clear crystal, in which there are many rooms, just as in Heaven there are many mansions.” As women of God, we must strive every day to beautify our interior castle for Christ. It is through prayer and contemplation that we journey through the many rooms to ultimately find the beautiful and unconditional love of Yahweh.

    Even during the time of St. Teresa (16th century) women were focused on external beauty – “All our interest is centred in the rough setting of the diamond, and in the outer wall of the castle -- that is to say, in these bodies of ours.” A woman of God in the 21st  century knows that real beauty is not the product of hair, makeup and clothes, but is the outshining of the indwelling Christ in our souls. How amazing is that? Lets get to work on our inner castles ladies!

    “When she opens her mouth, she does so wisely; on her tongue is kindly instruction” Proverbs 30:26. This is my least favorite verse because I find it the hardest. I am coined the social butterfly in my family because I absolutely love to socialize! One of my favorite activities is chatting with girlfriends over dinner and wine, which means I don’t always open my mouth only when I have something wise or nice to say. As women of God we should strive to avoid gossip and frivolous conversation (easier said than done!).

    Words are so powerful - depending on how we use them they can bring us closer or farther from becoming a Godly woman. In our society, the most popular news is gossip, which can make it difficult to relate to others without also gossiping.  Eleanor Roosevelt said; “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”

    We can also look to Our Lady who is a beautiful example of using her words wisely. In the bible Our Lady says very few things but instead she “treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). The words we use indicate what is in our hearts. If our hearts are hard and not filled with the love of Jesus then our words will be harsh. I think being a woman of God means that we strive to use our words to uplift those who are suffering, to encourage those who are discouraged, to love those who feel unloved and to inspire those who are hopeless. As women of the Lord, let’s be countercultural and trade gossip for kind, wise words that show the love of Jesus in our hearts.

    I have only covered 2 verses out of a possible 31 verses about how to be a Godly woman, but just these two verses feel like enough for me to work on for the next 15 years! It is easy to feel bad about how we don’t measure up when it comes to being a Proverbs 31 woman. But take comfort in the fact that you are first and foremost a child of God whose love for you is unconditional. No matter how many times we fail at being a Godly women, Jesus is still there waiting to love us and walk with us. He made us in his image and likeness and he doesn’t make mistakes!

“You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are your works!”
- Psalm 139:13-14

My prayers go out to all of the wonderful and beautiful women who are striving to be Godly in the 21st century….its not an easy task but with God anything is possible!

Alisha xx

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