Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Guest Post: Miriam Jarvis

Miriam is an aspiring mental health nurse hoping to work in a Christian setting. She blogs at The Motions of Miriam

        To be a woman is described by the Oxford Dictionary ‘an adult human female.’ Simple I guess? According to the dictionary a woman is a human being who is biologically female and is able to bear offspring, and the word lady means to be a refined, polite woman who demonstrates “womanly” characteristics, such as meekness or timidity. The Bible Dictionary describes how the word "woman" is used to imply tenderness and courtesy and not disrespect. I wanted to look into the root of those words because I find myself struggling to grasp the true meaning of what it means to be a woman in a world that offers contradicting messages! It was then that I came across a quote by C.S. Lewis, who said: 

“If our religion is something objective then we must never avert our eyes from those elements in it which seem puzzling or repellent; for it will be precisely the puzzling or the repellent which conceals what we do not yet know and need to know.”

        Being a woman of God presents us with a firm truth about our identity. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be challenges, struggles, hurt or loss, but instead offers us comforting reassurance if we choose seek it.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:33-34)

        We learn that we belong to the creator of the universe and if He cares for even a mustard seed, then how could He turn his head from those He made in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1:27). Everyone has a responsibility and a place in this world which they have been created for and are therefore capable of carrying out. As people of God, we should set out to complete our God-given purpose with all of the strength and power we have been given to do so. As women we are often expected to be someone we are not because we live in fear of not being loved or accepted. 

        I decided to Google ‘the characteristics of a woman’ and a kind gentleman had listed 10 qualities of a ‘real’ woman

1.     A Real Woman Is Confident - happy with herself and her own abilities
2.      A Real Woman Is Honest And Upfront
3.      A Real Woman Has A Healthy Handle On Her Emotions - Knows that it’s okay to be down for that one week a month but has control over her emotions
4.      A Real Woman Is Strong And Independent - Her ability to be so strong is derived from her own knowledge, intuition and ambition
5.      A Real Woman Has Patience - able to use the proper resources to conquer any problem
6.      A Real Woman Shares The Right Amount Of Drama - Positive and negative
7.      A Real Woman Has A Defined Purpose - she has great goals and desires and with the right amount of inspiration and motivation anything is possible
8.      A Real Woman Is Secure - comfortable in her own skin.  Jealousy, doubt and fear go out the window because she is confident in herself and her choice in a partner – as well as her partners choice in her
9.      A Real Woman Is There - a strong link in the chain that holds those close to her together
10.   A Real Woman Values A Real Man - She appreciates and respects the value and worth of the men in her life.  She knows that part of being a great woman is recognizing and embracing the qualities of a great man.  She does not need a man in her life to be happy, but if she has one she stands by him.  She believes in his purpose and who he is.

        Of course we all know that everyone is unique and we all have different skills and attributes, but when we find ourselves drawn into worldly behaviours that almost want us to become ashamed of who we are and only see what we aren’t. Think about the amount of companies that make profit from our low self-worth! If we all began to see how invaluable we are then these companies that drive us into looking for flaws and imperfections, which are actually the very things that make us unique, would be forced to change their views or become nothing more than history. 

        We are so often unable to see our worth, but quick to see the worth of others – worth that was present during Creation, when God created woman to be a priceless gift to mankind. It is through reading about women in the Bible who have overcome weakness, struggles and powerful rulers – such as in the book of Esther – where we learn about how God used tem and their circumstances to carry out His divine plans. Through Esther we see how God uses women to create such a powerful impact, and are reminded of who we can be too if we learn to overcome the fears in our own minds. If we trust, obey, surrender and believe that God is always with us – no matter what our situation or circumstance may be – if we believe that we, as women, have been ‘chosen for just such a time as this’ (Esther 4:14) we can show the world what God can do, ‘for we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength’ (Philippians 4:13).

        In Titus 2:3-5 we are taught, as women of God, that we should live in such a way as to ensure that we don’t live against God or do evil things that the world wants us to do. Instead these teachings encourage us to be wise and live in the right what that shows that we serve God.

        Below are 10 ways in which the book of Titus teaches the women of God to live, along with how I think we can relate this to our lives now in the 21st Century. We are told to live a life where we are:

Holy in behaviour: Living a holy life in an unholy world
Not to speak against others: Speaking kindly in a graceless world
Not to fall into habit of drinking too much wine: Disciplining ourselves in a disorderly world
To be teachers of what is good: Modelling Godliness in an sinful world
To Love our husbands: Self-sacrificing in a selfish world
Love our children: Nurturing in a loveless world
Be wise and pure: Focusing on God and pursuing modesty in a foolish and immodest world
Good workers at home: Pursuing stewardship in a unfriendly world
To be kind: Showing kindness in a cruel world
To be obedient to our husbands: Pursuing obedience in a rebellious world

'What does it mean to you to be a woman of God in the 21st Century?'

        To be a woman of God in the 21st Century, for me, means to actively seek God first and to reject all other lies that modern culture tells me will satisfy my needs. It means to serve the Lord by setting an example to those around me that reveals God in all His glory. It means to live my life only to please Him. It means to be faithful in all of my ways but accepting that I am not perfect, but through Christ I learn. 

        It is to show love, boldness, kindness, wisdom, and courage that is purely God given. It is to be humble and aware of pride and selfishness. Finally to be a woman of God in the 21stCentury is to show true beauty by accepting who I am, knowing that although my flesh will fail me, my soul is what is important, therefore I should set my eyes only on what is eternal.

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