Tuesday, December 10, 2013

To Our Girls: Fear The Lord!

 Sometimes I'd give anything to be a guy.  While the male population have their share of pressures, in my opinion, they pale in comparison to the pressures women face.  There may be a few men who beg to differ, but in my lifetime I've never met a man who would actually prefer to be a woman.  They know better.  Women carry a heavy load of pressures, most impossible to carry.

I learned this early on in life.  I'll never forget a certain bus ride home in the 7th grade.  I was sitting with a guy friend of mine, having a conversation about looks.  Somehow, I can't remember how, we got to talking about me.  He said to me, "Renee, guys don't want to date you because you just don't have The Complete Package."  Regretfully, I sought explanation.  "You know," he says, "Boobs, Butt, Face, & Personality."  As if further clarification would help me understand he graciously clarified, "You're missing the boobs, butt, and face part of the package.  But you do have the personality."  

Wow.  Instantly in that moment, the pressures bore upon me.

While I now know this guy friend of mine was simply an immature, hormonal teenager with little on his mind than you know what. His words still cut like a knife, and they kept on cutting for years and years.

Sometimes I wished I'd had the nerve to give him a what for.  Cause if we were comparing packages, his was hardly up to par.  But the truth is, even if I had gotten my revenge and graciously told him what he was lacking, it didn't really matter for him.  Because the pressures to look and be a certain way weren't as heavy for him.

So I said nothing.  But I thought and felt everything.  
I wish I'd had the wisdom to talk to my mom about what he had said to me, cause I know she would have lovingly corrected his words with truth and perspective.  Instead I threw the pressures upon my back and carried them for years.  I still carry some of the pressures that birthed from that one fateful conversation.

For women and girls today, there is still the pressure of having this Complete Package.  Except that now there's more to the package:  We've still got the pressure of boobs, butt, and face.  We still need to have a fun-loving and "awesome" personality.  

But now we can't have wrinkles until we are 60.  Our abs should look like a washboard.  Our hair should be full and vivacious.  Our eyelashes long, our lips plump, our arms toned, our legs cellulite free, our teeth pearly white, and our dress trendy and fashionable.  Our homes need to look HGTV designed.  We need to prove our success with respected and promoted careers, all while maintaining a household and raising a bundle of kids.  We need to be strong and independent, while still being sweet and attentive to our men.  We must never need help or admit defeat.  We need to be everything to everyone all while maintaining a dignified grace and poise about ourselves.  

pressure. Pressure. PRESSURE!  It's no wonder we don't explode.

Here's the honest truth, back in 7th grade I didn't have The Complete Package.  I still don't.  And here's some more honest truth, as a 33 year old woman, wife, and mother...I don't have today's version of The Complete Package either.  And I never will.  

Why?  Because this "package" is completely and utterly impossible to attain.  It is rooted in a value system that is shallow and always changing.  I might meet one requirement one day, only to have it change the next.  Trying to attain this package is like trying to fly...every time I jump up to soar, I will fall flat on face.

So ladies, what on earth do we do with all these pressures?

And how do we help our daughters to get out from underneath them?

We've all tried to push them aside, only to have them push right back in.

We've all striven to satisfy these pressures, only to fail under the weight of their burden.

We've all attempted to redefine the "package," only to have society call our bluff and shove its package back down our throats.

There's no person, ideology, political party, or organization that will give us any relief or hope.  This Complete Package leaves us hopeless.

Why? Because the package is deeply and firmly rooted in one thing: Fear of manOur incessant desire to please man, to gain the approval of man, and to receive value from man is our greatest source of hopelessness.

It isn't until we fear God MORE than we do man that we find hope & the world's package will crumble, along with its pressures and unattainable expectations.  For when we fear God and our focus is to please and glorify Him then He repacks the package for us.  It is no longer wrapped in physical beauty and personal success, we are set free from the ever-changing worldly package that constantly haunts us. 

Loving and fearing God makes us long for a different package.  One that is full of God's love and acceptance of us as His children.

"Now if we are children (of Father God), then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." Romans 8:17

One full of His righteous expectations that are completely attainable in Christ Jesus.

"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Corinthians 5:21

And One full of His praise for who we are as His followers.

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." Proverbs 31:30

It is this last one that clinches our victory. 

Charm is deceptive because its motive is purely selfish.  Beauty is fleeting because with completely certainty it will wither and fade.  But a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised for she weaves wisdom into the fabric of her life.  And this wisdom ensures victory.

Her COMPLETE package:

She is first a lover of God. (v. 30)  

She has noble character that is rare, "worth far more than rubies." (v. 10)

She "sets about her work vigorously," and "doesn't eat the bread of idleness." (v. 17, 27)

She "opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy." (v. 20)

She "is clothed with strength and dignity." (v. 25)

She "speaks with wisdom" and "faithful instruction." (v. 26)

Her children "call her blessed." (v. 28)

Her husband "praises her." (v. 28)

Her "works bring her praise." (v. 31)

This Proverbs 31 woman cares little about her looks.  Her beauty illuminates from the inside, out.  She cares little about her accomplishments.  Her success is first and foremost in pleasing God and secondly, in caring for those around her.  She isn't praised for anything but her character.  

Once in awhile, I'll change out of my house hag and try to tidy myself up before Keith gets home.  I do like to look nice for my man.  But as pretty as I primp myself to look, as beautifully decorated and wrapped that I look on the outside, none of it will matter if I'm a selfish, grouch on the inside.  He could come home to a Victoria Secret Model, and still be repulsed if the inside of the package is filthy and haggard.  True beauty and real success is rooted in loving and pleasing God and allowing His beauty to seep out of us, like a glistening light, onto those who are part of our lives.  

So to me, to my Allie-girl, to all the women reading this today, and to your daughters, The Complete Package is loving and fearing God above all things.  This is what we should be striving for.  This holds precious value.  This is real beauty.  This is true success.

None of that other crap matters.  It's hogwash.  It's fickle.  It's shallow.  And it's like chasing after the wind.

Fear the Lord.

Let's pray.

I pray my daughter would get out from under the pressures this world puts upon women regarding looks and success.  May she have the wisdom to know that all the worlds pressures are hogwash and completely unattainable.  Their burden of pressure is heavy and impossible to carry, but You have set her free with the saving love of Jesus who loves her and makes her righteous before You.  

I pray she would stand strong in You.  I pray she would fear you above all things.  I pray she believes You when You say she has precious value.  I pray she would grow to understand how true beauty isn't measured from the outside, but from the inside.  May she weave the fabric of this wisdom into her life always:  "Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."  I pray she would know that true success is loving and fearing you in all things.  

May she fear You and praise You.  Repack The Package.  Set her free from the pressures of this world.  May she find hope, love, value, and acceptance in You and in You alone. 

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