Wednesday, October 20, 2010

She Laughs at the Days To Come

She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs at the days to come.
She opens her mouth in wisdom, and on her tongue is kindly counsel. Prov 31:26

Deep sigh as I read this verse.  So many women I know are clothed with strength and with dignity, open their mouths in wisdom, and upon their tongues rests kindly counsel.  Definitely not enough to make up for the dire shortage of such women in the world, however.

I'm sure the first thing to come to people's minds is "What about men?"  True, there are many shortages in the department of men.  But, as my refrigerator magnet quotes-"Be the change you wish to see in the world."  Ghandi so wisely pointed out that nothing changes if it doesn't begin with the self.  How you begin the journey is up to you and personal, but the desire and the openness needs to begin inside.

Clothed with strength and dignity...strength is a tough one for womanhood, isn't it?  We are fickle creatures filled with doubt and sadly a vast capacity for envy.  This combination is what leads us in fruitless circles trying to be the MOST beautiful, interesting, enviable, attended to, etc. etc.  We do things to hurt other women in order to feed this hunger.  Stealing a mate from another woman, for instance.  If that woman happens to be beautiful, interesting, entertaining, etc...then SO much the better!  This proves that one is even more so-doesn't it?!?!

Sadly, it does not.  It does prove that one is a desperate, pathetic, sad little creature who is weak.  Quite the opposite, in fact, of being clothed with strength.

Which brings us to the latter trait of good character, dignity.  Oh the shamelessness that abounds and is even celebrated.  One could say "nowadays," but it is not so-it has always been.  Although, it's become so much worse.  I remember what it felt like to be cast aside as a teenager by a boy who had previously been so interested in me for another who-well-someone who would meet his physical needs.  This has happened to most women, perhaps at a different age or in a different context.  Another female who is willing to trade or degrade herself for attention somehow manages to get the attention of someone who should be able to see you for the miraculous creation you are, the treasure worth seeking.  But, no.  He does not want to seek any hidden matter how worthy the jewels are.  He'd rather pick up the plastic shiny thing right at his feet than do anything more challenging.  The sad thing is that he is unaware of what he is missing and thinks he's made the most fulfilling choice.

There are also men who  really want to find a woman who will bring them to the next level-make them a better version of themselves and bring them closer to God.  These men very quickly recognize a woman with dignity and as soon as they find her, they snag her for themselves.  It might not be the easiest thing in the world for them to do so, but they do it, and they never regret it.

How does a woman "laugh at the days to come"?  No, it's not foolish laughter, I'm sure.  It's the laughter that comes with knowing.  The knowledge that you have withstood what would have taken down so many others, the knowledge that you have not sold yourself out for selfish and maybe desperate reasons.  The knowledge that God is faithful and perfect-this specific knowledge can eradicate so much of the doubt and anger that pushes us to make decisions that eat away at our beauty, like rust.  When we don't know why something happened, or when something we want to happen will happen, or why someone we know/trust has failed, or why we fail ourselves-that is the time to take shelter in the knowledge that God is perfect in His faithfulness.  Nobody else is, but He is...and resting in that will bring laughter and confidence about what is to come, even if that laughter is mixed with tears.

If only I could open my mouth in wisdom more often...sometimes I know it's not so.  I give it a shot, though.  I really do.  Sure, I can complain with the best of them and for those who've been in a car with me during a frustrating drive, they know that I most certainly do not always open my mouth in wisdom...but, I intend to.  Through years of practicing this one, I have learned that being quiet is many times more effective than speaking.  If someone is trying to take from you and you remain quiet, you're not giving them anything.  Even better, if there are witnesses-it makes that person seem witless.  If I have brought something up at least once or twice and am against a wall, I  don't give up-but I do stop speaking to the person about it.  I take it up with God.  Some new insight will always come of those conversations along with much needed patience.

Before we speak, it's so important to think first about WHERE these thoughts/ideas originate.  We need to take ownership of every single thought that flies through our brains.  Destructive thoughts lead us on a path away from creation and away from life.  They lead us to death-we die to who we are and to our reason for being born.  Take hold of your thoughts and reject what destroys your well being and your capacity for love-love for yourself, love for others, and most importantly-ability to receive love from God.  Without being able to receive, you will run out of love the way a car runs out of gas.  God's love comes directly and indirectly, through him and through others.  Keeping your thoughts true will color what you say and how you say it.

Kindly counsel, giving words that are a balm over a wound, is a tricky practice.  In yogic teaching, there are the life principles called Yama and Niyamas.  The first two Yamas are Non-Violence (Ahimsa) and Truthfulness (Satya).  One of the most interesting classes I took while studying to become a yoga teacher involved a discussion of how one could practice both at once.  Sometimes telling the truth causes pain to another.  So, should a person avoid the truth in order to practice non-violence?  I have struggled with this myself.  For me, the answer I have found is that it's very much in the timing and in the receptiveness of the receiver.  If there is something possibly painful to discuss and you have been asked for advice (receptiveness), proceed with prayer.  Ask God to make that person's heart soft, and then wait.  The time for the needed message will arrive and it will likely be very obvious to you that the time is right.  If it's not asked for and it's someone you need to speak with, again-begin with prayer, then wait.

There is not enough truth telling amongst friendships between women.  We don't want to aggravate a situation or possibly lose a friend.  It's not helpful in the long term, however to try to distract a person from what is happening.  If you have no prompt towards helping with kind words of wisdom, don't say anything.  Let it lie where it is.  I have been hurt and know so many others who have been hurt when someone who means well gives unsolicited advice too rashly or else compares it to themselves.  This makes a person feel as if you're judging and comparing, and in that comparison, have decided that you are clearly superior for having done it better.

I know that women aren't out in the world deliberately trying to cause all the drama we do.  Most women, anyhow.  It's the result of damage, of confusion, of sadness-really, too much of anything negative weakens us.  But, we can be an example that disproves the image of happiness sold by film/magazines/our own selves.  If we move through this world in grace and dignity, if we speak wisely, and if (most importantly) we do this out of love it will send out a tiny, perfect, and powerful ripple into our world.

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