Saturday, September 25, 2010
The Heart of a Woman
Friday nights are our time of praise/prayer or a message in Los Anonos and I was asked to speak this week. What has really been on my mind lately is how we talk to each other. I see the young guys in this community rip on each other all the time, calling each other names, teasing each other. Not only do they do it to each other, but also to the girls in the community. Their words are so powerful and they don't even know it. Their words can cut someone down faster than a knife and I am seeing the effects of those words on the girls here (when they come to the door crying because their friend called them fat, stupid, that everything is their fault). The following is what I spoke on (translated into Spanish). It is predominantly excerpts from one of my favorite books, "Captivating", by John and Stasi Eldredge concisely woven together with a few of my own thoughts and some scripture to speak what has been on my heart for this community:
Rather than asking, “What should a woman do—what is her role?” it would be far more helpful to ask, “What is a woman—what is her design?” and “Why did God place woman in our midst?” We must go back to the beginnings, to the story of Eve. Even though we might have heard the story before, (We have told it many times) it bears repeating. We clearly haven’t learned its lessons—for if we had, men would treat women much, much differently, and women would view themselves in a far better light. Eve was created as the crown jewel of creation. A perfect match for man. A completion of love and beauty. But in the garden, Eve was told a lie. That she was not complete and lacking something, lacking being like God. And when man left the garden, this lie continued in the heart of woman, that she is not complete and is lacking something, and it makes our hearts ache.
We need not be ashamed that our hearts ache; that we need and thirst and hunger for much more. All out hearts ache. All of our hearts are at some level unsatisfied and longing. It is our insatiable need for more that drives us to our God. What we need to see is that all the controlling and our hiding, all our indulging, actually serve to separate us from our hearts. We lose touch with those longings that make us women. And the substitutes never, ever resolve the deeper issue of our souls.
Every woman knows now that she is not what she was meant to be. And she fears that soon it will be known—if it hasn’t already been discovered-and that she will be abandoned. Left alone to die a death of the heart. That is a woman’s worst fear—abandonment. Rather than turning back to God, reversing the posture that brought our crisis in the first place (which Eve set in motion and we have repeated and repeated). We continue down that path by doing what we can to secure ourselves in a dangerous and unpredictable world.
And down in the depths of our hearts our Question remains. Unanswered, or rather it remains answered in the way it was answered so badly in our youth, “Am I lovely? Do you see me? Do you want to see me? Are you captivated by what you find in me?“ We live haunted by that question, yet unaware that it still needs an answer.
When we were young, we knew nothing about Eve and what she did and how it affected us all. We do not first bring out heart’s question to God, and too often, before we can, we are given answers in a very painful way. Other people answer this question instead of God. We are wounded into believing horrid things about ourselves. And so every woman comes into the world set up for a terrible heart break.
The way women see themselves was shaped early in life, in the years as a little girl. We learned what it meant to be feminine-and if we were feminine—while we were still young. Women learn from their mothers what it means to be a woman and from their fathers the value that a woman has—the value they have as a woman. But we live in a broken world, with broken people. We say things to each other.
Words are said, painful words. Things are done, awful things. And they shaped us. Something inside of us shifted. We embraced the messages of our wounds. We accepted a twisted view of ourselves. And from that we chose a way of relating to our world. The words that men say to women have great power and affect us. If a woman asks a man, instead of God, “Am I lovely, am I worth anything?” and he answers her, his words will be very powerful. His answer may begin to define who she is as a woman. But the wounds that we receive from these words don’t arrive alone. They carry messages with them, messages that that shake the depths of our hearts. Our wounds hit the center of our femininity. The damage that they produce in our feminine hearts, the wounds that we receive worsen over time into horrible things that we believe about ourselves as a result. If we feel made fun of, belittled, pitied, or abused, we believe that in one way or another we have done it to ourselves, the problem lies within us.
Words can damage and we should remember that with the same mouth we can chose to worship the Lord, yet with the same mouth have the capacity to destroy each other and our loved ones. We should take care, because even though the tongue is a small organ of the body, it can do much damage. And it has the capacity to destroy a person. At times we make fun of someone else to make ourselves feel better. James puts it this way in the third chapter:
5Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt[a] water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.