Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Far More Than Rubies

I've always envied my mother's July birthday. My birthday is in August, and just like my mom did I got to have the fun of a summertime birthday- water balloon fights, outdoor parties, no school. What I envied was my mother's birthstone- the ruby. Don't get me wrong, the peridot is nice and green is my favorite color, but there's just something about the deep red color of a ruby that looks like passion to me.

Rubies are mentioned a total of four times in the book of Proverbs alone. In the first two, Proverbs 3:15 and 8:11, their worth is compared to that of wisdom, with wisdom being the clear winner. Similarly, Proverbs 20:15 says that "lips that speak knowledge" are rare; rubies are common by comparison. It is interesting then that Lemuel chooses the ruby as a comparison to "a wife of noble character" in Proverbs 31:10. As with wisdom, this noble woman comes out on top. In fact, wisdom itself is also called "she" throughout the book of Proverbs, and the Proverbs 31 woman embodies Solomon's teachings on wisdom in 3:15, 8:11, and 20:15. "She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue" (Proverbs 31:26).

I'm a Christian, and I make no apologies for it. When I make decisions my very first thought is what God would choose for me. But I also live in the world, and I have no intention of sticking my head in the ground and refusing to acknowledge the need to open my mind to the perspectives and life experiences of an infinite variety of people who may not share my worldview. There are some Christians who would tell you that to grow closer to God and strengthen your faith, you must reject all things secular, avoid the influence of the worldly culture around you and build yourself a comfortable Jesus box. That's not me. I've never experienced real spiritual or emotional growth without a fight, and I don't intend to start. I don't want to be a blind follower. Like Job, I want to ask the hard questions.

If I could, I spend all day reading, studying, writing, and talking about my thoughts and opinions, climbing an endless ladder to greater and greater knowledge. I am the classic career student. But that's not my life. My life revolves around practicalities. Someone has to make toast and take the kids to school, nurse the baby, coordinate doctors' appointments and t-ball schedules, wipe up the spills, and change the diapers. There's some hard stuff too. How do I know what elementary school is best for my kids and how can I balance academic growth, extracurricular sports and lessons, and quality family time to guard their emotional health and our familial relationships? My job is the manage the lives of five people, and it doesn't afford me much time to take a shower, let alone breathe, smell the roses, and build tomes full of eloquent wisdom. I am a woman, and I do a woman's job. Does that offend you? I don't mean that what I do couldn't or shouldn't be done by a man, or that women are wrong to reject homemaking and childcare in favor of career success and other pursuits. I mean that I do what millions and millions of women around the world do, did, want to do, or have to do. You don't have to be around long to notice that women are different from men, and I don't mean anatomically. For example, according to National Statistics Online, women spend nearly three hours a day on housework, excluding shopping and childcare, while men spend about one hour and forty minutes on average (Office for National Statistics, Jobs About the House, http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=288). Why? Opinions on the answer abound- men are lazy, women like things cleaner, etc., but where are the facts?

It comes down to this: If hormones and reproductive organs come together to make us women in our physical bodies, what is it that makes us women mentally, emotionally, and spiritually? Is there such a thing as authentic femininity, or is the image of what a woman is different for every woman? How does our gender effect our choices and perspectives? What can we learn from the Bible, but also, what can we learn from each other, from studies in sociology and anthropology, and from just talking to our neighbors?

I want this blog to go there, and hopefully deeper too. Certainly this blog will be personal, and my starting point will be my own struggles, thoughts, and encounters. But if you're reading this, share yours in the comments. It may be an assumption, but I've observed that we as women learn from each other by taking in the experiences of others and examining how they interact with our own. I don't know who will read this, and I don't know how often I'll be able to post. I don't even know where this will go from here. I know I don't want to be speaking into a darkened silence, but into a world full of perspectives. Join me for mine, and by all means, share yours.

Lets begin.

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