Whatsoever Magazine

Archive for the ‘Femininity’ Category

We’re girls. We have hearts. And they tend to beat to a pretty romantic, dreamy, emotional rhythm. But that’s okay, because that’s just how girls are, right?

But what if our hearts steer us wrong? Could they steer us wrong?

Suzanne Hadley reminds us that the heart is deceitful above all things. There’s only one true guidepost to follow.

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A friend recently shared a quote from C.T. Studd, a cricketer who turned missionary in the late 1800s. He wrote to tell his mother about the girl he would soon marry:

I suppose you want to know about her. Well, to tell you the truth, I can’t tell you much except about her spiritual life and her life before the world; I don’t even know her age . . . As regards her face, well, she has the beauty of the Lord her God upon her, which is worth more than all the beauty of the whole world.

Such a recommendation is truly precious.

Michael Lawrence has posted a follow-up article to his introductory look at physical attraction and how it should influence a Christian’s choice of a marriage partner. I’m Just Not Attracted to Her Part II looks at how our perception of beauty is largely a result of our culture’s influence. Christians are often called to be counter-cultural; how does this work out in relation to what we think is beautiful?

Again, although this article is written primarily for a male audience, women will find much to digest and ponder. Of particular relevance is a look at the characteristics which constitute true beauty. Check it out!

Christian women all over the planet often lament that it’s hard to understand what makes a woman truly beautiful when the world screams out its own bizarre and, for the most part, unattainable standard of beauty. It’s even harder to break through the confusion when the church itself, and Christian men who populate it, help push theories of worldly beauty along. It’s easy to wonder: Am I stupid for desiring a husband who will value true inner beauty?

This week on Boundless, Michael Lawrence addresses the belief that men can’t help what they find beautiful. It’s a natural instinct. But is it really? And should it be? I’m Just Not Attracted to Her is written to men, but women will definitely benefit and be encouraged by this God-centred take on beauty.

It is a lovely rainy day here, the first real rain of this season in our dry part of the world. The pot belly stove is crackling away and as I stood, a moment ago, toasting myself in its heat and watching the rain beating the pavers outside, I began to reflect upon the seasons of life.
Right now my season is to be very happily married (what a blessing a godly marriage is, and so full of joy!), and the mother of two little girls. My husband Gregory is a farmer, and raises sheep and sows wheat, barley, and oats most years. We both love the farming lifestyle and the freedom it gives, where need be, to put family first. Our oldest daughter is 18 months old and a bouncing, bubbling, sensitive but strong-willed little toddler–a handful, like I was, probably! Our baby girl is a gurgling three months old at present, just venturing forth with sweet little smiles and coos–all her special ones saved for her big sister. The adoration in baby’s eyes when she gazes lovingly at her sister has to be seen to be believed! I never knew a baby of that age could distinguish between peers and adults to that extent but I’m learning fast.

I just love being a wife and mother! What a wonderful season of life it is! So new and fresh when one is starting out at my stage (we’ve been married two and a half years now), with so much to learn. Each day is a new adventure in learning, bringing its frustrations and devastations (like the first time my toddler threw a tantrum and bit me! “Oh no! How could I have a child who does that?!?” Forgetting, of course, that all my children are going to be sinners, right from the start, and I have to teach them otherwise) and its moments of elation (like the first time we put our first baby in her car seat and went for a drive!)… It’s an exciting time of life, but it is also weighed down with what seems, to me, to be huge responsibility. Not only am I a wife, but I am a mother now, a model to my two little girls who are growing up so quickly. It’s a time of life in which I find myself very busy with day-to-day activities, without much time left over for outside interests like those I pursued when I was still single.

The Lord did not bring Gregory and I together until I was 23 years old–which meant I had some time as an adult to spend as a single woman in service to the Lord. I was still living at home and delighting in my role as daughter and sister, but I had a lot of spare time to invest in many activities. I had chronic fatigue syndrome, so these activities (compared to those of some girls) were curtailed by my ill health, and not able to be very physically demanding. Nevertheless, I read profusely, either books, or articles on many godly topics researched and gathered from the vast expanse of the internet. I had some small resources which, not being needed for shopping for groceries, I was free to invest in “wisdom” in the form of books for my own shelves or other people’s. I had time to write at length to other girls, to talk on the phone to them, and invest in their lives. Most of the Christian girls I knew were younger than me, and I found real joy in being a blessing to them. I was very aware that I was an older example and the Lord constantly challenged me to be a godly witness for Him. Just before I met Gregory, the Lord led me to distribute the Home School Digest in Australia in order for other homeschooling families to have access to its wealth of encouragement and teaching.

By the end of those single years, the Lord had brought me to a place of wonderful contentment and peace and joy in serving Him as a single young woman–He was truly my delight and my heart was so full of devotion to Him that I wasn’t concerned for the future at all, whether or not I should eventually marry. I felt God’s leading and blessing in the here and now, and my heart was fully focussed on serving and pleasing the Lord.

Then, of course, I met Gregory and in a very short period of time we were serving the Lord together, which has been another kind of joy again! But something I observed after our betrothal, when we began to spend time together and our hearts were growing closer, was that I suddenly had less time to be wholeheartedly focussed on the Lord. In fact, at one point I was distressed about the love I had for Gregory, as it grew so strong I was afraid I was abandoning my “first love” for the Lord and things would never be the same between us again! I had to learn, slowly, that God gave me both my husband and my love for Gregory, and that He has blessed that love, and “it is good” in His eyes. But things were different: I was moving into a different time of life and I was no longer single, unattached to all but the Lord Himself. The Lord had given me an earthly bridegroom and I would now be attached to my earthly husband as well as my heavenly One. The seasons were changing.

The Lord tells us in 1 Corinthians chapter 7, There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world–how she may please her husband. And I say this for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction. A wonderful godly husband is here described as a distraction! A good one? Of course! A very important, wonderful, purposeful distraction, with whom you should be a beautiful example of Christ and the Church, His bride, a witness to the whole world, raising up godly seed which is so precious to God. This is good! But Paul definitely touched on a very real point when he described the marriage relationship, and all the responsibility it entails, as a distraction from 100% consecrated service to the Lord.

How I would like to see all young unmarried women receive their season of youth and singleness as a very special gift from God. The seasons pass, quickly or slowly, and most young women who are waiting for the gift of marriage have no idea when the season of singleness will end (and possibly the season of marriage begin). They can only seek to earnestly redeem the time where they are right now, and I would encourage them not to waste a minute of it! Though they will still feel the weight of duties God has laid upon them, yet for the most part a single girl’s time is still her own in a way that a married woman’s is not. How much a single girl can accomplish in this time–for her family, for herself in edification and time spent with the Lord–and even in ministry to others.

As the years have gone by, I have seen many of the younger girls with whom I shared and talked while single myself, grow up into wonderful godly young women. They are now moving into the season of life where they are single and “without distraction”, where they can fulfill 1 Corinthians 7 in being wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord. In my season of life right now it is a joy to me to be on the receiving end in my relationships with younger single girls. In the rush and busyness of young motherhood I suddenly have no more time to research godly books as I used to, no time to help out other families, to write long encouraging letters, or spend much time talking on the phone. But when I catch up with these friends, how much they have to offer me out of the wealth of their time spent in quietness and unrushed meditation on the Lord; how refreshing it is to hear their deep and penetrating insights borne of long periods of reflection, of contemplating on God’s will in their lives. What a blessing this is to me! I hear the Spirit’s voice speaking through them; I am challenged and encouraged and uplifted by them; I am blessed to tears to see the Lord working in them, changing them and making them more like Himself. What a blessing these young women are to me! The Scripture admonishes the older women to teach the younger, but nowhere does it say the younger cannot bless the older. Young single women can impart blessing into the lives of younger girls than themselves, but they can also bless and encourage older women in wonderful ways–practical as well as spiritual.

Well, I’ve been here awhile! The rain has stopped and the fire has burned low; it is getting chilly. I must put more wood on before I get my little girl up from her neck and check on the baby’s breathing–just to see it’s still deep, even, and sleepy! But I will take with me the encouragement I received from my younger friends this week, my mind mentally filing the titles of good books to buy for my girls one day, or for myself now, and reflecting as I work upon the spiritual insights that have been shared with me recently by those single young women. That the young unmarried women should care about the things of the Lord is my challenge to younger women today: be holy, both in body and spirit, and care only about the things of your Saviour while this season lasts. It is not forever! Even if you do not ever get married, this time of youth and energy and enthusiasm for God is limited and thereby precious. Dear young women–please don’t waste it! And thank you to those girls who have blessed me. I look forward to seeing grow, together, through all the seasons of life.

By Bethany McC.
[originally published in Volume 5 #1 of Whatsoever Magazine]

Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.

WHAT does it mean to be a virtuous woman? What is virtue? These are the questions I asked myself embarking on the study of this topic. Virtue… To me, it’s always been one of those beautiful old-fashioned words rich with significance, an inspirational hanger-on from the days of chivalry, a code, a collection of principles. But when I sat down to really think through the subject of virtue, I found I could not give myself a complete definition of it. I did not know what virtue was, specifically, nor how it could be obtained. And so, with pen in hand, I set out to find the answers to my questions.

ONE of the first discoveries I made was that virtue is a rare word in the Bible. Strong’s Concordance claims that the word virtue itself [1] only appears seven times in the King James version. The adjective form of virtue, virtuous, appears just three times–and always in reference to woman. Does the Lord wants us as young women to learn about virtue? I think so!

HOW important is virtue, and its cultivation? 2 Peter 1:3 reveals that it is very important, that it is not cimply an elective in our walk of faith, but a calling. This passage says that God ‘hath called us to glory and virtue.’ And just a few verses later, in 2 Peter 1:5, Peter exhorts us to give all diligence to adding virtue to our faith. Can the strength of that exhortation be fully understood in just one reading? We are called to give all diligence, to give a lifetime, to give energy and devotion, to the cultivation of virtue. It follows the gift of faith as one of the major steps in our walk with God.

THE second discovery that emerged through my study was the original meaning of the Hebrew word for virtue [2]. The word is chayil [khah-yil] and literally means a force, whether or men, means, or resources. What then is Old Testament virtue, simply translated into a one-word definition? It is strength. Strength. Think of it. Matthew Henry takes this literal meaning and applies it to the verse we are studying, calling the virtuous woman a ‘woman of strength’. Doesn’t the title itself sound grand–and inspirational? Truly, to become a woman of strength is a noble and beautiful calling, a life’s work worthy of our unending diligence.

HOWEVER, it is easy to say one thing and to wish we could become that which we speak of, but, contrary to the popular opinion of those gathered round the birthday cake crying, “Make a wish! Make a wish!” nothing ever came of wishes. We cannot become women of strength simply by hoping to be so. Hopes are nothing if they do not lead somewhere. But if we channel these hopes into wholehearted prayers and give them over to our Lord and King, then we are taking the first steps in our quest for virtue. The Word says that without Him we can do nothing, that every good and perfect gift is from above [3], and that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. It would be foolishness to think that we could become women of strength and virtue without Him. He is the ‘force’ behind true strength. We do not simply need His help to complete our quest for virtue. We need Him to do the work! Therefore, to become women of virtue, we must be grounded in Him.

THEN, trusting Him as the Source behind the force (do you think it’ll catch on?), we can fill our minds and hearts with all that virtuous womanhood contains. This means: making a study of virtuous women (Ruth is a beautiful example and is called ‘a virtuous woman’), looking carefully at the strengths of the Proverbs 31 woman, reading New and Old Testament references to virtue, seeing what the virtuous woman does not do (Proverbs is full of examples!), and having an open and accountable heart before our Father and our family. The family is a fertile field for the cultivation of virtue. Within such a compact unit we can find almost all we need to confront those flaws within us which hinder the growth of virtue and discover, too, the earthly rewards of obedience to Him that are just a tiny foreshadowing of all that awaits, in the finaly Home, those that are faithful cultivators of virtue here. Give all diligence to this task!

By Danielle Carey
Notes: [1] Thus translated from the Hebrew and Greek; there are other quotations of the same Hebrew or Greek root elsewhere in the Bible, but given a different translation; [2] Used in the Old Testament. Peter’s word, from the Greek, has a slightly different meaning; [3] James 1:17; [4] Philippians 4:13.
[originally published in Volume 6 #1/2 of Whatsoever Magazine]