May 30, 2011

We've been reading through the book of Acts in the Liturgies of late. Acts - which chronicles the workings of the Apostles after the Resurrection, is full of miracles - annoyances, hardships, struggles, victories and love. I suppose you could say it's the story of life. It's how everyday, ordinary, mediocre people came to embrace and live out the Word of God. And I've been noticing how many stories there are about women.

This morning I turned to Acts 16:16, which tells the story of a slave girl possessed with the spirit of divination, who was making money for her master by her 'soothsaying'. For a couple of days she followed Paul and the brethren around calling out: "These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation."

Paul gets annoyed (which I find very amusing since she was proclaiming the truth), orders the spirit out of her, and it leaves within the hour, we're told.

BUT (and here's the interesting part) when this little slave girl's owners find out their girl isn't showing them the money anymore, they're furious and drag Paul and Silas before the rulers in the marketplace and start accusing them of all sorts of things...disturbing the peace...advocating customs which are not lawful for Romans...and of course, the crowd smells blood and joins in. Funny. They didn't accuse them of the truth which was they took away their livelihood - maybe because it was dishonest and unjust?

So as I reflected on this passage, I began to see the horror of just how far our motives can take us. There is a particular stereotype out there surrounding us females: that we tend to manipulate to get what we want. I'm not going to make a blanket statement and say that we all do it, but I will say that there is good reason why that stereotype exists. Even though in this particular example the offenders are men (because men are just as guilty of bowing to dishonest motives as women) women have a particular penchant of being able to twist and turn the truth to bring about a desired outcome. Maybe it's because our gifts tend to be centred around relationships with others and our faults are not far behind?

There are myriads of reasons why we manipulate and change our surroundings. They range from the mundane (I make myself a sandwich because I'm hungry) to the extreme (I hoard stuff and put it in my home so much so there is no room to live because with it I fill a hole created by the deep sense of loss when my husband died) and there is everything in between. For me, I notice that my motives might not be pure when I fly off the handle - really lose my cool, usually for silly reasons - and it is in these moments that I can really reflect and learn something about myself.

And I have a very recent example. My husband and I are undergoing some pretty big changes in our lives at the moment. We're going to be moving in a little over a month, changing jobs, homes, lifestyles, friends, and moving away from family. To us, it's a big deal and emotions are pretty high these days. So when a very small project of replacing the screen door became a several-day 'fix' due to some bad decisions made by 'the handyman husband', I sat there seething, self-righteously furious that time, energy and money had to now be allocated to something that wasn't 'broke' in the first place. Sure, I could chalk it all up to stress due to the life changes, but for me, that was a cop out. I had to examine myself, and the reasons for my deep anger, and I found something surprising: I didn't trust my husband with home renovations. Sure he's made mistakes in the past, but I'd say those things have only been the exceptions - generally speaking he's a fabulous handyman.

So why the mistrust? Because of my own deep-seated perfectionism. I never, ever attempt things that I know *might not* succeed. Whereas, my husband, God bless him, just plows on through. Usually his instincts pay off. And sometimes they don't. My reasons for getting furious with him were to try and change his behaviour, so that he becomes more like me. And that's just who I want to be married to...myself. Yuck!

So we talked. I affirmed him in his decision-making. We have sort of devised a system of percentages so that I can have an idea of his thoughts. I can ask him how sure he is, percentage-wise, that this or that will have a good outcome, and then we can talk about taking the first step, especially when it comes to home renos.

In all of this I have realized that examining motives is not the easiest thing to do. It requires a very healthy dose of humility and the want to change. Sometimes the reasons for our actions are so hidden and deep that it may take us years to find healing and change patterns. But it is imperative that we keep working at it or else we will end up in worse places than ever. Paul and Silas end up being beaten and put in the stocks in prison due to the slave-owner's outcries. And although the story has a miraculous ending with an earthquake freeing them both, and saving the soul of a prison guard and his family along the way (God allows good to come from just about anything!!), I certainly wouldn't want to be in the shoes of a person causing such bodily harm to God's people.

Be alert for these opportunities for growth and use them wisely.


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What is a woman? What does it mean to be feminine? There is softness and hardness, compassion and ferocity. There is contentment and adventure, freedom and service. We're conundrums, especially to ourselves, but we all, in some way, possess beauty, creativity, intuition and love. We were made for love, and we are loved, cellulite and all. Here we aim to show every woman the richness and beauty of her own femininity and explore current issues relating to women in our world. We also wish to share our own experiences - exploring the joys and challenges of stay-at-home moms and single professionals and everyone in between. Welcome! So glad you're here!


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