What makes a woman beautiful? What makes her shine? What exalts her and causes her to be honored and respected? Her strength is deep. How does she thrive?
With my recent focus on setting up this site, you may have noticed that I haven’t posted any articles in a few weeks. Interestingly enough, this particular topic was not even on my mind. Then I came across an article by Steve Pavlina.
I discovered Steve Pavlina just a few weeks ago in April, read a few of his posts and perceived integrated wisdom coming from a very real place. Less than a week ago, I subscribed to his RSS feed. I didn’t look at it for a couple of days, and then in my reader, I saw this: “How to Be A Man” (2 days ago).
The Value of a Vision
I thought to myself, “Well, that’s interestingly bold. Hmm, let’s see what this is about. …but judging from most of what I’ve read of his, it’s bound to be pretty good. And if it is, our boys and young men could use some inspiration and guidance.”
(Our grown men too, for that matter. There’s no shame in improving one’s game. The only shame is in being too proud and stubbornly rejecting proper development for destructive, unfruitful, well-worn habits and conditioning. Therefore, a man who is honest with himself and others, and humbly persevering enough to admit defeat enough times to finally learn to find and follow the successful paths in life has all my admiration, respect and cooperation.)
So I read it, and yes, it did turn out to be a good read. At points, he had me saying, “Go ahead, man, tell it. Go ON with your bad self.” There is not one verse of scripture quoted, but I see godly principles of faith, integrity and sovereignty running all through that article. And then, at the end…
Steve threw out an offer to the community to write a female version. I said to myself, “Wow. I don’t know. Write “How To Be a Woman”. That’s a pretty big responsibility.” They are some pretty big shoes to fill to tell someone how to be a woman. I don’t dare claim to have all my ducks lined up in a row, lest I fall due to complacency or pride alone. There are certainly areas in which I can improve, but I decided to give it a shot, because I can share the vision of womanhood that inspires and guides me.
After all, in order to reach a goal, we’ve got to first have a vision of what it is, and what it’s supposed to look and feel like. In order to climb to a mountain peak, we need to see it and understand where it is. Until we do this, it matters not how near or far any of us are to any goal, since we can’t see the goal clearly enough to be able to advance toward it wisely and effectively, with vision and purpose.
The Strength of Womanhood
In keeping with my belief that at our core, we are all the same, I feel that much of Steve’s discourse on “How to Be a Man” applies to the woman as well.
Are there differences? I certainly think so, but the core qualities of inspiration from within, integrity, honor and faith remain. The difference is perhaps more one of tone, intuitive sensitivity, refinement and purpose – skillfully crafting our strength into a more gracious expression that nurtures children and loved ones, and that flows, inspires and cooperates harmoniously with the more masculine energies in life. I believe this is what distinguishes us from men.
Our strength is complementary and shines through our compassion and adaptability to the people in our world. We are motivators to friends, family, co-workers, bosses and employees. We are peacemakers, harmonizers. We are the glue that knits families together – that link between the father and the children, with the intuitive ability to understand the feelings and needs of both.
We needn’t have power struggles and compete with the men in our lives for seniority or authority. We ought to encourage them to do what they, if for nothing more than the testosterone levels flowing through them, do best. Men need to feel like they can “be men” in order to be able to bring forth their best and put forth their best toward us. And when they do, it blesses everyone. And our strength shines brighter and more beautifully in harmony with theirs.
Of course, no unreasonable or unhealthy excesses are acceptable in the balance between the sexes, but one of our major strengths and glories as women is in adapting, and encouraging and wisely influencing the process for good in harmony and unity, and not competitive self seeking, which divides. We ought to be secure in our sphere and quality of influence.
The Reach of Womanhood
Our reach proclaims itself. When passers by find themselves caught in front of TV cameras, what do they say? “Hi ma!” What are the most popular fighting words? “Your mother.” How often have we been a comfort to a friend to heal from a tough experience? And how often have we heard men attribute their success to a woman in their life, be it mother, grandmother, wife or sister?
Clearly, he had to find it somewhere within himself in the first place. But who catches this dream of his, believes in him, and inspires and helps motivate and multiply him into the absolute best he can be so he can and wants to do his best by you and everyone else? The world knows it: “Behind every successful man, is a good woman.” And so does he … when we’re working with him.
For this same reason, we have a great responsibility. With our compassionate, intuitive nature, the deep psychological effects we can have on others (lovers and children) have power to increase glory or to turn the world on its ear. A prime example would be the story of Adam and Eve. (Genesis 2)
Women are also receivers and multipliers. As with the seed in the womb, we are the nurturers who take the little and incubate it and gently care for it, coax it, encourage it, inspire it to proper development and onto maturity. Thus, complementary though we are, we ought never underestimate our power. We have the power to multiply or destroy, and ought to use it wisely for the peace and prosperity of all involved (as our own creations will speak to and of us one day).
“The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands.” (Proverbs 14:1)
Wisdom: Tending Our Garden
That said, since we are receivers, we must be careful what we receive. We must be discriminating about who we allow to plant what in our gardens. We can’t have everybody running all through our garden with whatever. “What is this garden you are talking about?” I am referring to any and all our gardens, but there are two which come to mind.
The garden of our mind
Since everything we do affects others, and since only what goes into us can come out of us, I think the following questions are worthy of examination:
How do we tend our thought life? What kind of speech do we generally employ, and about what? Do we allow people to pour into our ears a continual stream of idle conversation, gossip, negativity and contention about things that don’t matter or that we can’t do anything about anyway?
That’s a sure way to grow weeds of laziness, meddlesomeness, futility and strife. This can only be passed on and multiplied in the lives of our spouses and children – simply by the mere powerful multiplicative energy of our nature. This is not what we truly want for ourselves, or for our families either. If we observe the deeper principles at work, and mind our thoughts and environment, we can avoid this.
“It is better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house.” (Proverbs 25:24)
“Better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.” (Proverbs 21:19)
I suppose it can be kind of sad, but every time I read these scriptures – I can’t lie – I have to laugh. It’s just hilarious. Is that how bad it feels? So much so, that it’s in there TWICE? Maybe, maybe not, but apparently in some cases it can. I think if we were to ask men about the deep effects we as women can have on them for good or for ill, many of them would probably see some truth in these scriptures.
It just goes to show the force of of a woman’s influence. Whether that force becomes real power through the true strength of self-control, cultivation, refinement and wise direction is up to us. Women have so much strength to contribute, but our truest strength is manifested through balance. Balance is beauty. I suppose I’d say that is our true beauty – a healthy combination of strength, industry, ambition, wisdom and sweetness.
So from what we read above, the following question bears asking:
If we, through not discriminately tending the garden of our minds, can end up having this effect on our men and children, then what would we be sending out into the world through them?
…Unless, of course, we have a man of integrity, who is strong enough to lovingly withstand us, make his way unhindered and, as a result of being connected to the Source, raise the standard by being an example … which is very good, in which case we’d do well to suck it up a little and cooperate for the good of the whole, for a house divided against itself cannot stand (Luke 11:17-18) and how “can two walk together except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3)
Nevertheless, setting good examples and precedents for the children is absolutely necessary. They need both parents for that. So we always do well to watch what we let into our minds.
The secret garden of our person and our self-esteem
If we’ve got good soil, then we should only accept good seed into it. When it comes to choosing a partner, how does he treat us? Does he have any integrity? Can he care for us properly? We can know the seed from the fruit born/borne in the life. Unless he’s bearing good fruit in his own life, do we want him planting seed in ours? A wise woman understands that how she lets others treat her will affect what grows in her life.
A wise woman develops healthy boundaries and values and develops her worth. She does not allow others with less vision to undermine her and determine her worth for her. She keeps herself as a precious field, enfenced about and protected from vultures and scavengers, maintaining its worth and value for that of good purpose.
What and where are these boundaries? What qualifies as good purpose? Only she can choose these. They may change periodically throughout life as she experiences herself and discovers who she is and what she chooses to express and attract in her life. But the more consciously and wisely she chooses, the easier the transitions and the more pleasant the journey.
A wise woman doesn’t just get swept along with the tide. She cultivates and develops herself and her vision, for she understands that she cannot attract and receive better than how she treats herself and how she allows herself to be treated. Nor can she attract, receive and maintain better than she has developed herself to be.
The Virtuous Woman
And I’d be remiss not to present this passage of scripture at a time like this:
“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her worth is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband safely trusts her, so he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax, and willingly works with her hands.
She is like the merchant ships; she brings her food from afar.
She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants.
She considers a field and buys it; from her profits she plants a vineyard.
She girds herself with strength, and strengthens her arms.
She perceives that her merchandise is good, and her lamp does not go out by night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hand holds the spindle.
She extends her hand to the poor. Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household is clothed with scarlet.
She makes tapestry for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies sashes for the merchants.
Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice in time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.
She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
‘Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.’
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.”
A Very Worthy Call
(I wish I could have expounded more – there are angles of womanhood I haven’t even touched – but I have to wrap it up now as the deadline is fast upon me – I only had a few hours to work on this.)
Here I see a picture of integrity, honor, intelligence, wisdom, strength, industry, compassion, ability, foresight, resourcefulness, productivity, entrepreneurialism, focus, diligence, creativity, good judgment, responsibility, honesty, kindness, and good will – a strong, wise, visionary, harmonious, self-loving, caring, co-operative, Spirit-led babe in total control of herself – one happy fulfilled woman.
“The heart of her husband safely trusts in her…and he praises her.”
Priceless for a happy union.
“Her children rise up and call her blessed.”
Now that’s a worthy goal to shoot for… If you do your job well, your creation, though it once struggled under your molding, will in the end have the wisdom and fortitude to rise up and call you blessed. Yes, I like that idea.
“Let her own works praise her in the gates.”
Uh-huh, that sounds good.
All’s well that ends well.
Happy Belated Mother’s Day to all.
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