Monday, December 3, 2007

The Essence of a Woman

My sister is leading a group of women in her church through a series of books intended to help each women come to know their Creator in a more intimate way and thereby helping them to live a life of abundance and blessing as they glorify their God in Christ more. She sent me a daily reading from one of the books that they are currently reading. I think it speaks so wonderfully to a woman's spirit that I wanted others to benefit from it. One place that this group has used to get some benficail books is from the following website. Any of these books can help you to better understand who you are and why God brought you to this earth.

you may need to paste the URL into your address line in one continuous line in order for it to redirect you to the site.

Daily Reading from - "The Ransomed Heart" Ministry

When we speak about the essence of a woman – her beauty – we don’t mean “the perfect figure.” The beauty of a woman is first a soulish beauty. We know – it’s a harder jump to make. We’ve lived so long under the pressure to be beautiful. But stay with the thought for a moment, because it will really help. The beauty of a woman is first a soulful beauty. And yes, as we live it out, own it, inhabit our beauty, we do become more lovely. More alluring. As the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote, “Self flashes off frame and face.” Our true self becomes reflected in our appearance. But it flows from the inside out.

The essence of a woman is Beauty. She is meant to be the incarnation – our experience in human form – of a Captivating God. A Godwho invites us.

“You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride;
you have stolen my heart
with one glance of your eyes,
with one jewel of your necklace.
You are a garden fountain,
a well of flowing water
streaming down from Lebanon.” (Songs 4:9, 15)

Beauty is what the world longs to experience from a woman. We know that – somewhere down deep, we know it to be true. Most of our shame comes from this knowing and feeling that we have failed here. So hear this: Beauty is an essence that dwells inevery woman. It was given to her by God. It was given to you.

Surely you would agree that God is nothing if not beautiful.

All around us God’s creation shouts of his beauty and his goodness. The way snow creates a silhouette of lace on a barren tree, the rays of sun streaming forth from a billowing cloud, the sound of a brook trickling over smooth stones, the form of a woman’s body and the face of a child anticipating the arrival of the ice cream truck all speak of God’s good heart if we will have but the eyes to see. The coming of spring after a hard winter is almost too glorious for a soul to bear. God’s beauty is lavished on the world.

Beauty may be the most powerful thing on earth. Beauty speaks. Beauty invites. Beauty nourishes. Beauty comforts. Beauty inspires. Beauty is transcendent. Beauty draws us to God.

A woman in her glory, a woman of beauty, is a woman who is not striving to become beautiful or worthy or enough. She knows in her quiet centre where God dwells that He finds her beautiful, has deemed her worthy and in him, she is enough. In fact, the only thing getting in the way of our being fully captivating and enjoyed is our hiding and striving.

So Jesus says, “I will quiet you with My love” (Zephaniah 3:17). A woman of true beauty is a woman who in the depths of her soul is at rest; trusting God because she has come to know Him to be worthy of her trust. She exudes a sense of calm; a sense of rest; and invites those around her to rest as well. She speaks comfort; that all is well; that all will be well. A woman of true beauty offers others the grace to be and the room to become. In her presence, one can release the tight sigh that so often grips our hearts, and breathe in the truth that God loves us and he is good.

This is why we must keep asking. Ask Jesus to show you your beauty. Ask him what he thinks of you as a woman. His words to us let us rest. And unveil our beauty. (Captivating , 130-132)

From The Ransomed Heart, by John Eldredge, reading 336 Ransomed Heart Ministries


Anonymous said...

A Psychological Analysis of Fundamentalism

Fundamentalism is a religious movement, a theological & philosophical stand, a political and social force. I regard it most basically as a particular variety of psychological development. Fundamentalists of all religious and political varieties share the same character traits. It is the psychological character of the fundamentalist that is at the root of the ideological interpretation termed "fundamentalism," not an intellectual or spiritual concept.

"Fundamentalist" is a term sometimes used to refer to anyone who is intolerant of other's beliefs. Fundamentalism is "not so much an ideology as it is an attitude, an attitude of intolerance, incivility and narrowness," says Walter Shurden, professor of Christianity and director of the Center for Baptist Studies at Mercer University. "It is an attitude that says, 'We have the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and we are going to impose it on you and control the system so that you will have to knuckle under to it.'" As anyone who has ever attended a meeting of two or more activists can attest, that attitude can be found at all points on the political and religious spectrum.

There are, however, specific traits to what can be called "right wing" fundamentalism (of any religion) that what is sometimes called "left wing fundamentalism" lacks: authoritarianism, sexual guilt, and attitudes toward women and homosexuals.

Psychological traits of fundamentalism:

A strictly hierarchical and authoritarian worldview. Everything has to have a First, a Somebody in Charge. In any partnership, one partner has to have the deciding vote. Groups and societies work best with rigidly defined roles and stratifications. (There are people who believe this way who are not fundamentalists: at least, not religious fundamentalists.)
Ethical development at the "reward and punishment" stage: morality must be defined and enforced by an external authority.
A lot of guilt and fear about sex.
Basic distrust of human beings; certainty that "uncontrolled," human beings will be bad and vicious, particularly in sexual ways.
Low tolerance for ambiguity. Everything must be clear cut, black and white. Nothing can be "possibly true but unproven at this time, we're still studying it." Fundamentalists regard science as flawed precisely because science changes. (A striking characteristic of fundamentalists is that their response to any setback which may instill doubt is to step up evangelizing for converts.)
Literalism, usually including a limited sense of humor.
Distrust of their own judgment, or any other human being's judgment.
Fear of the future. The driving motivation of fundamentalism appears to outsiders to be fear that oneself or the group one identifies with is losing power and prerequisites and is in danger from others who are gaining power. This is not how fundamentalists put it.
A low self-esteem that finds satisfaction in being one of the Elect, superior to all others. It seems to be particularly rewarding to know that rich people have a real hard time getting into Heaven.
The life experience of fundamentalist that seems to encourage these traits include:

Conditional love: parents, or other authority figures, withheld love to control behavior.
Other factors -- sometimes mental, emotional, or even physical abuse -- that minimized self-esteem.
For those who grew up fundamentalist, the church was the central activity of family life, all else was subsidiary to the church, and social interaction with "non-believers" was discouraged, except when evangelizing.
Those who have converted to fundamentalism often grew up without any firm philosophical framework, or experienced some trauma that destroyed their former framework. They were at a time in their lives when they needed absolute Answers.
Fundamentalist groups reinforce these traits:

They insist on a rigid hierarchy of authority. The more extreme the group, the more authority is concentrated in one central figure.
The group, and the authority figure(s) within the group, withhold or bestow love to control behavior. Misbehaving members are cut off from communication.
They magnify current social and individual evils and dwell on the "innate wickedness of man."
Sexual "immorality" is often their central cause.
They promote a Truth which is superior to all other truths because it is absolute and unchanging.
They promote distrust of one's personal judgment, being subject instead to the given truths of the group, the judgment of the church as a body, or the proclamations of a central authority figure.
They are apocalyptic, foretelling an immanent and horrifying future which only the faithful will survive. Any disaster in the news is magnified as "a sign of the apocalypse.

Jen said...

I hear that you think that I am intolerant and narrow minded.

I find that interesting since I've been on both sides of this issue. I've discovered a greater peace in where I am today.

What is your point in posting? You need not accept what I say.

If you don't like what I have to say, just read and move on, or are you trying to "impose on me and control me through your system of beliefs and values!"

Samantha said...

Jen--I apologize for leaving this as a comment, but could not find any other way to contact you.

Dr. Warren Throckmorton is a researcher and therapist whose work I've been following for more than a year now. I like his open-mindedness and perspective. He is currently researching the experience of heterosexuality in those who have same-sex attraction, trying to learn more about it - whether it is the same or different from the individual's experience of SSA.

I hope you'll think about participating in his study (which pretty much consists of taking a fairly short questionnaire). You can contact him directly with "research study" in the subject field of your email and let him know if you're interested:
Of course, participation can be done anonymously.

Once again, I'm grateful for your blog. It's nice to know I'm not the only woman who has experienced SSA who is in a happy marriage. Thanks!