I've left some lengthy comments on Beth's site recently. I hope you will take the time to read them and the context in which they were written. I want to talk a little more about women and the things we do for love. For many of you, this is a familiar passage:
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; 5 it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; 10 (1 Corinthians 13:1-10)
Imagine saying, "if I die to all of my hopes and desires, let someone else make all my decisions, be the perfect dutiful wife, and march silently in long suffering - but have not love, I am nothing."
I DO THIS FOR LOVE! you scream at me. I disagree. I think you do this so that others will love you -- husband, children, fellow Christians, your parents, God. In doing this you don't say "I love you", but rather "Please, Love me." See me follow the rules. See what a good follower I can be. please oh please oh please don't reject me -- I'll do anything to please you. I'll give up everything, I'll wear the clothes you want, I'll fix my hair the way you want -- all for you. I do it all for you. I'M DOING WHAT I'M SUPPOSED TO DO! you might argue. Who says?
What follows this sort of self sacrifice is inevitable, because no matter how much you toe the line, the object of your manipulation (that's right -- I said manipulation. When we act in a manner to achieve an expected result, we are attempting to control the outcome. We are manipulating our husbands, God, our children, the women at the bible study) the object of your manipulation will never quite return your favor to the level of your expectation (after all I've done for you..). What follows is bitterness, frustration, anger (irritable, resentful (1 cor13: 5)). We are the mavens of guilt, the Reverend Mothers of the Holy people. Pharisees. We are the noisy gong, the clanging cymbal (1cor13:1).
The best part of this scripture is found in verses 8 and 9. It says in short, everything but love will pass away. Everything you're holding on to is folly -- only love is valuable. Prophesy and knowledge will pass away. Everything you think to be true today may be gone tomorrow -- but love, love that is real will remain. Love that is real will never die. Wouldn't it follow then to be sure that we are praying for real love in our lives? Not a prayer to survive the misery that is our life, but to LOVE the life we live. When we love the life we live, it's so easy to pour it out -- it's overflowing.
Real love requires courage. It requires faith. It requires us to be everything God created us to be, and requires us to encourage the same from the ones we love. It asks us to trust others to love us as we are, and doesn't promise that they ever will do that. It requires us to say the truth at all times, even when it hurts. It often will result in sacrifice. Frederick Buechner says that to sacrifice something is to make it holy by giving it away for love. Most people who have experienced this type of sacrifice know without a doubt they would do it again without hesitation.
Just for the heck of it, reread the love chapter above, and imagine for an instant that God loves you in this way. Say it a couple of times over and over. God loves me. God loves me. God loves me.
Lord help us to really love and be loved. Our husbands, Our Kids, Our Friends, You, Ourselves. Help us to really love our lives. Carpe Diem.
More to follow -- women's inhumanity to women.