Chasing Accolades

All my life I have been ambitious. My ambitions have changed a few times, but I always have them. Being a wife and mother was always on my list of goals, but I have always avoided the thought that motherhood might be my only job. How we define ourselves as women has changed over the past 40 years, and now many women don’t derive enough satisfaction from their own lives. They need careers and ministries and awards and promotions to feel full, to feel satisfied.

I have given up my goals of becoming a professor and of being the worship arts leader at a church, but I still have dreams. I long to get a second chapbook published, as well as a full length book of poetry. In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with dreams and ambitions. But my fulfillment and satisfaction should come from my God-ordained roles as wife and mother. I am reading a book called Girl Defined. For the most part it is written for younger women, a book I will save for my daughter. But in it the authors do pose some interesting questions that have given me much to ponder.

Why do I feel so strong a need to get published, and how will I feel if I don’t get published? If my poetry is good it is good whether anyone publishes it or not. If my poetry is bad it is bad whether anyone publishes it or not. And there have been many good poets that went unpublished and there have been many bad poets published.  Most importantly, I can enjoy writing poetry whether anyone publishes me or not.

Poetry is an act of  communication, so it is natural to want readers. But I have my blog for that, and I value each and every visitor and comment.

But underneath a healthy desire for communication with other people, is a culturally instilled sense of inferiority. In our culture it is not enough to be a wife and mother. Rather than being purely motivated to share my art as an act of sharing beauty with the world, I am also motivated by competitiveness, and a deep-seated need for worldly approval. In someone who is not a Christian, such an attitude can lead to messed up priorities and low self esteem. Ditto for Christians, but it is also completely unacceptable. Our highest calling (with the exception of childless women or women gifted with singleness) is as wives and mothers. Being a wife is enough. Being a mother is enough.

It is fine for women to have ambitions. It is okay to have hopes and dreams outside family life. But family life should always come first, and any ambitions should be held up to careful scrutiny. Does this goal glorify God? Am I striving for this to share beauty or wisdom or knowledge with the world, or to exalt myself? Accolades are not bad, but should never be the goal.

Ultimately, what it comes down to is that it’s okay to have dreams for the future as long as those dreams for the future don’t arise from dissatisfaction with the present. In all things we are supposed to give thanks to God. My problem is that I am chasing satisfaction where I should not be. I should be wholly grateful for my life at home with my family. I should not let the world’s definition of success define me.

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Men Have Authority

Men have a unique responsibility to lead their families and those around them.  In the Garden of Eden God made man first, and it was to man that he gave the task of naming the animals. To name something is to have a sort of authority over it. God did not give this task to Eve. He gave it to Adam before Eve was in created. And when Eve was created he was created to be a partner suitable for Adam. Adam was not created for Eve. Eve was created for Adam.

I have recently ordered several books on biblical gender roles and biblical femininity. As a wife who tries to submit to her husband these are topics that are of interest to me. Currently I’m reading through an 8-week study, although I’m reading it all at once, called True Woman 101 Divine Design. It goes over different Bible verses about creation and submission and marriage and spiritual leadership. I’m in an interesting section right now that talks about the biblical roles of men. Men were assigned to work the Earth. Women were not given that assignment. We were not tasked with working. We were tasked with having children, and then later verses of the Bible keeping our homes.

The authors pose the following question. What does God’s design for men reveal about His heart for women? I think it reveals a lot of love for women. God loves women. He made us creatures of beauty and rather than put the burden of authority and Leadership on our heads he gave it to men. That’s not to say that he loves men any less but rather that he created them differently. They are designed to be our leaders and our protectors and we are designed to submit and to be protected.

I am reminded that the relationship between man and wife is supposed to mirror the relationship between Christ and the church and between God and Jesus. Although we are one flesh with our husbands, wives are supposed to submit just as the church should submit to Christ and just as Christ submits to God. That does not make Jesus lesser then God. That does not make the church, his bride, any less loved or holy.  That certainly does not make wives worth less than their husbands. But our God is a god of order and this is the natural Order of Things. There is a hierarchy. And God has instituted the hierarchy since the dawn of creation. He had it in His plans even before then.

Sometimes I find a lot of Beauty in my role as a wife and mother. I certainly see a lot of Beauty in submission. Other times I chafe a little bit. There are some dreams that I used to have that now I cannot fulfill because to do so would be to break up my family or to short change them or misuse family funds. I am not my family’s provider, and so my career ambitions and educational desires come second. Of course I don’t want to be a man and so I don’t want the job of being the provider, but this does mean that being a professor is never going to happen for me and that going to Seminary and becoming a creative worship Arts director is never going to happen for me. I don’t have the geographic mobility and my place is at home. So I should find my joy there.

I hope my scattered thoughts make some sense, and I hope that you’ll join me over the next several weeks as I write about gender, submission, femininity, homemaking, and living a life that is pleasing to God while still trying to find good creative and intellectual Outlets. I am not June Cleaver. I hate cooking, I don’t know how to sew, and I have help with the housework. I love reading and writing and debates. I adore art. But none the less I know I am supposed to be a keeper at home first, and subject to my husband.

 

A Daughter is Equal to a Son

“You need to have a boy to carry on the family name.” “It is your responsibility to have a boy. We don’t need more girls. We need a boy.” But, I explain, girls are wonderful and I would love ten more of them. My father had two girls and was happy with them. “Well then your family is history. They’re dead then.”

These were a few  of the remarks I got from my husband’s grandfather and his grandfather’s girlfriend. And I was really taken aback. Society has advanced so much but to hear that a girl child is not as welcome as a boy child really threw me for a loop. How could anyone look at my beautiful baby girl and see her as being less than the best? Why is a boy necessary or even desirable when we have her? And if I did have another baby why wouldn’t I want to experience the joy of raising a baby girl again?

My daughter is not a consolation prize. She is not what you accept when you can’t get something better. There is nothing better and I would not favor having a son over her.

Girls carry the family legacy just as much as boys do, and in fact girls are often the glue that holds a family together. It is women that knot the ties that bind. And many of us do carry our father’s names probably either by keeping our maiden names or using our maiden names as a middle name. Whatever accomplishments I may have in my life, whether it is getting a book published or something else, my father’s name will be emblazoned on me and I will do him proud. No, my children will not carry my father’s name, but what is the arrogance of man that he thinks he can pass down his label through every generation? Do men really think that when someone achieves something great six Generations from now anyone is going to look back and say well your great-great-great grandfather must have been a hell of a guy? You can’t pass on a name forever, and if you have posterity worth being celebrated and researched, their mother and her forebears will be researched also.

What we need are patriarchal family units, but a more matriarchal society. The roles and achievements of women are just as important as the roles and achievements of men, and we are as much part of our family lineages as males are.

So no, I don’t need a son. I have a daughter to carry my husband’s family and mine. She is as much a Minner and an Applegate as she is a McLemore, and she will be part of the McLemore line after she marries.  It is time to talk about the legacy of daughters.

Passing the Bechdel Test

Passing the Bechdel Test

 

A voice from a blouse

A skirt of leaves

They have immolated their wicker man.

They talk of flowers and the physics of particles,

of vacuous clothing and sumptuous books.

 

 

 

 

Yet beneath brocade and bead work and sneaking mist

there is a want

 

they feel

but cannot remember.