Our editor has invited us to look at the privileges of being a woman. No doubt we will each view those privileges from a different point of view. I have often appreciated the freedom from having to behave like a man. No mechanics for me, for example.
But I do not get sentimental about the fact that some 100,000 dirty forks have clinked into my sink in my lifetime, very few of which were ever washed by the male members of my household. Still, there are some aspects of the feminine experience that are spectacular and that go a long way to compensating for the forks, such as giving birth. But I submit that roles we call maleness or femaleness are temporary (for this life only), but there is a ‘feminine’ privilege that outlasts gender and under-girds the blessings of gender. Let me explain.
“There you are!” Kathie’s cheerful voice drew my attention to my friend’s rapid approach. I was glad to see her out and about because she was due to lead the children’s meeting in about 20 minutes. It was my responsibility to organize the children’s meetings while my husband helped with the adult meetings at this family camp. And she had been a reluctant volunteer.
As if reading my mind, she said right out, “I can’t do my meeting.”
But you promised! I thought, as I said out loud , “Oh no, what will I do?”
Kathie shrugged, “God has a solution.” Oh sure, I thought, but I have to figure it out.
“Why don’t we just ask Him right now?” Kathie added. It was my turn to shrug. It would still be my problem. After my desperate plea, Kathie added a cheerful prayer of gratitude that God had the children’s meeting covered.
As she bounced off, I stood there resenting her cheerful dismissal of her “duty.” She could have at least acted guilty that she had broken her promise. At other times, I felt it was a privilege to be the wife of a leader, but not now. I hated being responsible for the children. I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. A voice in my head taunted, a woman’s work is never done! Adding, No rest for the weary! I’d done my best, only to have it unraveled. Just like a woman her husband would never have abdicated on his meeting (of course, he loved to talk, but still …)
Hindsight tells me that it was my privilege to face Kathie’s abandonment without panic. After all, God has promised that “all things work together for good…” Kathie seemed to believe that it would work out for good. As for me, had I thought of Ro 8:28, I might have thought that any good coming out of this would be my improved patience under fire, but I didn’t think of it at all.
A privilege is “a special advantage, immunity, permission, right or benefit granted to or enjoyed by an individual or group…” something we can cash in when we really need it. It’s not a privilege to have a police escort?unless you are in danger. But if you are, it’s a great privilege! Right now I really needed a rescue, a privilege-card I could pull out of my pocket that would grant me immunity to the fallout from this betrayal, in twenty minutes or less!
I should have seen it coming. I’d had clues. But what can I do now? I’m going to be the one who looks bad, whether I cancel, or try to improvise. Help!
Well, unbeknown to me, God was about to teach me that I had the same privilege that Kathie had claimed, which privilege I so much resented in her. I was going to learn that worry is unnecessary, that all things do work together for good. I suspect my Heavenly Father was chuckling as He choreographed my learning curve.
At that very moment, an older woman appeared around the corner, echoing Kathie’s “There you are!” I smiled a fainthearted greeting and Jean continued, “Do you have an empty slot in the Children’s Program where I could share something?” Huh? What did she say? How about in twenty minutes?
WOW! I think I’m getting it. I do have a privilege card that I can use when things get tough. It is signed by God Himself, “From this day, I will bless you.” (Hag 2:19) “All things work together for good…” (Ro 8:28), “Since thou was precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee… (Isa 43:4) And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shall hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God. (Deut 28:2)
Does He really mean that? Well, Jean is obviously God’s solution (not mine) to this dilemma. I get it! I don’t have to figure out how to save my reputation. God wants to be my rescuer!
Did you notice, however, that there are some conditions to the blessings? I must hearken, which means there are some things not covered by my privilege card (i.e. God is not codependent to my self-indulgence). I have learned that He will not give me permission to ignore:
- My personal responsibility to plant what I want to receive: Mat 7:1-2 Is there anger at Kathie in my heart or the fear of the Lord? (see Ga 6:7, Pro 31:31)
- My need to make a choice: Deu 38:19 It’s up to me to choose life over anger and self-pity. Will I look at the situation through God’s eyes? He wants to facilitate a win/win situation. Amos 5:14 Do I have a heart to serve the children? Ro 16:1-2 How will this affect my friendship with Kathie? Pro 18:24
- My need to forgive: Mat 6:14 Will I admit I can’t forgive; will I seek and embrace HIS gift of forgiveness, or embrace bitterness? If I veto His offer, unforgiveness will eventually cancel my privilege card. (vs. 15) O.K., I admit, these are some challenges. But before you give up, let’s take a closer look at just what is covered? Since this is a personal story, here are some of my challenges that I have found are covered: Unexpected difficulties: (e.g. a flat tire on the way to an appointment, or when my efforts to organize the children’s program ran into a roadblock) Jn 15:5; Ex 14:14
- He faithfully provides a way out. Pride, (Lu 18:11) Self-pity, and fear: (Gen 4:13, Mat 25:25) God’s replacement of these is a contrite heart. (Isa 57:15)
- It is such a privilege to be a winner in the midst of difficulties! Responsibilities that are not assigned by the Father, (but by someone else): Acts 4:19; Isa 42:8 Had Kathie (or I) accepted an assignment that was not hers (or mine) in the first place? I needed to ask: Did I accept the assignment to solve the problem, when God already had a solution?
- Kathie modeled for me the joy of letting go. False expectations: Gen 31:2 (God’s answer in vs. 3) Also Mat 9:11; Lu 15:2: For example, those expectations we put on each other, saying things like, ‘everybody else is coming’ or ‘we need your help;’ (too often I gave in to this without asking our Heavenly Father what is HIS assignment for me in this issue) etc; also in this category are those I put on myself… ‘I should be (do, have) ____.”
- Through Jean, God invited me to let go of my selfinflicted expectations. False guilt: Luke 15:25-30 Isa 65:5 (God’s answer: Mat 10:28) False guilt is feeling guilty for not meeting false expectations, and it is likely to center around one’s own (perhaps misplaced) ideals. In this case I recognized that something was misplaced because I was so upset. About what? The children? Or because I didn’t want people to see me as incompetent. Can you see the real guilt of pride and not trusting –buried under the false guilt of thinking I must perform in a certain way? I have come to see that false guilt is there to camouflage the real guilt and is often tied to desired or feared consequences rather than the convicting power of the Spirit.
- The joy came, not from the solution, but from releasing the false guilt. Weakness and failure: My sense of failure comes most often from my high expectations of myself. I have been taught that I can do it, rather than He can do it. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. 2 Cor 12:10
Before I can embrace the privilege that attends the office of Womanhood, I must first see myself as a privileged child of the Father. Only then can I see that His assignment is the perfect one for me. My office (of Woman) is temporary. Children grow up and leave home; husbands die; my strength fails; my spindle breaks. My privileges of Woman-ing turn to memories, a baby’s smile, a husband’s touch, a perfect meal.
But I never stop being the cherished daughter of the King! This is my grand privilege. When I am attacked by the Enemy of men, I have a special advantage in the Person of Messiah; when I am accused, I can claim immunity through the blood; when false expectations clamor to be heard, I have permission of ignore them; I have the right to ask for help in my weakness. This kind of privilege makes life as a woman worth living.