Don’t be someone whom Satan overlooks

I’ve been reading Job. Something different struck me this time, as I read that first distressing chapter. Job lost everything: his children, his livestock, his wealth, his health and ultimately his hope. One person, however, remained: his wife.

I wondered about this. Why did Satan not afflict Job’s wife? When the children were killed, why did she survive? When Job was covered with oozing sores, why was she not?

There could not possibly be any grace on Satan’s part. He would not have decided to spare the one person about whom Job cared the most. Nor did God explicitly instruct that she be kept alive. He said at first that Job must remain unharmed, and later that his life must be spared, but it seems that Job’s wife was fair game.

Why did Satan leave her?

I don’t know for sure, but when I got to chapter 2, verse 10 I had a hunch. Job’s wife was likely the most precious and influential person in his life. Maybe Satan knew, that when push came to shove, she would say to him, as she did, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.”

Imagine being that kind of wife. The kind whom Satan would leave untouched, with the knowledge that she was better use to him alive than dead. What a position of influence she had, and how devastating, that when a crisis came, she abandoned her faith and exhorted her husband to do the same.

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What kind of man are you attracted to?

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As I was scrolling through Facebook the other day, I came across this picture. It says “The Gospel calls us to ‘man down,’ more so than to ‘man up.’ There is no masculinity without a core of humility.”

I’m not a man, so technically it doesn’t apply to me, but something about this hit me hard. Is that kind of man acceptable to Christian women?

Over the last year I’ve had the privilege of speaking to women on several issues of sexuality. One thing that has often grieved me is the way in which women are afraid that if they don’t dress in a certain way or act in a certain way they won’t be attractive, even to Christian men. Too many men, even in the church, have very secular standards for the type of woman that they want.

This quote, however, made me question things from the other side. As Christian women, what are we attracted to?

Sometimes, when I think about the qualities that make a Christ-like man, I have to ask myself ‘would I have even liked Jesus?’

So many Christian women, myself included, have adopted the world’s standards of what makes a man attractive. Instead of being attracted to humility, we are dazzled by arrogant confidence; instead of respecting dignity, we are obsessed with charisma; instead of godly, we want cool.

How important is it that we do not ask men choose between attracting women and following Christ?

Feminist Movie Checklist

Olhos fataisWhether we like it or not, the media plays a big role in setting and propagating what is considered normal.

We become so used to these portrayals of ‘normal’ that we rarely think to question it. When asked to question, however, we may be shocked at what we find.

A few months back, a friend introduced me to the ‘Feminist Movie Checklist.’ I’ll admit, the word ‘feminist’ made me skeptical from the start, but when we began discussing it, I was shocked to discover the extent of the stereotyping of women in film. Not just some films, but the vast majority of film.

Here’s the checklist. It’s nothing fancy. In fact, you’re just looking for one thing:

How many movies can you think of that have a scene, of ten seconds or more, in which there are no men, and in which two or more women are conversing on a topic other than men?

Think about it. You might be surprised.

Surprised by the fact that no one seems to care what women think on topics other than love and relationships?

Surprised that people only want to watch women in relation to men?

Surprised that we don’t even notice the discrepancy?

Next time you watch a movie, look for that ten-second clip. In the whole 120 minutes, you’ll be lucky to find one.

It’s Just Stuff…

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Have you ever destroyed something before you even got to use it? I have.

The other day I bought a new outfit. It was something a bit different, that I wouldn’t normally buy, but it was heavily reduced. And, let’s be honest, it looked pretty good on me. Virtually the instant I put in on in the change room it was sold. I imagined wearing it to parent-teacher interviews at work, and to church on Sunday. My vanity was probably getting the better of me.

I was so excited about the outfit that it was a talking point that night when I went out for dinner with friends.

Sunday morning I got ready for Church and went to iron my new outfit before I left. I turned the iron’s temperature down, but didn’t wait for it to cool. I didn’t think it needed to. The iron was on the garment for all of two seconds and it was ruined. As I lifted the iron away, a big piece of fabric lifted too, leaving a crusty, melted hole.

For a minute I considered crying. I thought of going back to my room and not bothering to go to church. But then I remembered: ‘Sarah, it’s just stuff!’ How often have I let myself become consumed with things that are just things? I put on a different outfit, and went to church, acknowledging to God ruefully that He had likely saved me from my vanity.

Chivalry Didn’t Die at the Hand of a Man

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt has long been said that chivalry is dead and I wonder, if this is true, who killed it?

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not because men in every city decided that they’d be happier just being jerks. Nope, the first stabs in chivalry’s back came from women who decided they’d be happier being treated like men.

Before I get an onslaught of anger over issues of equality and gender stereotypes, let me say this.: I’m all for equality, but I’m also all for difference. In centuries gone by, chivalry was a man’s way of respecting and honouring this distinction. It was not about his right to exert power; it was about her privilege of receiving service.

For centuries men and women have existed in a harmonious dance of give and take, each serving each other, until (dare I say) the women decided they wanted to do everything themselves. Goodness knows why they’ve felt a sudden need to open their own doors (no-one ever doubted you were capable of it) but somehow it seemed necessary as they hurtled past equality towards power and dominance, leaving emasculated men in their wake.

For the record, I don’t think chivalry is dead (though it is languishing under the pressure of decades of slow strangulation) and I commend the men who uphold it, but I would say this to the women who are lamenting its rarity: Before you cry in disgust that chivalry is dead, make sure you’re acting like a lady.

Body Image: Self Focused or God Focused?

I’m sick of standing around with adult women having petty conversations about our appearance.

‘Your hair is so beautiful, mine is flat and gross!’

‘My hair? No it’s not, yours is awesome. And you have such a better figure!’

‘What? My figure is average! You’re so much more curvy!’

I’m even hearing it in the church! Ladies, can you hear yourselves? This is not high school anymore!

Fashion Girl Vector IllustrationMost women worry about their appearance; I’m certainly not immune. It’s okay for women to want to be beautiful, but it’s not okay to obsess.

We live in a world that pushes body image and self-love as though it’s all there is to life, but Christian woman, hear me! It’s not the main thing! It’s not even close!

While we’re talking about how that other girl’s toenails look so much better polished than ours, there are people starving, children being trafficked, or, even closer to home, that girl standing over there alone who needs a friend.

Dress beautifully girls, but be beautiful first; Love yourself, but love God more.

Body image is a huge issue in our world, and I don’t think it’s because we don’t love ourselves enough. It’s because we’re more inward focused than outward; more in love with ourselves than we are with God.

I truly believe, that as we turn our eyes upon Jesus, and look full into His wonderful face, that the things of this world will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

A few things you shouldn’t say to a childless woman

Below is a condensed version of an article from The Age today that I thought was worth posting.

It is so important that we don’t make the assumption that people always get to choose their path in life.

If you’d like to read the full article, you can find it here.

A few things you shouldn’t say to a childless woman

Wendy Squires May 04, 2013

Photo Credit: Kylie Pickett

Not all women can have babies or want to have babies. Photo: Kylie Pickett

There are two words for the woman who reached over the table, grabbed my hand and in a consolatory tone announced, ”It’s a tragedy you never got around to having children. It’s the most wonderful thing a woman can do.”

Those words are ”shut” and ”up” (the printable response) or, more charitably, ”think” and ”first”. Because it doesn’t take Freud to work out this statement was patronising, assumptive and just plain insensitive.

…I wanted to thump her. Hard. Not just for me, but for all childless women. I’m talking about sisters on IVF; the ones who can’t carry to term; those who’ve suffered stillbirth or the loss of a child; the infertile; those with infertile partners; the ones hoping and waiting on a committed relationship; the ambivalent; the never intended to and don’t feel the need to justify the fact.

Most of the childless women I know do find peace with their circumstances, even if it takes some time. Until, that is, someone comes along and demands their curiosity itch be scratched as to why no kids or, worse, declares you emotionally or spiritually unfulfilled with uncalled for comments such as the one I endured.

I believe children are a gift and not a given in life, and those who receive should be grateful. They should not be offering from on high ”Oh, it is such a pity”, ”a tragedy”, ”you would have loved it”, consolations to those without – even if well intended. People need to stop and think what they are really saying to another with ”you don’t know love until you have a child”, ”I wasn’t complete until I had kids”, ”you are nothing without family” or the deplorable ”don’t you like children?”

A friend of mine who is a well-known celebrity understands this. I was watching when she was interviewed on TV once. The male host skipped through her bio with the clanger, ”You decided to choose career over family …” I will never forget my friend’s face, frozen in a smile that hid the angry tears I knew were welling. I was aware she had not chosen career over family as he so rudely surmised, but that she had miscarried her much-wanted baby late term and was told she would never have another as a result. Like most women there was a backstory to her situation, one that didn’t need ignorant supposition to aggravate.

I was with a girlfriend who had recently been told to give up on IVF and witnessed her pain when the ”you don’t know love until you have a child” remark was dropped at a party…

The simple fact – not that it is anyone’s damn business in the first place – is that most childless women today feel the decision was taken out of their hands through lack of financial and emotional security. According to a study in Australia’s Journal of Population Health, many childless women in their 30s want to have children, but can’t due to reasons ”beyond their control” such as not having a partner, stable relationship, or partner that wants children.

Perhaps in future when judging another woman on her life choices or publicly applauding your own, these statistics should be kept in mind. Not all women are awarded the same opportunities in life and not all women want or need them. Surely we can all agree on mutual respect and consideration of circumstance as a safe middle ground.

Saturday Age columnist Wendy Squires is a journalist, editor and author. Twitter: @Wendy_Squires

Am I a career woman?

I think from a young age, I thought that there were two types of women in the world. The wife/mummies, and the career women.

I’d always imagined I’d be the former. So what happened when I reached my late twenties and I was neither wife nor mummy? It may seem strange, but on occasion the thought crossed my mind: ‘ I guess I’ll have to be a career woman.’ This didn’t seem all ba???????????????????????????????????d. I liked my job, and the idea of being strong, independent and well dressed (all part of the career woman profile), but really, a career-focused life just wasn’t me. But what alternative did I have?

Recently I was walking through the city to do some shopping. I was dressed up; I felt good; free, independent and happy, and unwittingly, the idea flicked through my mind, ‘maybe I could be a career woman after all.’

For the first time, the absurdity of the thought registered. Since when were there only two options? Since when was I defined by my marital status or career success? ‘But’ I wondered, ‘if I am neither, then what am I?’ the response was obvious. I was called to be a servant of Christ.

So, I am neither wife, mother, nor career woman. I am a servant of Christ. And no matter which of these things He brings into my life, they are not there to define me, they are there to be a means by which I serve and glorify Him.