A letter to my sons on International Women’s Day

Dear sons,

You’re going to hear a lot about women today.

As your mama, I want to offer some perspective.

See, I’m all for equal pay and equal opportunity and equal rights.

But I’m also all for men.

And it’s a right of this woman to be so.

I’ve tried to train you up to know the truth about how God made us, that He made man and woman, and he made us separate for a reason. He didn’t create our differences to diminish one or the other.

He made us different to teach us what we are and what we are not, to show off the reasons why being different is beautiful and important and right.

Do men hurt women?

Absolutely.

But I’ve survived hurts inflicted by women as much as I have by men.

See, humans don’t hurt because of gender.

Humans hurt because we choose to sin.

Which is why I’ve tried to teach you that you, me, dad–all of us–need a Savior.

We need Jesus Christ.

So on International Women’s Day, when much of the world screams about women’s independence and equality at the expense of men, I’m telling you that for me, the greatest aspect of being a woman is the privilege of raising you three to be great men.

A woman doesn’t *need* a man any more than you should feel like you *need* a woman.

What we need is to believe that men and women are uniquely designed in ways which uniquely compliment each other.

What we need are men who are taught to have courage so that the women they love realize they are worth defending.

What we need are men who are strong so that the women they love have a safe place to be weak.

What we need are men who are just so that the women they love don’t have to fear injustice.

What we need are men who stand up so that the women they love can stand next to them.

What we need are men who are free to hold doors and hold hands, who use their strength to be gentle, who use their courage to uphold, who use their leadership to serve, who use their minds to be loyal, and who use their hearts to love like crazy.

What we need are women who raise men to know that these things are not only okay, but that they are indeed right and true.

That’s why on International Women’s Day, I’m celebrating the three best men in the world I know, next to your father.

I thank God every day He picked me to be your mama.

I love you all.

Male and female he created them, and he blessed them. – Genesis 5:2

On how to survive this constant fray.

It was quiet that day.

Mid-day.

Sun high.

Scorching.

Humidity as thick as the shame the woman felt.

That’s why she went to the well, after all.

No one else would be there.

No one cat-calling. No one spitting at her feet. No one turning the other way to avoid her. No one carrying invisible signs that read “slut,” or “worthless,” or worse.

There were no crowds.

To be sure, the man who met her there created and moved crowds on occasion. But when he really wanted to change a life, he picked a time no one would notice, except of course for the one who needed him most.

He looked in her eyes–first time anyone had done that in a long time. It unnerved her, that deep, gentle stare.

She had to turn away.

But he refused to leave. 

I’m talking about Jesus at the well with the Samaritan woman. (Click to read about it in John, chapter 4.)

And I want to be more like that.

No shouting. No name-calling. No talking over people who think differently from me. No turning the other way to the hurt and shame of others.

I fail.

A lot.

Especially these days, when fury seems like the new standard, the resting posture of so many of us.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence I felt led to make 2 Corinthians 10:5 my memory verse for the second half of January. I need to take every thought captive more than ever. And I’m learning I have to get drastic to do so. I took all social media applications off my phone. I made a pact with myself to check it once a day, twice at the most, but only for messages–not to scroll and fall into the fray. I figure anyone who really needs to get ahold of me knows my email or my phone number, and that’s enough. It’ll have to be. This isn’t something everyone should or even wants to do. But for me, well, I’m finding that the more time that passes with this new quiet, this new posture, the more I feel peace re-entering my heart.

The less connected I am to the world, the more re-connected I am to Him.

(This is the great conundrum of course–how to be in the world, but not of the world; how to reach out without falling in. All we can do is try to find a balance the best we can, with the Lord’s help.)

I wonder what we’ll have to say for ourselves in five, ten, twenty years.

I hope we’ll be able to say we were kind in spite of the times; that we were still able to hear the birds singing in the morning; that we still noticed the small green spears of crocuses and daffodils emerging this spring; that we held banners of love high above signs of hate; that our children were able to watch us and learn swords of grace and mercy work best against hate.

I hope.

I sure hope.

I know for sure I can’t do it by reading and listening to the soundbites and the news feeds and the home pages anymore.  And I can’t do it at all without turning my focus, my eyes, and my heart on him, the man at the well.

Like I said, I fail. And I will again, because I’m human, and because it’s hard not to hear constant, deafening outrage.

But there is a voice calling, even and still in this wilderness,

and it’s filled with words like those found in Philippians 4:8-9:

Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart. The things which you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things in daily life, and the God who is the source of peace and well-being will be with you.

The source of peace.

The source of well-being.

Center your mind.

Implant them in your heart.

That’s my prayer for me first, since I fail at this worse than anyone I know.

It’s my prayer for you, too.

And maybe…maybe…something good will bloom out of these dark times after all.

Stop the world! My middle-aged body wants to get off!

Yesterday I stood in between an eight foot tall display of fruit and a giant freezer full of cheese at Costco and lamented the state of my (barely) over 40 body to one of my dear friends.

I’m just not shaped the way I used to be shaped.

I remember the first time I realized my body would never be the way it was in college, when I never worried a bit about how I looked. (Okay, maybe I did worry then, but not like I worry now.) A handful of weeks postpartum and pushing my roly-poly first son through the aisles of my favorite store at the time, The Limited (don’t judge), I grabbed pants or a dress or something in my size.

Or what had once been my size.

The garment fit, but it was definitely not covering me appropriately anymore.

My hips had widened.

And shifted…lower? Higher?

And my BOOBs.

What once had been compared to Kansas had risen.

I just knew I couldn’t shop there anymore.

And here’s the problem I have to this day:

My brain is approximately 25 years behind my body.

(No pun intended.)

I still want to wear clothes from teenager stores–or at least those which cater to young adults. To make things worse, it seems the whole. entire. world. is completely obsessed with diets and flat abs and fast fixes and videos and trainers and cross-fit and pilates and yoga and barre and gluten free and fat free and sugar free and smoothies and high protein and low carb and

AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT!!!

Okay, maybe you have time for that.

But I sure don’t.

I’m a nurse and a writer and a wife and a mom carting three teenagers around so I’m in the car up to four hours (sometimes longer) a day going back and forth to practices and doctors and orthodontists and the grocery–always the grocery because according to said teenagers we have NOTHING to eat EVER–and did I mention the orthodontist and twelve-hour nursing shifts where I walk eight miles between patient rooms and bench press 300-pound sick people and it takes all the coffee in the world just to get me through these days of middle age.

So can the world just stop

and give me a break about flat abs and a perky butt and the fact that I wear my hair in a messy knot 95% of the time because I only have time to wash it a couple of times a week because I think I shower less now than I did when my teenagers were toddlers, and speaking of toddlers and babies, if the gap in my abdominal muscles caused by three pregnancies hasn’t closed and tightened up YET after 13 YEARS, it

AIN’T EVER GONNA

But maybe, just maybe, it’s not the world that needs to stop.

It’s me who needs to stop.

Stop lamenting the soft tummy that held and incubated and loved three of the most incredible humans ever into the world. Stop lamenting that yoga pants don’t cover and hold in every part of me I wish they would. Stop comparing myself to the moms who aren’t in the car four hours a day and who do have the time to run and diet and realize that not all of them work and not all of them are necessarily happier and not all of them try to write books “on the side” (because writing books is SUCH a low pressure, relaxing hobby sort of thing that takes just 30 minutes in the morning in the pristine silence before the rest of the house wakes up–WHATEVs!). Stop fighting the inevitable sag and lag of a (barely) 40 and climbing physique and

OWN IT SISTER.

Because each of us this age have EARNED these years. We’ve earned these stretch marks. We’ve earned the gray hair we slather with dye in a box every three weeks. We’ve earned the right to cover our arms with cardigans and our thighs with longer shorts and the softening and rounding of our edges and besides

THERE’s ENOUGH HARD EDGES IN THE WORLD

without feeling like we need to sharpen what the good Lord has worked so hard to grind away over the decades.

More than that, our my

fixation with the way I’m made is a distraction from fixation on Him.

I stumbled across Psalm 65 today and re-realized the wonder of all God has made, the diversity, the beauty, the mountains, the seas, the mornings, the evenings, the grasslands, the hills, the meadows, the valleys, and the hummingbird that flitted around my garden sucking the marrow out of the life I’ve grown weary with.

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You care for the land and water it;
    you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
    to provide the people with grain,
    for so you have ordained it.[d]
You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
    you soften it with showers and bless its crops. (Psa 65:9-10)

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Thank you, Lord, for caring for the soil of our hearts, for watering our parched souls. Help us as moms and as women in the prime of life to fill ourselves with You and Your Word and your Truth. Drench our furrows and level our ridges. Soften us towards our softened flesh, shower us with grace to tell ourselves–and to tell each other–that we are, each of us, beautiful. Not because of how we’re shaped. But because You made us.

And we praise You for remaking us every day.

Amen.

*****

Is there a friend who needs to hear you say you think she’s beautiful today?

Share this post with her.

And tell her.

Today.

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download

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Further reading: This is a topic that’s been on my heart for a while now. Others, too, it seems, and I don’t think anyone has written more eloquently about this than Ann Voskamp in her recent post,
Dear Women and Daughters: When You’re Tired of Media Voices Telling You What Beauty and Love Is. If my words resonated with you today, please be sure to visit her page, too. You’ll be so glad you did.