The more I travel down my faith walk, the more I've realized something: as Christian women we have a little "problem".
The problem of living as a Christian in the world is that we see things that the world never sees. We see sin, we see pain, we see places where we can grow and change and mature into better people, better Christians, than we are too.
The problem isn't necessarily seeing these.
The problem comes when we start to measure ourselves by what we see as inadequacies in ourselves based on the sins and the problems we see in our own lives. We start comparing our inner selves to the outsides of others and our inner selves to the ideal inner self we'd like to have.
And this is where we begin to beat ourselves up and hold ourselves to a higher standard than we can possibly obtain in our lifetime.
We uphold the woman in Proverbs 31 or Titus 2 or we uphold our Pastor's wife or other "godly" women as something we need to do or be in gory detail rather than trying to be ourselves - the best that God created us to be and uniquely be.
We start to see the sins of greed, lust, anger, chaos, broken relationships, hurt feelings, gluttony, destroyed or misused resources, immortal choices, and I could continue the list. We start to want to fix these things RIGHT NOW, immediately and punish ourselves or beat ourselves up mentally when we can't or don't. Or we want to fix them for others when it isn't our job to do that.
Then we go a step further, like the Pharisees of old, and add things to the list - perceived sins that should be given as offerings of God asks rather than made as a "requirement" for all. Things like vocation, dress, hairstyle, cleanliness or tidiness of the home, offerings of money and time, and on and on we go.
God doesn't require these things for salvation - His death on the cross gave us that - but we give these things as offerings. We look at the outsides of others and see women who are better or modestly dressed, cover or style their hair differently than we do, keep their house differently or "better" than we do, give more money or time than we do, who homeschool their children, volunteer more hours, have more children or whatever and we start to think we need improvement. We start making these things requirements rather than offerings.
What we need to remember is to give everything - absolutely everything - to God.
His way in His time.
And the important thing to remember is that His way for me is very different from His way for someone else. And that is the hardest thing to remember. We as women can be very catty and judgmental. We look at the outside and judge the inside. We need to remember the inside is what God cares about not the outside.
We need to remember to work on what God wants us to work on and to offer what God wants us to offer. The world has it's own opinions and included in the world is our brothers and sisters in Christ, who will give us their opinions and even a herd mentality to what God wants us to do.
This year and in the last few weeks in particular, I've been reminded that I need to only do what God is calling me to do, not what others think I need to do. I need to offer what He has asked me to offer, not what the world or my Christian community expects me to offer. And I only need to work on changing what He asks me to change, not what I think needs changing or what the world or my Christian community tells me I need to change.
Very difficult to do, certainly, but that is when that sense of peace will come and there will be no more "problem" with being a Christian woman.
Soli Deo Gloria.