Spring is (finally!) in full swing, and with summer right around the corner we have all been audience to endless talk of the “body”. Between Victoria’s Secret’s “ The Perfect ‘Body’” Campaign, the rows and rows of colorful (and, finally, … Continue reading
Today we are going to talk about prayer. More importantly, we are going to talk about the way God responds to us when we pray. Recently I have heard people say, when asking what God has revealed to them when praying abut a certain situation, “ Well, God has pretty much left the decision up to me.” (Insinuating that God supposedly doesn’t have an opinion one way or another). I mean, sure, God does leave pretty much everything up to us- its part of the whole “free will” thing. But God also has his own will. I am going to attempt, as well as I can, to not describe God as if I (or anyone) truly can- but when it comes to whether or not there is a right or wrong decision to be made (This is concerning something important, not what toothpaste to use or which type of burgers to buy at the grocery store –> that answer is always BUBBA BURGERS!)… it seems, biblically, that God has a road on which He would like us to go, and pretending not to see that road when approaching a fork usually means that He is telling us something we don’t want to hear.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. “- Jeremiah 29:11
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”–Prov. 3:5-6
“And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”- Isaiah 58:11
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9
“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” –Psalm 27:14
In the Christian walk, there are certainly times where it seems the Lord is utterly silent and distant and you have no idea where He is or what He is doing (this is part of our purification process and it is good, even though it stinks at the time!) (“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthian 10:13) However, this lack of response or distance from God doesn’t seem to be the constant. (“Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24) It may be so for particular periods of difficulty, but it always seems that God’s will is revealed in the end.
While there are thousands of various ways to pray, prayer, in the Christian sense, is meant to be a conversation. A conversation is where one person speaks and the other responds. (“At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved.” Daniel 9:23) There are two parties to a conversation. God speaks to us in a multitude of ways, indeed, however it pleases Him. He speaks most especially (according to the testimony of various Saints) through hardship (“If there be a true way that leads to the Everlasting Kingdom, it is most certainly that of suffering, patiently endured.” — St. Colette), but also through adoration, other people, music, books, realizations, apparitions, and visions; as well as direct dialogue while journaling or in quiet prayer, or in the silent places in the depths of your heart, where the Holy Spirit reigns and where you feel His presence.
God wants communion with us, He adores us, and He wants us to know him, even as He knows us and was willing to lay down His life for us. Will we make the attempt to truly know Him? “‘Many cry to God, but not with the voice of the soul, but with the voice of the body; only the cry of the heart, of the soul, reaches God.’” –St. Augustine.
It was once shared with me that God is the perfect combination of the masculine and the feminine. We can see His masculinity in the strong sequoia trees that rise solid and strong above the earth, masking many in its shade. We can see His femininity in the beauty of a field of wildflowers, delicate yet glorious and moving. How many times have hikers climbed up to untraveled heights, encountering breathtaking scenes of beautiful landscapes? Who sees that? God delights in decorating the Earth and showering it in his majesty, the way women enjoy making each part of a house a home- even if it seems hardly anyone will see or appreciate it.
While I am not an expert in prayer (or much else for that matter), I could say that I have enough experience in being a woman to be somewhat of an expert in that. The thing about women is, deep down inside, in the deep recesses of our hearts, we want to be known. And even more than that, we want to be delighted in. (Boys, let me know if this resonates with you). God has this quality. He wants us to know and delight in Him.
“Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.” –Psalm 43:4
“May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD.”- Psalm 104:34
“…then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.’ The mouth of the LORD has spoken.”-Isaiah 58:14
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,”- 1 Peter 1:8
In prayer, in communion, adoration, mass, or any other time that we spend in the worship of our Creator, we are learning more about who He is, and we are delighting in God our Savior. Yes, this can include petition, intercession, supplication, etc- but it could also include mutual sharing and loving and delighting in one another. A Priest once advised me, when I was in a particularly anxious time of my life, to simply sit at the fountain of Jesus’ love and mercy; and to allow myself to be filled with His love for me.
That’s all. He told me to just sit and let Jesus love me and to love Him back.
While this is often much easier said than done, it is my prayer that each of us experiences this type of communion with the Holy Trinity. Let us be open to knowing and acknowledging Him with all of our hearts and let us be patient in waiting on the Lord to reveal Himself to us.
Amber Fernandez is a student and friend of mine. I am delighted to feature her guest blog article, which eloquently expresses the exaggerated malice this society has expressed (and obvious pain we have felt) towards the natural differences between men and women.
Call me naive, but I don’t really believe in the political idea of feminism. Yes, I believe in equal rights for women. I believe that women should legally be allowed to vote, make equal salaries as men in the workplace, and be entitled to the same inalienable rights as men. I don’t believe women should have the right to terminate a life they helped conceive, breed hate towards the family structure, or condemn men simply because of their genitals.
I value my femininity. I treasure my softness and grace, and I protect my spirit and virtue. Some see this as oppressive, but maybe I just believe in a deeper meaning of feminism. I find solace in what comes naturally to me. The Lord has blessed me with inherently female talents and tendencies. I excel at cooking and baking; I enjoy shopping and pampering myself. I love wearing dresses, jewelry, and make-up. I’m not saying that women who don’t find joy in these things aren’t feminine, but I recognize and embrace that these attributes make me feminine. I am able to differentiate that there are natural male and female qualities, and I love the idea that God made us separate and unique to each other!
I believe in something called Complementarianism. It is the theological view that God created specific, but complementary roles for men and women. I don’t think there should be a standard patriarchy or matriarchy, simply because neither can flourish without the other. Menand women were made to complement each other: physically, emotionally, and politically.
That being said, while browsing through Facebook one day, I came across a satirical article on “PIV”.
I had no idea what PIV even meant, so I did some further digging. PIV is an abbreviation for “Penis in Vagina” sex. One would think that most could deduce what sex is without an abbreviation, but after reading more, I realized there is a radical feminist movement that classifies PIV (aka sexual intercourse) as rape. Has our society really perverted the union between husband and wife into this? Are we that sensitive and desperate to be politically correct that we need to objectify men as phallic symbols, existing only to oppress women?
Sex, in my opinion, has two main purposes: procreation AND recreation. I understand that sex is designed to create a family, but I also understand that sex was designed to create a physical and emotional bond between man and woman. If you don’t agree with the latter, I suggest you read Song of Solomon and get back to me. Sex (or PIV, as self titled “radfems” like to call it) is not rape, however.
Just to give you some insight into this “revolutionary” movement, here are some main ideas that I believe are perverting the true purpose of sex and love as God intended it:
“trauma bonding”- the theory that sex (PIV rape) is a traumatic experience that degrades women into believe their captors hold life or death powers over them. Women must feel that their captors have shown them some sort of kindness, and see their perspective as the only perspective. They must be isolated and alone. (By the way, captor is nut a synonym for kidnapper, etc. Radfems, according to their PIV idea, believe ALL men are captors, and romantic relationships are a facade)
Female child grooming- the idea that young girls are bombarded with ideas of Prince Charming, being a “daddy’s girl”, etc, so they become brainwashed into believe men are dominant and more powerful. This brainwashing idea leads to “forced child bearing” and “rape”, even if the acts are consensual.
Radfems who hold these beliefs also consider sex as PIV rape because it is harmful to women. Why is it harmful? Because sex can result in pregnancy. Since when is the capability to produce life considered harmful? If more women (and men) understood what sex is intended for, I think that concepts like this wouldn’t exist.
By accepting and embracing our differences, we can better understand the opposite sex. Ladies, embrace your femininity! Men, be masculine and recognize that it is your responsibility to defend our femininity. There is nothing shameful in this! Defy the ever-changing norms and trends of society, and be radical by living as God intended us to. Trust that God is the constant in our lives, and He will overcome the distorted world we are living in.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
About two years ago, Julia Bluhm gave a magazine an idea that could have propelled it from mediocre (at best) to groundbreaking. I am bringing it up now because I recently wrote a rant on magazines, and I don’t like complaining without offering a solution. Granted, the solution for the over-sexualization and dumbing down of women’s magazines should be obvious (stop reiterating the same (weird) sex advice and start putting current events in your magazines). But nevertheless, this is a push in the right direction.
On May 3rd 2012, Jim Dwyer for the New York Times wrote a story on a red-headed, blue eyed cherub who led an online petition asking seventeen magazine to publish one untouched photo-spread per magazine in order to show what “real girls” look like, in the hopes of removing the impossible standards that have girls nation wide purging and starving. This impressive feat began in ballet class, where she claims her fellow dancers, like most adolescent women, “declared that they were having a fat day. Or that their skin was pimply or blemished. Or that they looked disgusting.” Which she, of course, thought was ludicrous.
To say the least, publishing unretouched photos would definitely cause a dent in the whirlwind of self- loath that has ravaged the nation since Twiggy first sat in front of a camera. In fact, many others agreed and she got 46,000 people to sign her petition. In addition, Bluhm actually managed to receive an invitation from Seventeen’s editor in chief Ann Shoket to discuss the matter. Did I mention? Julia Bluhm was fourteen at the time. Oh, the courage that comes from the mouth of babes.
Unfortunately, nothing really happened. Shoket and Bluhm exchanged emails, and although it WOULD be really cool if Seventeen led the way down the road of self- worth and body appreciation by not choosing emaciated waifs to grace their glossy pages, lets face it, its a stretch.
However, I do know this. At some point, some day, women are going to start getting fed up with the standards (if we are not already). The National Women’s Health Information Center states that fashion models weigh 23% less than the average female- and that is supposed to be seen as normal (Adolescent Girls and Body Image, NASW, 2001). Women nationwide are going to get fed up with feeling abnormal. And then, some mainstream magazine (Seventeen, possibly) will catch up with this trend and begin to actually show real girls in their magazines. They will defame the other magazines, saying they are contributing to the rise in eating disorders (which this magazine has already done, but never mind that). And do you know what will happen with this intelligent magazine? Their sales will skyrocket. Having already made a name for themselves in the conventional way, they will now use their name to promote something that girls and their mom’s have been praying for. Reality. Quite frankly, it was idiotic of Seventeen to refuse this offer. Yes, Bluhm singled them out of dozens of other magazines that do the same thing. But this was not a stroke of bad luck- this was an opportunity. Dove has been immensely successful with their campaigns for Real Beauty; it would have been nothing less for this magazine.
But, alas, they decided to maintain the status quo and continue along their fake, plastic and retouched way- to the detriment of their readership (and they call themselves feminists….). Perhaps one day (hopefully soon) another magazine will get the hint and start the revolution. Until then, we will wait.
*Disclaimer: This is not meant to be a bash on men, or a desire to maintain women in traditional roles. This blog is simply a celebration of unique qualities most females have that make us uniquely beautiful, captivating, and successful. Please add to the list in the comments section!
- A Relationship with Christ: It goes without saying, without Christ’s light we are all just HAGs! (Check out the amazing Help A Girlfriend ministry here!) A woman who loves God has the Holy Spirit inside of them have the gifts that compose the ultimate symphony of beauty: wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord.
- A Positive Outlook on Life: I once heard Kimberley Hahn say that the reason why men go to war and women stay home is because women can hold onto any shred of hope like nobody’s business. There’s a reason why they had to make a whole movie on how women need to learn to move on…. BUT though the world may laugh at us, I think this is a beautiful attribute and we should not give this up! Don’t become cynical just because it’s cool, cynicism does not bring the light of Christ to others. Remember, keeping your heart open requires more strength than it takes to close it.
- The Desire to Help and Love Others: Once, after I went through a bad breakup, my wonderful dear friend who was staying with my family at the time came into my room, watched me break down and cry, and held me until I fell asleep. The next day I found flowers and chocolate in the kitchen. I am so glad that I had her there. It is no secret that women are the nurturing gender. We take care of those around us, not only physically but emotionally as well. This is not to say that men can’t be nurturing and women can’t be protectors- it is just something that comes most naturally to most of us. This is so beautiful!
- Aware: One of the amazing things about being a woman is our ability to multitask. We are able to do more things at once, correctly, and this is a beautiful asset to have. This means we are aware of our surroundings, and we are able to effectively solve multiple problems at once-, which is why we are so intuitive. We can read many signals at the same time. For example, we walk into our apartment. We greet our roommate sitting on the couch, watching tv. We see in their posture that they are relaxed, probably tired after a long day. However, we also immediately read cues in their voice (perhaps they are talking softer than usual), eyes (downcast), and face (tense) showing that something may be wrong. As we start casual conversation and put our things way we quickly sort through what has been going on in their lives lately, “I wonder if she had another one of those conversations with her mother, is everything okay between her and her boyfriend? I know she went to the gym today, did she maybe hurt herself? Suddenly, we remember that she had an evaluation at work- one that she knew would be tough. In about ten seconds or less, we can pickup emotional imbalance and usually pinpoint the problem without even asking. It’s pretty awesome.
- Soft on the outside, strong on the inside: I once heard it said that men are strong on the outside and soft on the inside, while women are soft on the outside and strong on the inside. Once you think about what men historically have been called to bear (frontlines in war efforts, serving as the protector of the family, etc) contrasted to what women historically have been called to bear (childbirth and child rearing, caretaking roles, etc), I find that this makes perfect sense. Soft on the outside does not mean that women are out of shape or weak (think Proverbs 31), but simply that strength does not come from big muscles or a temper. (Not that all men have these… you get my drift). Strength is found in femininity, and it is beautiful!