Monday, January 09, 2006
Several months ago I met someone who has inspired me, perhaps more than anyone else, to be the kind of woman that God wants me to be. Spending time with her has made me examine who I am in the light of who I want to be. I fall terribly short, but I am encouraged to grow in grace and in the kind of beauty that the women of old clothed themselves with. (That is, a gentle and quiet spirit.) I want to put on love and cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in my life. I want to be a better wife, treating my husband with honor and respect, greeting him with joy and laughter. I want to be a better Mama; patient, wise, and kind. Being with her makes me want to be more feminine, in my manner of speech, my actions, and the way I dress.
The one who has brought such lofty aspirations to the forefront of my mind doesn't inspire me by her example, but by her potential. She is my own little daughter, Alethea Poppy Joy, only nine months along in her life. She is full of curiosity, energy, and smiles. When I look at her and think about the kind of woman I want to raise her to be, I realize that I need to embody the qualities I hope to teach her. Elizabeth Prentice said "My children, my darling precious children. What I want them to become, I must become myself." While I know this to be true with my son as well, I feel it in a different way with Alethea. She will learn more from my example than from my words.
Everywhere I look I see women. The ones that get the attention tend to be the high powered, go-get-'em, independent, attractive ones. They are not admired for their character; in many of them I think you'd be hard pressed to find anything admirable there. The world would shape my daughter, starting at a very young age, into the very opposite thing than what I desire for her. Little girls soon become enamored of the "Disney Princess" and are force-fed the dream of being pretty, getting their way, getting their Prince, and living happily ever after. They sport it on shirts that say things like "Spoiled Rotten" and "It's all about me" and a few years down the road the slogans change to things like "Go ahead, ask me out" and "Your boyfriend wants me." Since when is self-absorption a trait that needs to be encouraged?
If I'm going to counter the messages that the world is sending my daughter, I need to be aware of what they are and be very intentional about setting in front of her a higher goal. I need to show her what it means to be a woman of character, a woman of God. As followers of Christ we are citizens of a different Kingdom, and we are called out from this world. Our goals, our actions, our dress, should be dictated by our love for Christ.
I want to raise a daughter who will become a strong woman; strong enough to withstand the pressure of society, confident in her identity as a daughter of the King. I hope that she will have a gentle and quiet manner, that she will be full of joy and love, and that she will extend her hand to the poor and needy. Words like prudence, chastity, and meekness are mocked as old-fashioned and unliberated, but let them be said of her. I pray that she will seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and that her standard will be none other than Christ Himself. May she be clothed in humility and grace, her life spent not on vain temporal pursuits, but in service of God and others. May her beauty radiate from the life of Christ within her.
These are lofty goals. I write them in prayer; both for Alethea and for myself. I am not the woman I have described above, not the woman I hope that she will be someday. But what I want her to become I must become myself. As the Apostle Paul wrote "Not that I have already attained, or that I am already perfected, but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold of me." This is the hope of my life, that I may become the woman God has made me to be, the wife, the mother, the friend. That I may be transformed into the image of Christ, and as I love those around me, as He loves through me, that they may be transformed as well. Alethea is my inspiration, but Jesus is my only hope.