Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pinterest, Orgasmic Birth, and the Priceless Woman

What do Pinterest, Orgasmic Birth, and Proverbs 31 have to do with one another? Possibly nothing to anyone but me! The length of this post is a record for this blog, so strap yourselves in...

Upon announcement that I would be studying complete womanhood, a friend asked to read my thesis when I am done. Will I ever be done? Probably not... but if I were going to write a thesis at some point it would probably have a lot to do with the woman outlined in Proverbs 31 in the Bible. I like to call her the Priceless Woman, a personal hero of mine.
 Complaints about her abound because she can seem too perfect. Some have suggested she’s a male fantasy, but I don’t believe it. As an entrepreneur, civil servant, and super-wife/mother she strikes me as more of a female fantasy, or better yet, a composite of the best womanhood has to offer. She’s self reliant yet soft, she accomplishes ambitious things but knows how to enjoy herself, and everybody who knows her thinks she’s the world’s greatest. Tell me that’s not what you are dreaming of!
I think it was Stasi Elderedge who said the Priceless Woman seemed awfully busy and asked when she had time for sex? Good question: One I am not qualified to answer, since I am hardly her, but I wonder if that’s the right question.

I don’t think we are really asking about her love life, but about her fulfillment. 

When and how does a godly woman take care of her heart longings when every moment seems to be spoken for in the service of others? We can talk all we want about the joy of giving, but certain kinds of compulsory giving dry me up and make me exhausted and irritable. It is axiomatic that we all need to spend time in Christ’s presence through the word and meditation to be fulfilled. I am not negating that. But how else does she maintain that real smile on her face? 

Proverbs 31 verses 21-22 say “She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet. She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple.” 

Her family was not only provided for physically, but clothed in scarlet, which was a luxury. But the very biggest luxury was her own purple linen garments. Named Lydia, and having been a textile production management major, I am so tired of hearing how expensive Murex dye was in the ancient world, but here I am on that old saw: It was super-pricey, the domain of royalty and rulers. She treated herself like a queen. She knew that to care for others she had to take very good care of herself. This is not about basic physical need. I am sure she could get by in some drab t-shirts and holey underwear like the rest of us. 

(Go ahead, it’s time to make rags out of some of those suckers!) 

This is not even about clothes. This is about a woman being herself, appreciating herself, and setting a wonderful tone for her household and community because she sets a spacious tone for herself. 

Which brings me to Orgasmic Birth, the sort of movie title I steer well clear of... but hang with me! It’s about the similarities between the hormones a woman experiences in labor and what we experience within– ahem– the intimacy of marriage. It’s 11 couples, and such beautiful births! I was in awe of woman after woman relaxed in her focus throughout her rewarding work. It occurred to me that I am never as relaxed daily as these women were free to be during some of the most intense physicality of their lives! I showed the film to Daniel, and he agreed with a grimace “No, you are never, never that relaxed. Ever.” Because I am not relaxed, a few other people in my household aren’t as relaxed as they could be either. I’d love to change that. I think one of the huge reasons these women were able to focus on their bodies and babies was they were so comfortable with their surroundings. 

Each woman had a very unique individual space that reflected her desires, needs, and personality. That played out in different ways: One woman spent her entire labor and delivery outside, another had drums and willowy music, yet another focused on having the important women in her life surrounding her. Because each woman had her needs taken care of– not only health needs, but emotional needs and her need for beauty, she was able to exist fully in the moment she needed to be in. I have a lot to learn from that.

I think the Priceless Woman gave herself a space that she reveled in, enjoyed, was thankful for, and appreciative of, which set a great mood for the people around her. If you are still wondering along with Stasi, I am guessing she was free to enjoy herself with her husband because she enjoyed herself and him in general, and when you aren’t preoccupied there’s always time.

There’s a difference between self-obsession and allowing your personal value to be something you dwell in (not on) and offer to others. Between looking out for number one, and living your agreement with God that you are worthwhile, and fearfully and wonderfully made. It cost the Priceless Woman something precious, probably money she could give to the poor, or buy something her kids were dying for. It probably cost her time to find or make, or direct making the outfit that reflected her view of herself in wardrobe. It was time and upkeep she could have put into her civic duties and who knows what else, but she staked that claim for herself (and her family), and the world was better for it.

Which brings me, now, to Pinterest, which I’d resisted getting involved with. Everyone says what a time-sucker it is! Then a friend who makes amazing things you should buy lots of asked me personally, and I caved. Once again, I am glad I did. Somehow for me Pinterest is a space without anyone else’s expectations in it. The things I pin onto my little virtual inspiration boards are somewhat different from what I wear, make, and live in. Paired with the stunning realizations from Orgasmic Birth, it was a revelation I kind of knew was coming. I tend to be a chameleon adjusting myself constantly to what I interpret the expectations of others to be. Sometimes I do it without thinking, sometimes I adjust myself to see if I can do it. I can. But can I be me?

To fully become the woman I am meant to be I need to grant myself the necessary luxury of being myself, otherwise everything I have to offer others will also be borrowed from others. I will live in personal poverty, emotionally hand-to-mouth... for longer than I already have.

 It need not break the bank, but it is going to be costly. I wonder what it will cost. Time spent away from “urgent” things? Energy I “should” be using to accomplish... stuff? Cash that “should” go to more selfless causes? Or most daunting of all, personal vulnerability when what I offer is fully my own and naked to the evaluation of others?

There’s only one way to find out.

I see it as a two-part process starting in the mind based on Romans 12:2 (NAS)
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

First is to not be conformed. My action step here is to practice becoming as picky and discerning about craft, home, and fashion ideas as I am about philosophy. I start imitating magazine and cute crafty blogger images of life that certainly aren’t me, because those are the images available in my head. Each imitation puts me a little further from the high idea God had when He made me. None of them are bad in and of themselves, but I need to be pickier about what I appropriate. Who knew that living an intentionally godly life would cause me to limit my exposure to innocuous craft blogs?   

Second, I need to be transformed by first seeking out images and ideas that are authentic to me. What starts in my head is what I live out, and the environment I create for others. The more natural that environment is for me, since I set the tone in the house, the better off my family will be. I am experimenting with some art therapy ideas, and Pinterest on that account.


Rosie said...

Hi Lydia! I happened upon your blog when my facebook friend, Orgasmic Birth, linked a post to you, since you reference that wonderful movie in this blog. I'm so glad they did! I love your writing...maybe because we think so much alike hahaha, somewhat deep and scattered! I love that you have intertwined the real world of Orgasmic Birth with the Holy Scriptures.

For some reason some folks cannot remember that God created our bodies, and all the pleasure that we are capable of (even ecstatic birth). Our sexuality is a gift I've often thanked God for! However, I have struggled with Proverbs 31 and what being a virtuous woman means. Your musings ring so TRUE and gave me a sense of calm, of peace. And as we know "the truth shall set you free!" I have also felt that mirroring others behavior and becoming who they need at the moment has served me well...or has it? Has it served God's purpose? Have I?

I will chew on this (meditate) for the next while and with God's help start anew to dream MY dream. And then (with heart and courage) take action steps towards creating (we are co-creators with Him) that dream. Thanks Lydia!

lydia said...

Thanks Rosie! Glad we can think together on these things. I also enjoyed reading some of your posts as well!

kirsten schueler said...

ok, i'm a blog stalker...i've been reading through your blog tonight and i didn't realize you linked to me :) thanks!

those last two paragraphs you wrote gave words to what i couldn't. i stopped reading blogs (reason why i am just now reading through yours..) because i was really hurting myself in the comparison game. you are right, "Who knew that living an intentionally godly life would cause me to limit my exposure to innocuous craft blogs?" I did it to help my walk with the Lord, I was putting myself down over what I wasn't doing instead of being encouraged and inspired. I was forgetting that God rejoices over me and doesn't hold up this measuring stick I had made for myself.

I love the way you write. As I just wrote about I must stop comparing myself and seeing my faults. That said, I wish I could write as eloquently as you do. Thank you for putting words to something I couldn't!


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